By Lawrence Powers
I’ve always stressed the importance of community with the students I serve. Whether it was in the basement youth room of a church near Raleigh or the halls of the student center on a college campus in Greenville, I’ve always encouraged students to seek out those with whom they can be transparent, honest and real.
Truthfully, over the years, I’ve been guilty of stressing this to others while ignoring my own advice. Recently, however, I’ve learned that community is not something I can afford to ignore. You see, over the past year and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the Fellows program with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. This program welcomes ministers in their first call who have recently graduated from Divinity School. Fellows is an opportunity to learn, to explore, to grow and, yes, to build community.
I remember, back in August 2014, when I first stepped into a room full of those accepted into the Fellows program. I knew only three of the ministers in the room and, being the natural introvert I am, sat right down at the table with those I knew. I remember wondering where the journey of Fellows would take me and how these other people, ministers just like me, would fit into it all.
I type these words this morning sitting in the main building of the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee about to complete our fourth Fellows gathering together. Three days ago I walked into a similar room full of the same people but, this time, I didn’t see a room full of strangers. This time I saw a room full of friends who I knew were as excited to be there as I was. These were not just random men and women who could relate to my ministry journey, these are people I’m thankful to call friends. These are ministers with whom I can be transparent, honest and real. Coming together is no longer a conference, it’s a family reunion.
I sit here, after another great week learning who I am as a Christian and minister, thankful for the community I’ve built and the Fellows family I carry with me every day- whether we’re together in person or not.
For these people, this experience, and the one who brings us all together, I give thanks.
CBF Fellows is currently accepting applications for the next cohort! Click here for more information.