June 24, 2016
By Aaron Weaver and Carrie McGuffin
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Cooperation and an ethic of love are the keys to the future of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, incoming CBF Moderator Doug Dortch said during the Friday morning session of the 2016 General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C.
Sharing his dreams for the Fellowship, Dortch reflected on the idea that while CBF is only 25 years old, Cooperative Baptists have knowledge and wisdom far beyond 25 years of ministry to use as the denomi-network continues to evolve.
“One of the things I’ve experienced in the years since I was 25 is that we are always able to accomplish so much more when we are together,” Dortch said.
This spirit of togetherness is what drives the dreams that Dortch has for the Fellowship as it confronts change and takes on new initiatives like that of the Illumination Project, adopted by the CBF Governing Board earlier this week.
“My dream is that in the midst of all the conversations that are taking place in the groups around us and the conversations that we will have, is that people on the outside will marvel at what God’s people will be able to do and that the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us will continue to rejoice,” Dortch said.
“The second dream I have is that in the face of all the changes that are taking place around us that our Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will become a community of faith that will be able to manage whatever changes are before us because we are driven by an ethic of love.”
This ethic of love, Dortch explained, is the love Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians, a love that never fails even in the face of change.
“I dream of our ability to manage the things that are before us as we work together around the ethic of love,” Dortch said. “I dream that God will inspire us to focus on simply being what we say we want to be, focus on being faithful.
This cooperation and ethic of love, Dortch concluded, will help the Fellowship to accomplish more than it could ever dream, and the best is yet to come.
Cooperative Baptists heard many reports and updates during the Friday morning session of the 2016 CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., and adopted a motion from the Governing Board to enthusiastically endorse the new renewal plan of CBF Global Missions to support the long-term presence of more than 100 field personnel serving in 30 countries around the world.
The Assembly also voted to name Shauw Chin Capps as CBF Moderator-Elect and affirmed nominations of individuals to serve on the Governing Board, Ministries Council, Missions Council, Nominating Committee, as well as trustees to serve on the boards of CBF Church Benefits and the CBF Foundation. A number of minor revisions to the CBF Constitution and Bylaws were approved as well a $14,175,000 revenue and expense budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which begins October 1.
Emily Hull McGee, outgoing chair of the CBF Ministries Council, delivered an update on the council’s work as the body that is tasked to identify, develop and deploy the assets of the Fellowship and to empower shared ministry networks in accordance with policies set by the Governing Board.
Throughout the year, the council focused on four priority work groups in the areas of supporting congregations, equipping ministers and lay leaders, nurturing young Baptists and cultivating partnerships and encouraging advocacy. Within these focal groups, initiatives have emerged around financial literacy, advocacy work around payday lending, Peer Learning Group models, compiling sabbatical policies and resources and planning for gathering spaces for young Baptists, Hull McGee reported.
Three granting groups within the council also awarded six churches with grant funds to enable ministries related to financial health and engaging justice in their communities.
The following are recipients of these grant funds: Garden of Hope, Heights Community Church in Roanoke, Va.; Positive Enforcement, Augusta Heights Baptist Church and Greenville Church Without Walls in Greenville, S.C.; Books to Grow, City Church in Del Rio, Texas; Hope House, Hope Valley Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.; Food for Infants, First Baptist Church in Norman, Okla.; and Community Food Pantry, Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C.
Joshua Speight, CBF’s missional congregations resources manager and director of the CBF Fellows program, recognized the conclusion of the 2014-2016 cohort of CBF Fellows, a program which assists young Baptist clergy in their “first-class” position and offers support and resources as they make the transition from seminary into congregational ministry.”
“These Fellows and their congregations are leading exceptional ministry in their communities and we are a better Fellowship for it,” Speight said. “I am grateful for these Fellows who gave space for God to speak new questions into their lives and into their ministries.”
Speight also introduced the newest cohort of CBF Fellows who will begin their journey as the 2016-2018 cohort.
The CBF Foundation announced two awards during the Friday morning session. Ardmore Baptist Church of Winston-Salem, N.C., was honored with the Patricia Ayres Award of Excellence for Generous Giving for its record levels of giving to retire debt, fund ministry and initiate the Randall Lolley Scholarship for Theological Education.
Bert and Deane Langdon of Oklahoma City were presented the Award of Excellence for Generous Giving. The Langdons, who were active in CBF West for many years while residing in California have invested and planned for a Legacy Gift through their estate that will keep on serving CBF beyond this generation, CBF Foundation President Jim Smith said.
“The CBF Foundation is focused on promoting financial health for congregations and promoting a culture of generous giving in the Fellowship, with a mission to develop receive an invest in long-term gift arrangements to benefit CBF and CBF-partner ministry”
Also honored were the recipients of the Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholarships, Caitlyn Furr, a student at Emory Univerity’s Candler School of Theology and Jared Jaggers, a student at TCU’s Brite Divinity School. Former CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal offered words of encouragement to the students as they received this award.
“Your vision, your passion, your values, your perspectives are valuable to us as a Fellowship. As you bring all this and your calling and passion to the Fellowship you help us all to become more like Jesus.”
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.