By Emily Holladay
“I wish I had something like CBF Fellows when I was your age.”
“I wish my profession had something like that program you are in.”
Since I started my two year journey as a CBF Fellow in August 2016, I have heard those two things from clergy and lay people alike.
The last year and a half, I have walked alongside 15 of the most courageous, thoughtful, hard-working young ministers as we journey together through our first years of full time ministry.
The first time I met this collection of ministers, we were asked to share a word or phrase that described why we were excited to be there:
We offered these words to God that day. They became our collective prayer as we sought to make the best use of this gift the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship had so generously granted us.
Over the course of the last 18 months, God brought these words to life in ways far beyond my imagining, and I am forever grateful.
Solidarity. The spaces we share together, whether conference rooms or computer screens, are some of the most sacred I enter each month, containing both the heartiest laughter and weariest tears. In these spaces, we know we are not alone, and that we are seen, heard, and valued exactly as we are.
We find Encouragement, because we know we have each other. We know we have a space where people “get it,” and that makes all the difference in the world. Some weeks, we talk every day. Others, we might send out one message. Every day, we know there are people cheering us on and there is a space where we always know we are supported and understood no matter what.
Growth. Throughout our time in the CBF Fellows program, we engage with seven faculty members – ministers, coaches, and CBF leaders with more years under their belt – who teach us trends in church life, leadership skills, and how to look for God in every encounter we experience. As individuals, they help us to see how we can use our unique personalities and skills to navigate the rocky terrain of ministry in the most healthy and productive ways.
Our growth is often measured in an increasing sense of Confidence exuded by each of us. The tone of our conversations and our responses to ministry stumbles has changed since day one. Before, we spoke like students eager to be taught. Today, we speak as pastors, more and more confident in our ability to lead in our context and beyond. We guide one another. And, even when life throws one of us a curve ball, we speak to each other with confidence that each of us are called and equipped to make a difference in our circumstances.
Hope. As my two years as a CBF Fellows comes to a close (much faster than I would like), I find hope in knowing there are 15 other ministers who care as deeply about the Church, and about following God’s leadership, as I do. I find hope in knowing that there are seven faculty members, and countless other CBF leaders and lay people, investing in us because they care too. The work of God’s church through CBF will continue to be strong, courageous, and innovative, because of these people, the two cohorts of CBF Fellows before us, and the ones to come.
Emily Holladay is a part of the 2016-2018 CBF Fellows cohort and serves as the Associate Pastor – Children and Families at Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
Being a member of the second CBF Fellows cohort was one of the most formative experiences of my ministry career thus far. I was not only given the opportunity to explore critical topics in practical and contextually translatable ways, I did so surrounded by a cohort of colleagues who have become life-long friends. If you’re looking for a program that will deepen your vocational calling, expand your understanding of ministry, and prepare you to better engage the journey ahead, look no further than CBF Fellows.
Lawrence Powers was a part of the 2014-2016 CBF Fellows cohort and serves as
Campus Minister for CBF of North Carolina.
CBF is now accepting applications for the 2018-2020 cohort of CBF Fellows. If you are (or know of) a young minister in their first-call ministry position, do not pass up this opportunity. Your life and ministry will be transformed by the solidarity, encouragement, growth, confidence, and hope you will find through the CBF Fellows program. To apply or to learn more about CBF Fellows, visit www.cbf.net/fellows or contact the Director of CBF Fellows, Josh Speight, at email@example.com.