February 25, 2016
By CBF Communications
LITTLE ROCK, Ar. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas hosted a gathering on February 19 to bring together friends and leaders from across the state to celebrate their partnership with CBF and their shared 25th anniversary.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and CBF Moderator Matt Cook spoke, and nearly 150 attended. In honor of the anniversary, Second Baptist Church, one of the cornerstone CBF congregations in Little Rock, presented CBF with a gift of $25,000.
The gathering is a part of an ongoing effort by CBFAR’s Coordinator Ray Higgins to create a seamless relationship between CBF and CBFAR for Baptist Christians in Arkansas who lean into being the presence of Christ in the world. In their mutual 25-year history, CBF and CBFAR have formed together through shared programs, global mission partnerships and Together for Hope through Together for Hope Arkansas, which is in its 14th year of community engagement in Phillips County. Many CBF leaders have come from Arkansas, including Past Moderator Hal Bass, current Ministries Council member Randy Hyde, and current Governing Board member Charles Fuller.
Higgins gave an account of CBFAR’s founding and recognized the founders who were at the event.
“On March 21, 1991, a group of 90 people gathered at Lakeshore Drive Baptist Church to form a renegade affiliate organization to CBF Global. These 90 people became charter members in 1993, and 10 of those are in the room tonight.”
CBFAR’s Moderator and pastor of Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, Preston Clegg invoked Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s teaching on the South African concept of ubuntu to describe the partnership between CBF and CBFAR and to describe the mindset Christians should have about one another.
“Ubuntu means that I am because you are. It speaks to the very essence of being human. If someone has ubuntu, then you’re generous, hospitable, friendly, caring, compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say that my humanity is inextricably bound up in yours,” said Clegg, quoting Tutu. “Ubuntu — it’s why you’re here; it’s why I’m here. Tonight we are here to celebrate, to think about who we are, who we’ve been and who we will be.”
Cook, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wilmington, N.C., and former pastor of Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, commented on who CBF was and who CBF will be by explaining the reorganization of CBF’s Coordinating Council that the 2012 Task Force put into place, forming the current structure made up of the Governing Board, Missions Council, Ministries Council and Nominating Committee. Cook shared about the exciting work that the Ministries Council and the Missions Council has undertaken in awarding mini-grants to churches and by leading the efforts on the new Global Missions restructure, respectively.
Paynter reiterated that CBF could not be the denomi-network that it is without CBFAR. She praised CBFAR, especially their innovative missions, including Together for Hope Arkansas and their development of the South Africa Network.
“You have been a template for missions,” Paynter said. “I could stand here and list all the innovations that have been born in this state.”
Echoing Cook’s remark that missions are at the heart of the Cooperative Baptist movement, Clegg reminded the group that CBFAR and CBF are not an end unto themselves, but rather a means to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
“This movement is not about us. It’s not about my church or your church. It’s not about CBFAR; it’s not about CBF. It’s not even about being Baptist, believe it or not. To the extent that our movement has any meaning at all, it is about the kingdom of God.”
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.