October 25, 2016
By Aaron Weaver
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — At 25 years old, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has become a “community formed by the stories and lives of authentic faithfulness, lively Christian discipleship and the renewal of the church,” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said Oct. 21 at the installation service of new CBF Heartland Coordinator Jeff Langford.
“From our founding to our future, we will continue on the same God-given journey,” Paynter told the crowd of Cooperative Baptists and other friends at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Mo. “Our CBF story is relevant and full of surprising gifts because it’s grounded in a much greater Gospel story.”
The strength of CBF is in the Fellowship’s aspirations, authenticity of friendship and common purpose and mission, she said.
“The strength of our Fellowship has been reverberating in our outward connections, our willingness to partner, our willingness to be friends, our willingness for ecumenical ventures, interfaith ventures, friendships across the larger Christian community with positive collegiality.”
Paynter spoke about visiting CBF churches across the country and hearing about “great journeys of redemption” as well as deep authentic faith narratives from members.
“The miraculous and beautiful manifestation of tomorrow’s faith resides in us,” Paynter said. “Chances are authentic faith for tomorrow won’t be found in Disneyland or Universal Studios or its ecclesiastical equivalents. Just as in times past, the miraculous and beautiful manifestation of tomorrow’s faithful church will be echoed in the cadences of 20 and 5 — Matthew 25.”
In our culture so often filled with objectification, hate and despair, the need to manifest God’s love is desperately needed, Paynter said.
“The simple Gospel is good enough for our time,” Paynter said. “For God so loved the world that He disrupted us with compelling love and gave us a Son. It’s a radical message and a simple call to bring compelling love, compassion and humaneness to bear everywhere. CBF churches are responding to their communities with life-changing, if not always headline-making, ministry. I’m very sure that the church will grow from the seeds that are here right now, and there’s good soil that these seeds are in right now.”
The worship and installation service which wrapped up the one-day Fall Assembly of CBF Heartland concluded with a time of laying on of hands on Langford, with prayers of blessing offered from Jason Edwards, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., where Langford and his family are members; Jordan Dollar, moderator-elect of CBF Heartland and chaplain in Illinois; and Paynter.
“We write this to make our joy complete,” said Langford in his installation response, quoting 1 John 1:4. “Like many passages in the Bible, verse four also comes with a footnote. It’s a footnote telling us that in some manuscripts, the passage reads, ‘We write this to make your joy complete.’”
“Sometimes, these little Bible footnotes can be a cause for concern or even confusion. But to me, this one is a cause for celebration. Because it is a confirmation of what we already know about our relationship together — that when we are in Fellowship, your joy is the same as our joy. In the Fellowship, ‘our’ and ‘your’ are interchangeable in all the right ways. When we are in Fellowship, we worship the same God, we serve the same Lord, and we share the same joy. Thank you for sharing in that joy tonight.”
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.