CBF recognizes young laity, announces inaugural “25 Young Leaders to Know” group


February 7, 2017

By Carrie McGuffin

DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship celebrates the young lay leaders of the Fellowship with the premier of “25 Young Leaders to Know,” a new initiative of the CBF Ministries Council.

CBF kicked off its celebration of the organization’s 25th Anniversary during the 2016 General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., where the Fellowship affirmed its commitment to sustaining Global Missions, forming healthy churches and nurturing young Baptists. In an effort to recognize young leaders across the Fellowship, the CBF Ministries Council has launched the “25 Young Leaders to Know” initiative as a way of shining a light on young Baptists who have been shaped by and who are shaping the Fellowship and who are compelled by Christ’s love to invest in the ministries of CBF churches as well as state and regional organizations.

The 25 Young Leaders to Know for 2017 were nominated by churches and individuals from across all 18 states and regions of CBF, and represent the Fellowship as leaders who are hopeful about the future of the church, deeply invested in ministry and are recognized as inspirations to their peers and communities.

Many of the young leaders reflect the great work of churches, field personnel and partners in the Fellowship — growing up in CBF churches, serving alongside field personnel through short-term missions and Student.Go internships, attending and staffing PASSPORT Camps and beyond.

Devita Parnell, CBF’s Young Baptist Ecosystem manager, expressed her excitement about this new initiative and the connection that it gives to laity from around the country.

“There are so many amazing young leaders across our Fellowship who are passionate about the church and who care about the world,” Parnell said. “Much of our work over the years at CBF has been in developing professional clergy through theological education. As a result, CBF has a strong connection with paid church staff members, pastors, etc., but the real heart of CBF partner congregations is in the work of the laity — the body of Christ. It’s time for us to dig deeper and learn from and share the gifts of the entire congregation.”

The selected young leaders are laity who are experts in diverse fields of work — from education to experience with nonprofit organizations, from healthcare to engineering, from music to writing and more. Their stories have the power to inspire people of all ages across the Fellowship,” Parnell said.

Here are your 25 Young Leaders to Know for 2017:

  • Seth Asbill – Duke Memorial UMC, Durham, N.C.
  • Joshua Ballew – Tabernacle Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.
  • Chase Callahan – First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ark.
  • Bonnie Chappell – First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
  • Mary Grace Cox – Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.
  • JJ Crumpler – Oxford, Ohio
  • Molly Huffstetler Dean – First Baptist Church, Mt. Holly, N.C.
  • Erin Finley – First Baptist Church, Norman, Okla.
  • David Henry – Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark.
  • Lauren Hovis – Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
  • Ben Huston – Highland Hills Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.
  • Robert Kahne – Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.
  • Ross Kasmann – First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo.
  • Michelle Martin – Petaluma Valley Baptist Church, Petaluma, Calif.
  • Katherine Mullen – Broadmoor Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Erin Poindexter – First Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas
  • Michael Raimer-Goodman – South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
  • Leigh Ridge – First Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
  • Bethany Rigney – University Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Lane Riley – Delta Hands for Hope, Shaw, Miss.
  • Charlotte Rice – First Baptist Church, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Sarah Jane Richardson – Purdy Baptist Church, Emporia, Va.
  • Leon Scott – Trinity Baptist Church, Seneca, S.C.
  • Kristen Vincent – Trinity Baptist Church, Seneca, S.C.
  • Krysten Wendell – First Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn.

Learn more about each of these young leaders in the latest issue of fellowship! magazine, and find audio interviews with some of our recipients below. Be on the lookout for more interviews with our young leaders at


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.

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