June 18, 2015
By Jenny Lee
DALLAS — A large and diverse group of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship chaplains and pastoral counselors joined together for a luncheon Thursday to celebrate their unique ministries providing care in their diverse contexts.
“I thank you for what you’re doing, for being an extension of the church, for being the hands and feet, the body, and the reason of Christ” said Mark Wingfield, who serves as associate pastor at Dallas’ Wilshire Baptist Church, to the group. Wingfield shared a presentation about his church providing pastoral care when Ebola came near to their congregation.
“Life is made up of stories, and what we’re about in ministry is helping people to connect the dots of their stories,” he said.
As Wingfield tells the story, the congregation’s brush with Ebola began many years ago when a young Iranian refuge came to Wilshire Baptist with her husband and children. The support she found there led to her vocational ministry of caring for refugees — a ministry now called Gateway of Grace. Through Gateway of Grace, a family of Liberian women found community and joined the church.
Following the baptism of one of these women, it was discovered that her fiancé, Thomas Eric Duncan, had contracted Ebola. Duncan died of the disease at a Texas hospital, which became an international story as the family was placed in quarantined. A haze of anxiety fell upon the city of Dallas, according to Wingfield.
Throughout the weeks of supervised pastoral visits to the quarantined family, the church was reminded to practice “faith over fear,” he explained.
As senior pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist visited the family, he developed a way of hugging them without touching. During visits, he would cross his arms across his chest in what Wingfield referred to as a “virtual hug.” When the family was able to return to worship, the congregation greeted in this manner.
Continuing the theme of sharing stories, Ruth Perkins Lee, CBF’s Director of Ministries, spoke about the importance of CBF Peer Learning Groups.
“Our lives are about connecting those stories,” Perkins Lee said. “One point of connection for ministers to share their stories is through a CBF Peer Learning Group.
More than 600 people participate in these CBF-sponsored peer groups, according to Perkins Lee, noting that they come in a variety of forms but are all formed by individuals coming around a shared covenant. Approved groups are eligible for $500 in grant money to help meet the needs of the group. For more information about CBF Peer Learning Groups, visit http://www.cbf.net/peer-learning-groups.
To keep up with news, photos and videos from the 2015 CBF General Assembly in Dallas, Texas, and for information on watching the online livestream of the evening June 18-19 worship services of Assembly, please visit www.cbf.net/Dallas2015.
CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support.The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.