Hopefully, we all have had places where we have been given space to grow, find security and feel known. Hopefully, we can think of people and faces who have encouraged us to be ourselves more fully and who have pushed us to live into our God-given calling more deeply. Hopefully, we have had a space where we felt the overwhelming sense of welcome. For me, this has been the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The Fellowship, for me, is home.
CBF nurtured me as a child, bringing me up in the way of Jesus. Many of my earliest memories are of my home church, Bayshore Baptist in Tampa, as well as of the larger CBF community. This is where I first learned of God and God’s great love for all of creation. This is home.
CBF supported and affirmed me as I began to stand on my own two feet. When, as a sophomore in high school, I felt a call to vocational ministry, CBF and my faith community encouraged me to lean in, and affirmed this calling in my life. This is who believed in me. This is home.
CBF challenged me to strive. Through CBF, I was introduced to Passport Camps. Passport taught me as a camper to read scripture closely, and pushed me to look for different ways to love and serve those around me. Later, while working on staff for Passport, they challenged my understanding of missions, helped me to think outside the box and encouraged me to further explore areas of ministry that were once scary or overwhelming to me. This is where I was pushed beyond my comfort zone. This is home.
CBF is who I come home to. Now, living in California and attending Fuller Theological Seminary, I find that fewer people are familiar with the CBF family. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has a west coast presence, but it is not yet what it is in Florida and other areas in the southeast. This leads to many conversations and encounters with people who are unfamiliar with our Fellowship. I absolutely love being able to tell people about this fellowship of mine. I beam as I tell them what we stand for, how we strive to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, and the community we are attempting to nourish as we journey together. Whenever I am in a new place, I always have fun telling others about where I’ve come from and about the people I love. When life takes me elsewhere for a time, it’s always so sweet to return home. Cooperative Baptists are the people I claim and the Fellowship I come home to.
Sara is the Minister of Families and Outreach at FBC Glendale, Calif. She is a Florida CBF Ministerial Scholar, and attends Fuller Theological Seminary.