June 30, 2017
By Aaron Weaver and Carrie McGuffin
ATLANTA — A longtime staff leader of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was recognized and celebrated to kick off the final day of the 2017 General Assembly. Bo Prosser, CBF Coordinator of Organizational Relationships, was honored during the Friday morning business session for his 15 years of service to the Fellowship.
Prosser, who joined the CBF staff in 2002 as Coordinator for Congregational Life, is transitioning to a part-time role, where he will continue to lead CBF’s Ministerial Excellence Initiative as well as serve as a coach and consultant for CBF’s church renewal initiative called Dawnings.
CBF Moderator Doug Dortch affirmed Prosser’s ministry through a series of questions, inviting the gathered crowd to stand if they had served alongside Prosser; participated in programs, initiatives or retreats he has led; read and studied the many books he has authored; and heard his sermons or read his popular “Prayers of the People” columns in fellowship! magazine.
“So many in this room are better ministers because of Bo,” CBF Moderator Doug Dortch told the Assembly as the room stood together as examples of the lives touched through Prosser’s dedication to CBF. “So many churches are better congregations, so many laypeople have grown in their ministry because of Bo.”
Friends, colleagues and mentees also shared with the Assembly about the incredible impact of Prosser on their personal lives and ministries.
Jason Coker, field coordinator of CBF of Mississippi and former pastor of Wilton Baptist Church in Wilton, Conn., recounted Prosser’s leadership in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, when he led a team of chaplains and grief experts to provide training and care in the aftermath of the national tragedy.
Others voiced their love for Prosser and emphasized his friendship and dedication to serving local churches in a wide variety of roles, including as a longtime Sunday school teacher for a small class of young adults at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Ga.
“Thank you to my wife, Gail, for letting me live my dream for these past 15 years — I am blessed by you and all of you,” Prosser told the Assembly.
Theology of business
The final day of the 2017 General Assembly began with a greeting and prayer from Julie Whidden Long, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga., as attendees prepared to conduct its business session.
“It has been said that a church’s budget may be among its most theological documents, and likewise, how we do our business as this community of faith speaks to our theology,” Whidden Long said. “As Cooperative Baptists, we share a theology that values the inclusion of all voices in our decision-making, that calls for truth-telling and compassion and grace in our relationships with one another, and that challenges us to respond faithfully in our stewardship of resources and energies.”
Missions and Ministries Reports
During the time of business, the Assembly heard reports from the Missions Council, Ministries Council and CBF Church Benefits. The Ministries Council awarded four grants totaling $23,000 in the areas of criminal justice ministries, lay leadership development and general community engagement. This year’s grant recipients are Computer Skills and Job Training for Prison Inmates, a ministry of First Baptist Church, Hillsborough, N.C.; Studio Space, a lay-leadership development ministry of University Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Miss.; Sticky Faith, a lay-leadership development ministry of Trinity Baptist Church in Madison, Ala.; and The Dinner Table, a ministry of Gayton Baptist Church in Henrico, Va.
Two Cooperative Baptist seminarians from Baylor University and Wake Forest University were honored with the Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholarship, the Fellowship’s most prestigious scholarship, named in honor of former Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal and his wife, Earlene. The scholarship was created in 2011 to further CBF’s 25-year commitment to theological education, and is a foundational element in the Fellowship’s focus on nurturing young Baptists.
Christopher Dean, a student at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary and the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work in Waco, Texas, and Jenna Sullivan, a student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, N.C., were introduced as the recipients.
“Our 2017-18 Vestal Scholars, Jenna Sullivan and Chris Dean, are well-rounded and grounded as students and scholars,” said Devita Parnell, director of CBF’s Young Baptist Ecosystem. “They are naturally born leaders who are well-respected by their peers and professors, and they embody the attributes of Cooperative Baptists to pursue excellence in all things — to be authentic in their relationships and to approach ministry and their calling with innovation.”
Budget and Governance
In other business, the Assembly voted to approve the 2017-2018 CBF Missions and Ministries budget — a total revenue and expenses budget of $13,679,024, and also approved a slate of nominees to serve on the Fellowship’s governance bodies including new Moderator-Elect Gary Dollar.
Dollar is a nationally-recognized nonprofit leader and former CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis in Missouri. He is a partner with St. Louis-based EMD Consulting, which assists nonprofit groups in fundraising, leadership development and building organizational strength. Learn more about Dollar and view the list of new governance members here.
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.