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CBF completes retooling to support church engagement, expansion, diversity initiatives

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September 26, 2017

By Aaron Weaver

DECATUR, Ga. — Completing the retooling work announced in May, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has released additional details of team-oriented plans to heighten its focus on church engagement, diversity, expansion and identity-building.

As CBF seeks to deepen its engagement with and service to local congregations, a new team of staff devoted exclusively to church engagement has been formed and is led by Ruth Perkins Lee, who serves as CBF’s Director of Church Engagement. Other members of this team include Joshua Speight, Manager of Leadership Development; Craig Janney, Manager of Reference and Referral; and Ryan Clark, Manager of Global Resources.

A team has also been formed to concentrate on expansion initiatives and congregational leadership, working to introduce CBF to established churches seeking a grace-filled home and facilitating culturally-contextual church starting initiatives throughout the United States. Led by Harry Rowland in the role of Associate Coordinator of Congregations and Leadership, this team is tasked with nurturing and coordinating relationships with existing CBF networks and developing new networks and congregational initiatives that promote leadership, especially in regions of expansion such as the Southwest United States. Rowland and his team will also represent the Fellowship in the ecumenical community.

Members of this team include Rubén Ortiz, who joined the CBF staff during the summer as Latino Field Coordinator; Andy Hale, who directs CBF’s church starts initiative; Marv Knox, who serves as Field Coordinator of Fellowship Southwest — a regional network launched earlier this year to promote Baptist identity, Christian cooperation and effective missions and ministry in the Southwest U.S.; Jason Coker, Field Coordinator of Together for Hope, CBF’s rural development coalition; and Devita Parnell, who was recently promoted to serve as Director of the CBF Young Baptist Ecosystem.

To implement new diversity initiatives, another team has been formed and is led by Kasey Jones, former CBF Moderator (2014-2015) who recently joined the CBF staff in the role of Associate Coordinator of Strategic Operations. Jones will work closely with CBF state and regional organizations and the Fellowship’s governance bodies to develop and prioritize diversity initiatives for the Fellowship.

Members of Jones’ team focused on diversity initiatives include Mark Pollard, an Atlanta and Washington, D.C.-based consultant who is helping to guide African-American outreach efforts and the CBF African-American Network alongside Carrol Wilson, who serves as the CBF staff liaison to the network and chairs the Diversity Committee of the CBF staff. Jones also oversees Decatur-based staff in the areas of finance and accounting, development and operations.

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said these efforts to positon CBF for the future have been vital.

“CBF is in a great place strategically as we seek to grow the Fellowship,” Paynter said. “We will expand our reach and our diversity as we encourage, equip and bless churches new and old. I am ecstatic about the talented staff assembled in Decatur and across the U.S. and the world to carry out the Great Commission by sharing God’s great love.”

Other staff additions include Daniel Todd as Director of Accounting and John Mark Boes as Partnerships and Advocacy Specialist. Todd joins CBF’s senior leadership team with nearly 20 years of experience in the accounting field, and Boes, a recent graduate of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, previously served for three years as a part-time associate for CBF Ministries while a student.

CBF Global Missions also has several staff changes as part of the completion of its comprehensive restructuring plan announced in January 2016. CBF field personnel Greg and Sue Smith of Fredericksburg, Va. (Internationals North America), Stephanie Vance (Rural Americas) and another couple (Middle East/North Africa) have assumed new responsibilities as field-based Area Coordinators for Mission Teams (ACMT). They join CBF field personnel Matt and Michelle Norman (Internationals Europe and Central Europe) and Cindy and Eddy Ruble (Asia and Asia Islands), who have served as ACMTs for the past year.

Several CBF field personnel will transition October 1 off the field after years of faithful mission service, and long-time members of the CBF Global Missions staff, Tere Canzoneri and Lori Irons-Crenshaw, will conclude their service in the Decatur office. Global Missions also welcomes Linda Jones, missions coordinator for CBF of North Carolina, in a part-time role focused on mission promotion and developing Encourager Church networks.

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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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