July 12, 2016
By Carrie McGuffin
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi has welcomed home a native of the state as its new field coordinator.
K. Jason Coker will not only serve as the head of CBF Mississippi but also will serve in a joint role with CBF as leader for Together for Hope (TFH), CBF’s rural poverty initiative.
Coker, is a native of Shaw, Miss., and the founder of Delta Hands for Hope, a TFH site and a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen and enhance local community assets related to education, spiritual development, health and recreation of school-age children in the Mississippi Delta and surrounding areas. Coker is also a former elected officer of the CBF Governing Board.
He most recently served as pastor of Wilton Baptist Church in Wilton, Conn., since 2007 (associate pastor from 2001-2006), has nearly 20 years of ministerial experience, serving churches in Mississippi, Texas and Connecticut. A graduate of William Carey College and Yale University Divinity School, Coker holds a Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity from Drew University in Madison, N.J.
“I am excited to join CBFMS and forge the future with such good people and churches,” Coker said. “We will work together to strengthen our current churches, start new churches, invigorate our mission work and grow our capacity as a state denomi-network. I look forward to developing relationships with other state-level denominational and faith leaders to make an impact in the state of Mississippi. I want to turn the excitement within CBFMS into transformation for the state.”
Coker said that he looks forward to working with Together for Hope practitioners as well as Together for Hope Manager Stephanie Vance to continue the important work of transformational development in 20 of the poorest counties in the United States.
“I also look forward to working with Stephanie Vance and other Together for Hope leaders to engage state and federal government agencies as well as foundations to resource our partners and practitioners across the country,” Coker said. “Building these relationships has the potential to significantly impact our capacity to change the landscape of rural poverty in America. Between CBF Mississippi and Together for Hope, I am ready to pour myself into this work.”
Cooperative Baptist leaders in Mississippi echoed Coker’s excitement as they welcome their new coordinator. CBFMS Moderator Gabe Swann, who serves as pastor of Church Arise in Decatur, Miss., noted his anticipation for Coker’s positive and energetic influence across the state.
“CBF Mississippi is very blessed to have a man of Jason Coker’s caliber taking over as our field coordinator,” Swann said. “We are excited about the future and feel that we are poised to make a huge difference in the state of Mississippi. We look forward to what God has in store for us.”
CBF Governing Board member Rebecca Wiggs, who serves as CBFMS treasurer and was part of the committee that selected Coker for the position, said she is thrilled for and encouraged by Coker’s return.
“Jason’s vision for our community is so compelling that it’s almost contagious,” Wiggs said. “His willingness to return to Mississippi has energized our lay leadership and clergy members. This particular branch of the Jesus movement is now poised to show a way forward to racial reconciliation and meeting the needs of our fellowship Mississippians.”
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said Coker is the right person to lead CBF Mississippi.
“Jason Coker is the right person at the right time to lead CBF Mississippi into the future,” Paynter said. “He is an attentive pastor and a strong hands-on leader. He is an effective advocate and has a broad network to engage people and churches in ministry throughout the state and beyond.”
Coker will begin his new roles with CBF Mississippi and CBF on July 17.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.