By Aaron Weaver and Emily Holladay
ATLANTA — The 2014 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly wrapped up Friday night with a worship service and time around the table in observance of the Lord’s Supper.
Preparing the Assembly for communion, Chuck Poole, pastor of Northminster Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., preached that diversity at the communion table is a gift.
“Every now and then I hear some of the voices of popular culture caring about and longing for diversity with what they call political correctness,” Poole said. “But, if that is true, then this is one of those many occasions when what popular culture calls glibly and dismisses as political correctness, the church of Jesus calls gladly and recognizes as ‘gospel embrace.’”
“Look around this big room at this great gathering of the children of God,” Poole said. “The wide reaching diversity of faces and voices in this room tonight will make these tables of communion a rehearsal dinner for that far off someday when every knee will bow and every tongue will sing; one small taste of that great feast God is planning and preparing for all peoples.”
Worship featured music from Cynthia Clawson, a Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, and the CBF Georgia/Atlanta choir — a choir representing Fellowship churches from across the Atlanta metro area.
Julie Whidden Long, minister of children and families at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Ga., continued the General Assembly worship emphasis on celebrating churches and shared why she loves her church.
“I love my church…because we are a church that makes room,” Whidden Long said. “We make room for the perspectives and passions of people who lean to the left or the right; who have been educated in the ivory-est of towers and who have learned their lessons the hard way. Differing voices are not just tolerated; they are valued.”
Stephen Cook, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., led the call to give, emphasizing that the Assembly can show its love for the church through its financial gifts to CBF’s rural poverty initiative, Together for Hope, as part of the three-day Assembly challenge to raise $50,000 in support of the CBF Global Missions enterprise. Gifts can be made at http://www.thefellowship.info/GAgift.
“I am here to invite you to dare and put your dollars into the service of hope; to underwrite the efforts of those who dare to dream of a better world; a world where change is happening and cycles of economic injustice are being broken,” Cook said. “The gifts we give tonight are a direct line of hope; hope in places where, were it not for those who serve through CBF’s Together for Hope initiative, hope might otherwise be hard to recognize.”
Offerings were also taken up at the Wednesday’s commissioning service for the Fellowship’s partner-funded field personnel and during the Thursday evening worship service for the CBF Offering for Global Missions.
The Assembly concluded with more than 1,700 Cooperative Baptists observing communion. CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter reminded the Assembly that God calls them to be united together as one church.
“We share this cup with all of those who have taken their place at the table,” Paynter said. “God calls us to be the church, together with all God’s children who drink Christ’s grace.”
The registered attendance for the 2014 CBF General Assembly was 1,835.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.