January 29, 2016
By Aaron Weaver and Carrie McGuffin
DECATUR, Ga. — “Where are we now?” — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter helped open on Thursday the Jan. 28-29 meeting of the CBF Governing Board with this question and her answer.
“I think we are poised for a great future,” Paynter said. “In my own keeping of goals around our work and keeping tabs over the things that have happened over the past three years, I know that we have a call to Christ-like ministry. This cohesive call to Christ-like ministry is something that is in us and follows us everywhere we go. We have developed clarity. We have a much clearer vision of who we are and where we’re going.”
Paynter offered an update to the Governing Board looking back at the past three years of missions and ministry and looking forward with the current energy of the Fellowship. Paynter shared updates on new initiatives, emphases and goals that have come to fruition within the past three years. She also expressed her gratitude to all past and present members of the Governing Board.
“We couldn’t have gotten to this moment without you,” Paynter said. “The first three-year pioneer group is at this table, and I am so indebted to you all. Who would’ve expected so much in so little time? I say ‘yes’ to this position in the Fellowship every day, and what I say ‘yes’ to now is this great momentum. I have faith in what is yet to come. That faith is built on a great example of what have seen in the last three years.”
CBF Moderator Matt Cook also offered words of encouragement to begin the two-day gathering.
“My prayer is that we as a Fellowship will embrace our unique identity as people of God,” Cook said. “We are going to do important, significant and meaningful things for God’s Kingdom in these two days. I genuinely believe that because of that, what God is pouring into us is going to spill out into the Kingdom in a wonderful way.”
The Governing Board heard updates from CBF officers on reports from the recent meetings of the Ministries Council, Missions Council and Nominating Committee as well as updates from the CBF Foundation and CBF Church Benefits.
CBF Past Moderator Kasey Jones shared that the Nominating Committee is working to develop and maintain a database of possible nominees to populate CBF’s governance bodies as well as create a form that will allow Cooperative Baptists to recommend other Cooperative Baptists for these positions of service. The report of the Ministries Council, offered by CBF Recorder Katie Sciba, highlighted the implementation of two new granting processes that will be available in the upcoming weeks to fund projects that will support churches in ministry efforts of building bridges in the church and in the community.
Gary Skeen, president of CBF Church Benefits, shared with the Governing Board about a recent $1 million grant that CBF received as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. This new initiative supports a variety of faith organizations across the nation through a combined $28 million in grants to address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively.
A recent survey of more than 600 pastoral leaders revealed a broad and deep burden among many leaders within the Fellowship, finding that financial literacy in the areas of budgeting, benefits and retirement, as well as debt management are barriers that impede the progress and efficiency of these leaders, Skeen told the Board.
CBF is establishing the Ministerial Excellence Fund in partnership with the CBF Foundation and is providing matching funds of $500,000 for the purpose of long-term sustainability, Skeen said. The Ministerial Excellence Fund will provide grant awards for immediate debt relief of CBF pastoral leaders as well as financial consultation, coaching sessions and other education programs for recipients. The granting process will begin during the second quarter of 2016. These efforts will also be embedded in existing CBF ministries and programs such as Peer Learning Groups, ChurchWorks Conference for Christian educators and the annual Leadership Institute held in conjunction with CBF General Assembly.
“One aspect of this for our Fellowship is also incorporating this initiative into our CBF Fellows program for ministers in their first full-time congregational ministry position and our Young Baptist Ecosystem,” Paynter added. “Now, we have a place to make this sustainable for those leaders down the pipeline.”
David King, who serves as a member of the Governing Board and directs the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving—an organization also part of this new Lilly Endowment initiative, emphasized the important impact of this work to the benefit of pastoral leaders within the Fellowship.
“It equips our pastors and committees within the church to have conversations around these subjects,” King said. “How can you preach and lead a congregation around issues of generosity if you have significant debt?
The Governing Board also approved a series of motions to clarify and refine CBF’s bylaws, including motions to: allow the Governing Board, Nominating Committee, Missions Council and Ministries Council to conduct meetings by telephone conference call or via other digital methods; allow the Nominating Committee to make interim appointments to the Governing Board, Missions Council and Ministries Council to fill a vacancy until the next General Assembly can approve the committee’s selection; to form a committee to nominate incoming members of the CBF Council on Endorsement, the body that oversees the endorsement of all CBF-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors; as well as details for how the Nominating Committee, Ministries Council and Missions Council selects its chair-elect.
The Board adopted several amendments to the Constitution, including a provision clarifying partner representation in CBF’s Ministries Council. These constitution and bylaw changes will now be presented to the General Assembly in June.
See photos from this meeting of the CBF Governing Board here.
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.