GREENSBORO, N.C. – In the final session of the 2013 General Assembly, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter delivered an address focusing on CBF’s shared values and mission. “Hold these things in common, and you can run the race,” Paynter said.
As she recognized the work of Fellowship partners, ministers and volunteers in the crowd, Paynter told the audience of Cooperative Baptists that “we can be alone or we can be a Fellowship” of churches and ministries, united in common identity, compassionate ministry and mission work.
“This is not parachute missions. This is self-sacrificing, biblical, honest, holistic service that provides a platform for meaningful church engagement and sustained national ministries. This is co-missioning. It is not cheap, nor is it the kind of venture that can be run for the change leftover in your car cupholder. This type of Christian engagement is worth the lives of our partners and field personnel, and it is worth our serious investment,” Paynter said.
Paynter pointed to CBF’s rural poverty initiative, Together for Hope, as an example of the impact of the Fellowship united in mission. “During 2012, in only five Together for Hope regions –Appalachia, Mississippi River Delta, Rio Grande Valley, Alabama, South Dakota – 44 churches engaged with Together for Hope poverty and transformation ministries. This resulted in 24,029 hours of volunteer service, which equals $532,723.00 in volunteer time,” Paynter said.
Paynter announced she will soon finalize a partnership with the Baptist World Alliance to be a Baptist voice at the United Nations. She also announced a new emphasis on endowed scholarships for seminary students at CBF’s 15 partner seminaries and encouraged every healthy CBF church to consider starting a new church in the next five years.
A. Roy Medley brought greetings from American Baptist Churches USA, noting the organization’s common values and telling Paynter, “as part of a broad Baptist family, we are praying for CBF’s fellowship and praying for you.”
During the service, an offering was received, raising $16,243 to support the work of CBF field personnel around the world. The worship closed with a communion service, led by Paynter and her husband, Roger Paynter, pastor of First Baptist Church, Austin, Texas.
The registered attendance for the 2013 General Assembly was 2,327.
Attendees unanimously approve CBF’s ‘path toward the future’
with votes on new organizational structure and leadership
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Cooperative Baptists have laid what Moderator Keith Herron called the “path toward the future” with three unanimous votes in the Friday morning business session at the 2013 CBF General Assembly.
Attendees passed a new constitution and bylaws that replace the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s representative Coordinating Council with four smaller bodies. Attendees also approved the 2013-2014 Ministries and Missions Budget of $12.4 million and the Nominating Committee report that includes new CBF officers and provides leadership to some of the newly created organizational structure.
Under the new structure, a Governing Board will provide oversight for CBF with the help of three other bodies – the Nominating Committee and the Ministries and Missions councils.
The two new officers for 2013-14 are Kasey Jones, senior pastor of National Memorial Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., as moderator-elect, and Jason Coker, pastor of Wilton Baptist Church in Wilton, Conn., as recorder. Approved were 13 members of the Governing Board, with Bill McConnell leading the group as moderator; six members of the Ministries Council with Michael Cheuk, senior minister at University Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Va., as chair; and five members of the Missions Council with Mimi Walker, pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., as chair.
McConnell stressed that “this is a new day” for CBF with the new organizational structure and the new leadership of CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter. He promised close collaboration between CBF members and the Governing Board.
During the session, Paynter presented two Vestal Scholarships for theological education, named after the former CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal, to Abigail Pratt, a student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and Robert Matteson, a student at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
Coordinating Council commemorates 22 years,
honors Bass as Alumni of the Year
GREENSBORO, N.C. – More than 150 Coordinating Council alumni met for dinner and to commemorate 22 years of service to the Fellowship. Changes to CBF’s organizational structure, approved earlier in the day by the General Assembly, officially dissolved the Council and created a new, smaller Governing Board.
“The Coordinating Council has been all things to all people – functioning as needed as the CBF staff, advisors, creators, expanders, communicators and ambassadors. The legacy of servant leadership, vision and responsiveness are enduring gifts that are delivered to the future,” said CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter, who is also an alumnus of the Council.
Jack Glasgow, senior pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon, N.C., and former CBF moderator, called the Council members his “heroines and heroes.”
“For 22 years, CBF was led by the Coordinating Council, but it’s a new day. We have been able to celebrate a new executive coordinator, one who will stand in a line of excellence,” Glasgow said.
“CBF has not been a consolation. It has been a gift of a make-everything-new God,” he said.
Christy McMillin-Goodwin, associate minister of education and missions at Oakland Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C., presented the CBF Coordinating Council Distinguished Alumni Award to Hal Bass, a professor of political science at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. During his time on the Coordinating Council, Bass led CBF to adopt the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and created the 2012 Task Force.
