Assembly 2017 / Newsroom

Kirby Godsey honored with Crumpler Leadership Award during General Assembly


June 30, 2017

By Carrie McGuffin

ATLANTA — Dr. R. Kirby Godsey was honored Friday evening during the 2017 CBF General Assembly with the Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler Leadership Alumni Award.


CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter introduces Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, recipient of the Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler Leadership Alumni Award

Kirby Godsey has served as chancellor of Mercer University in Macon, Ga., since 2006. Prior to his tenure at Mercer, Godsey as the president of Mercer University for 27 years. Godsey is chairman of the board of Birch Communications and Myers McRae Executive Search and Consulting Firm. He is the author of numerous books, including his most recent, The God Particle: God-Talk in a Big Bang World, which received the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Award.

For decades, Godsey has been a leader in the life of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, having serving on CBF’s Coordinating Council in the 1990s.

“We thank God for your impact,” said CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter. “We have you to thank for a major innovation — in University-based theological education. That kind of innovation, we claim that as CBF. It is something that has made us strong. Thank you for giving us the strong leg of our three-legged stool of global missions, ministries and theological education.”

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Leadership Alumni Award is named for Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, a prominent leader in CBF life who passed away in January 2015. The naming of the award honors all that Crumpler represented as an advocate of CBF and global missions. The award is presented each year to a past Coordinating Council or Governing Board member who exemplifies outstanding service to the Fellowship.

“I want to thank you for this gracious recognition,” Godsey said. “I am grateful to receive an award that bears the name of a great woman from an organization that is led by another great woman.”

Godsey shared about the influential women in his life, offering that women lead the world differently, often with different priorities based on relationship and collaboration. He also presented a challenge to the leaders of the Fellowship.


Dr. R. Kirby Godsey challenges CBF leaders to live forward and embody the incarnation

“I believe the most important challenge for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is learning how to embody the incarnation,” he said. “I think the Christian faith is not about the worship of Jesus. The more compelling calling of our faith is to follow Jesus. The disciples were called to follow, not worship. The act of following changes everything.”

This following of Jesus is living out the incarnation, and in this incarnational witness, Godsey challenged, we must let go of history and look forward to where Christ is compelling the Fellowship, rather than backward.

“Life in the rear-view mirror is an illusion,” he said. “The future of CBF lies in living forward. That means allowing new voices to speak. Let go of control — trust is a better path.”


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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