Bill McConnell is a layperson from Knoxville, Tenn., where he is a partner in Rogers & Morgan, a manufacturer’s agency that specializes in industrial environmental equipment. On Friday, June 28, McConnell was elected to serve as moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for 2013-2014. His wife of 47 years, Carolyn, is a retired teacher. They have two sons—Scott, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., with his wife and two daughters; and Christian, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife.
As CBF moves forward with a new constitution and organizational structure and the Governing Board meets for the first time this week, McConnell reflects on his journey and goals as moderator.
Journey as a Baptist
I was raised in a missionary Baptist church in Kingsport, Tenn., and have been involved in Baptist life ever since. After graduating from Carson-Newman University and serving for four years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, I moved to Winston-Salem, N.C. to pursue graduate studies in biology at Wake Forest University, and was an active member at Ardmore Baptist Church. The next stop on my journey was Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., before finally setting at Central Baptist Church of Bearden in Knoxville, Tenn. My family and I have always gravitated to a CBF-type church, even before there was a CBF!
Journey to Moderator
Several years ago, I was asked to serve on the Tennessee CBF Coordinating Council. My time on that council led to an invite to serve on the national CBF Coordinating Council, where I served as on the personnel committee and chaired the finance committee.
At the 2013 CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., we voted to replace the 60-member Coordinating Council with a new and more flexible organizational structure comprised of four smaller bodies. This new structure gives us the chance to be much more responsive to the needs of the Fellowship. My first goal is to solidify this new organizational structure.
The newly formed Governing Board is tasked with setting the direction and policies of CBF, alongside Suzii Paynter and her staff, and the new Missions and Ministries councils. We are to dream and pray and set the course for the future of the Fellowship. My second goal is to start dreaming and praying with the extremely talented people in these groups.
We are a fellowship of cooperating Baptists. We work well together to serve those who are hungry and homeless. We bring Christ to those on the margins of many different societies. There is always room for increased cooperation, greater collaboration between all of our CBF partners as well as state and regional organizations. I hope to effectively lead the Governing Board to be part of that conversation.
CBF is on what my predecessor Keith Herron recently called the “path toward the future.” I believe that the Fellowship will journey to be a distinctly Baptist place to live out the teachings of Christ with fellow Christians and will display incredible diversity in gender, race and ethnicity, age and geography. It is my prayer that the Fellowship will be a place of welcome where all can use their talents and passions to be the presence of Christ.