Bass was presented a framed print of Skopje, Macedonia. The photograph came from Shelia Earl, who recently retired as one of CBF’s field personnel from that country.
Baptist Joint Committee honors Paynter
with J.M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award
GREENSBORO, N.C. – More than 560 people gathered in a packed ballroom for the 23rd annual meeting and luncheon of the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
During his opening remarks, BJC Board Chair Mitch Randall, pastor of NorthHaven Church in Norman, Okla., invoked the legacy of 17th century Baptist leader Roger Williams and applauded the BJC for its role safeguarding religious freedom and the separation of church and state.
“It is because of Brent Walker, Holly Hollman and our staff, and the great support they receive from the Religious Liberty Council, as well as support they receive from you, that religious liberty will live on today, tomorrow and hopefully for years to come,” Randall said.
BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman reminded the crowd in her update that, in March, President Obama selected Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and former BJC General Counsel, to serve as director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“The President had the wise judgment to select former BJC General Counsel Melissa Rogers….To have a Cooperative Baptist in such a significant position is truly a gift to our country,” Hollman said.
The capacity crowd also heard from CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter, who was honored with the J.M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award, an award named after the late religious liberty pioneer and first executive director of the BJC.
In her address, Paynter urged BJC supporters to be advocates on behalf of religious liberty.
“Practice your liberty of conscience, and God will use the conversation. In an increasingly pluralistic culture, among the polarized ideological discourse from both the right and the left, with well-funded and vocal advocates, the public square needs to hear the deliberative thoughts of sincerely religious and faithful people saying, modeling, simple but profound statements of conscience,” Paynter said.
“This is our chapter. You are the voice; it is your voice that needs to speak….We treat our most sacred freedoms like they are distant teacups, not really ours except in some decorative sense. We will exercise our bodies to hip-hop abs and P90X. It’s time to put some energy into exercising our freedom of conscience for religious liberty and to lift our voices to defend the religious rights of others here and around the world. Justice requires action. Jesus said so.”
CBF Church Benefits Board hosts lunch program on work and retirement,
and breakout session on new healthcare law
GREENSBORO – Too often, Christians do not work the way God intended them to work, substituting strategic plans and a matrix for love and relationships, said Guy Sayles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Asheville N.C., to more than 120 people Friday at the annual Church Benefits Board luncheon.
Sayles spoke about the biblical interpretation of work and retirement.
“Since work is a partnership with God, it isn’t limited to our careers and our jobs,” Sayles said. “Our life’s work is greater and more enduring than the positions we hold and the titles we have. The answer is broader than a job. A job is what you get paid to do. A vocation is what you are made to do.”
Sayles likened retirement to the Jewish Jubilee, outlined in the Bible, where at the end of 50 years of work, the people of Israel would rest from their exhausting labors. It’s the Sabbath of Sabbaths.
“God created mankind on the sixth day. So humanity’s first full day on earth was the Sabbath,” Sayles said. “So it all began on the Sabbath and hopefully it ends on the Sabbath.”
Later, at the CBB breakout session about the new healthcare law that goes into effect later this year and into 2014, Gary Skeen, CBB president, offered his commitment to helping churches stay in compliance with federal regulations.
“Churches need to be aware of the new healthcare law and what requirements may be placed on them to be in compliance,” Skeen said. “From simple things like employee notices that, if they choose, they can be a part of the new federal exchanges to communiques that churches need to make to the exchanges about employee compensation.”
Skeen explained that under the new healthcare law, the “individual mandate” requires single persons with incomes above $9,350 or married couples at more than $18,700 to enroll in some healthcare coverage or face a penalty beginning in 2014.
That year, the penalty will be $95, or one percent of annual income, whichever is greater. In 2015, the penalty grows to $395 or 2 percent, and in 2016, it grows to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, depending on which is greater. For families, the penalty is capped at 300 percent of individual rate.
The penalty does not apply to individuals who:
- have religious objections to purchasing health insurance
- participate in a healthcare sharing ministry
- are incarcerated
- not legally present in the United States
- are members of a Native American tribe, or
- those who receive a “hardship” exemption.
Skeen said, “if your church is under 50 full time employees, it’s unlikely that any employer penalties will apply. But you can’t ignore the reporting of employee compensation or other mandates which are still being negotiated and firmed up.”
Skeen said the Church Benefits Board will keep its members abreast of all federal mandates as they become available.
The following writers contributed to these stories: Emily Holladay, Jeff Huett, Jeff Langford, Bob Perkins and Aaron Weaver.