by Kristopher Aaron
Theologically, I am a self-described moderate. And theologically, I agree with CBF’s stance on many issues, especially women. I believe that men and women are equally gifted and equally called to serve by God. And I have seen this personally. My wife, an ordained minister herself, is just as ministerially gifted as any male colleague I’ve met. She listens emphatically. She leads excellent Bible studies. And most importantly, she has a minister’s heart in the way she genuinely loves people. My wife is a talented minister and one of the reasons I’m a CBF Baptist is because I want to belong to a Baptist organization that affirms her giftedness.
I’m also a CBF Baptist because I want to serve in churches like FBC Hawkinsville, my home church that just ordained my soon to be 84-year-old grandmother as a deacon. My grandmother is the epitome of what a deacon is supposed to be and do. While she shows great signs of personal piety in her church attendance, prayer life, and her daily reading of Scripture, she also exhibits the heart of a servant in the way she takes people to the doctor and checks on others when they’re sick. She writes people notes, makes phone calls, and brings people food. I’m proud to be a member of and serve in churches that ordain people due to their giftedness and signs of spiritual maturity rather than their age or their gender. Being a CBF Baptist allows me to do that.
I’ve also seen theologically diversity in CBF and I believe that such diversity serves as a visible representation of theological freedom. I believe in the Baptist principles of soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom, and religious freedom. And one of the reasons I’m a CBF Baptist is because they aren’t just paid lip service in CBF. They are celebrated. There is no one from outside a local church that tries to tell church members who to ordain or how they should read the Bible. There is no one from outside a local congregation that tries to tell church members what specific creeds they must believe in or what theological positions they must hold. There is freedom in that, a freedom that allows local congregations to discern how the Spirit is leading them to get involved in their local communities.
I’m also a CBF Baptist because of the people. I’m a CBF Baptist because of field personnel like Wanda Ashworth, Trey and Jenn Lyon, Missy Ward Angalla, and Carson and Laura Foushee. I’ve seen them not only care for but also advocate on behalf of the people and the communities that they serve. I’ve seen their efforts to educate others on root causes of generational poverty and racism, so that the future for the people in their communities might be brighter than what they currently experience. I know about their efforts in advocating for refugee women who are often voiceless. I see how CBF encourages theological freedom and how it supports people with passion to help the less fortunate.
These are the many reasons why I am a CBF Baptist.
Kristopher Aaron is minister of church growth and outreach at Deer Park Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
This column is the second installment of a yearlong series sponsored and hosted by the Baptist History & Heritage Society, one of the Fellowship’s partners, exploring and celebrating why young Baptists identify with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Keep up with this “Voices of Young Baptists” series throughout 2015 by signing up to receive the Baptist Studies Bulletin, the free monthly online journal of BHHS providing articles, editorials and book reviews on Baptist history and issues of importance to Baptist individuals and congregations.