Illuminations

CBF and CBF Heartland: Creating Vibrant Connections

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of a new series called “Illuminations,” which aims to highlight stories of cooperation, unity and diversity from across the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Illuminations is a communications initiative of the Illumination Project, a project of discernment and accompaniment involving CBF congregational leaders to illuminate the qualities that have built unity in CBF, and through discernment, identify intentional processes to maintain and grow unity through cooperation. Learn more about the Illumination Project at www.cbf.net/illuminationproject

By Jeff Langford

This past Friday, CBF Heartland held its Fall Assembly, the first large-group gathering we have planned in several years. As the details of the event came together, I suggested that we end the meeting with a theme song. In previous years, Assemblies had frequently closed with attendees joining hands to sing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” But we had gotten out of the habit of concluding in song.

I wondered if we were missing out on something powerful.

Music has the ability to capture our emotions. It’s one of the reasons colleges have fight songs instead of responsive readings. Music is a powerful force that enlivens our spirits where words alone fall short. Music makes vibrant connections between our heads and our hearts.

After a week of browsing hymnals, humming in the car and singing in the shower, I landed on a theme song for CBF Heartland, a fight song without the fighting: “Arise, your light is come! The Spirit’s call obey; show forth the glory of your God which shines on you today.”

While the song is usually sung during Advent, its focus on the illuminating power of Christ makes it worthy of year-round attention. The lyrics ask us to take action by reflecting Christ’s light to the hurting people of the world, and the song ends with an affirmation of God’s power to strengthen us in this work.

I hope the song reflects the impact of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and CBF Heartland in the world.

At the Assembly, a powerful image of the Fellowship’s light-spreading impact emerged as CBF Heartland announced the winner of its 2016 Caboodle Grant. The grant is funded — $52 at a time —by members of a giving circle, who also get to choose the grant winner.  Dr. Jon Roberts, who accepted the $3.500 grant on behalf of the Good Samaritan Care Clinic in Mountain View, Missouri, shared how CBF had inspired and encouraged the clinic, which offers Christian-inspired healthcare to the working poor of southern Missouri.

Roberts told how joining CBF on his first-ever mission trip led him to serve on several more international mission trips in subsequent years. Following his third trip to China, someone asked him why he did medical mission overseas when so many hurting people in Mountain View needed his help. This observation convinced Roberts to start the Good Samaritan Care Clinic. Since opening in 2003, the clinic has provided more than 20,000 medical visits and 4,000 dental visits.

CBF and CBF Heartland have been partners in making connections between personal faith, global missions and local ministry for 25 years. This partnership is founded on a mutual calling to bear witness to Jesus Christ. It is built on a mutual vision of partnering to renew God’s world. It is sustained through mutual action; the work of serving Christians and churches requires our collaboration. We share genuine friendship, so we strive to support and encourage. We partner because we trust each other, even when we disagree.

CBF Heartland’s partnership with CBF permeates nearly every mission and ministry endeavor we undertake. This includes our current Global Missions work in Haiti with CBF field personnel Jenny Jenkins as well as our on-going partnership with Roma Christians in Eastern Europe through CBF field personnel Dianne and Shane McNary, Jon and Tanya Parks and Ralph and Tammy Stocks. On the Ministries side, there are too many connections to name — from chaplaincy to reference and referral to the CBF Foundation to the Young Baptist Ecosystem.

Each and every connection matters, from the preschooler learning about CBF missionaries in Sunday school to the doctor who brings missions service back to his hometown.  I’m thankful that CBF is a vibrant part of each connection.

Jeff Langford serves as coordinator of CBF Heartland. Learn more about CBF Heartland at www.cbfheartland.org.

Additional Reading:

CBF and Alabama CBF: A Deep and Abiding Unity (by Terri Byrd)

Unity in our Diversity as Cooperative Baptists (by Ray Higgins)

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