By Emily Holladay and Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Governing Board convened last week in Decatur to plan strategy and to receive updates from staff and CBF Governance entities, including the Ministries Council, Missions Council and Nominating Committee, each of which met over the past several weeks.
CBF Moderator Kasey Jones, senior pastor of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., opened the two-day meeting by stating her vision and hope for her year of leadership.
“One of the things that people said very clearly [during my time on the 2012 Task Force] is that we needed to claim who we are as CBF, and I am excited to be here while we are working on our identity,” Jones said. “I am excited to be here at this time of transformation and change, and I’m glad to be a part of this process with you all.”
Paynter focused on how the work of each department was helping to clarify CBF’s identity.
“The stories of the Fellowship over the years show CBF as Christ-like, excellent, authentic, innovative, global and diverse,” Paynter said. “As we approach our 25th Anniversary in 2016, we want to celebrate this legacy at General Assembly, in churches and at state and regional events, with our theological schools and partners.”
Stephen Reeves, CBF associate coordinator for partnerships and advocacy, shared the vision for CBF partnerships moving forward.
“We are focused on three broad goals in partnerships — assessment of current partnerships, developing models for partnership and processes for developing new partnerships,” Reeves said. “We hope to find ways to describe partnerships that are not competitive, but highlight the mutual benefit.”
In the Friday morning session, the Governing Board approved two motions from the Networks Committee to support a covenant agreement and a partnership agreement with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia. These agreements will pave the way for CBF Global and CBFVA to work in even closer collaboration and integration to maximize financial and personnel resources.
“This partnership is a reflection of my commitment to the states and regions for their importance and the importance of our shared work,” Paynter said. “It furthers my commitment and the 2012 Task Force’s recommendation to create a seamless organization where work is done on both ends.”
The Board discussed several strategies for increased funding and investment in the Fellowship and greater engagement with individuals and congregations. Paynter stressed her desire to create more opportunities to embrace lay people in Fellowship life.
“I would like to ask you all as a Governing Board to think about creating events and opportunities for groups of laity to gather,” Paynter said. “Our phenomenal lay people in our congregations are the presence of Christ. I want to be able to embrace, thank and inspire the wonderful people in the pew. That’s my aspirational goal for us.”
CBF Missions Council
During the previous week, the CBF Missions Council, an elected advisory body to the Governing Board, met September 3-4 in Decatur, Ga., to discuss its future work. The meeting was the council’s first as a fully-populated body. Now in its second year, the Missions Council is tasked with providing vision and strategy for CBF Global Missions, seeking to bring together and collaborate with missions leaders and stakeholders to support and guide CBF’s mission enterprise.
Each council member serves on a subgroup focused on a strategic area of the group’s work. These focus areas include: vision and strategy — providing a forum for development of vision and direction for CBF Global Missions; education — resourcing the CBF community by being curators of best mission engagement practices; sustainability — encouraging effective partnerships with congregations to develop new global field personnel and to sustain them; and administration — building infrastructure for the council’s work and recommending development priorities to the Governing Board.
CBF Global Missions Coordinator Steven Porter emphasized the importance of the council and its critical work.
“Following a year of preparation, the Missions Council hit its stride last week, beginning the hard work of re-imagining the missionary enterprise of Cooperative Baptists in a world and in an organization that has changed substantially since we first commissioned missionaries in 1992,” he said.
“As a movement and as a Global Missions staff, this is the very sort of independent, critical and collaborative voice we need to ensure that our mission structures align the work of our field personnel, congregations and partners to advance the good news of God’s reign in the world,” Porter said. “It’s a new day. Thanks be to God.”
Michael Oliver, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Madison, Ala., and chair of the Missions Council, shared his sense of encouragement and hope for the future of CBF Global Missions and excitement for the council’s work.
“We have an outstanding group of council members who are passionate and thoughtful about missions,” Oliver said. “As a council, we engaged in community building, discussed the scope of our work, prayed for God’s leadership, heard from CBF staff and began the dreaming process of what might be for Global Missions. I personally felt a renewed sense of encouragement and hope for our missions future. Missions is the heart of who we are as a fellowship.”
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.