Illumination / Illumination Project

Illuminations: I am sticking with CBF

By Lauren Hovis

Lauren Hovis

Lauren Hovis, Washington, D.C.

I have deep gratitude and respect for the people who spent the better part of a year and a half working on the Illumination Project. I know this was a difficult task and I appreciate their servanthood.

Nevertheless, I have to acknowledge that I am disappointed in the full recommendation. I think few people are fully satisfied with the recommendation, no matter which side of the issue on which they fall. Over the past week, I have experienced a range of emotions—from heartbreak, to frustration, to grief, to a little anger. As I ran through the course of these emotions, I began to reflect on what CBF has meant to me and what CBF has meant to the world. With this reflection in hand and considering the conversations I’ve had with people inside and outside the Fellowship, I eventually landed on hope.

With this hope, I have decided I am sticking with CBF.

I am sticking with CBF because I believe in its mission. I find comfort that the Baptist principle of church autonomy is central to CBF’s identity. CBF is one of the few places in Christian society with a mission founded on celebrating and utilizing the diversity of opinions, theologies, and missiologies of its network. Because of this, I am proud to be a part of a network of churches, organizations, and people that strive to work together to renew God’s world even when everyone has a different perspective. I think being a part of something bigger than myself and my church is essential to growing the “kin-dom” of God.

I am sticking with CBF because I support our field personnel. Whether they are welcoming refugees in Uganda, serving the Latino community in Fredericksburg, Virginia, leading English ministries in Japan, or addressing systemic poverty in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, our field personnel deserve my continued support through the Offering for Global Missions. When I was Student.Go intern during college, CBF field personnel taught me what sustainable development looks like better than any textbook or undergraduate lecture could. Because of their sacrifices and persistence to live as Christ did, I cannot abandon their ministries. They embody what it means to cultivate beloved community, bear witness to Jesus Christ, and seek transformational development in the world.

I am sticking with CBF because it has cultivated me. Along with other millennial CBFers and others younger than us, I was raised in this Fellowship. I traveled to General Assemblies with my parents, participated in Passport Camps and with other CBF partner organizations, became a member of a CBF campus ministry during college, and volunteered with CBF-affiliated short-term missions. CBF taught me how to be a Christian. Even with its quirks, which come with any family, I am honored to be a part of CBF because it is home. I cannot give up on my home.

Finally, I am sticking with CBF because I need to challenge myself. Too many times I have talked about celebrating diversity of opinion without practicing it. I often stay close to my tribe and pat myself on the back for being a good Christian. However, as I have mentioned before, we need to challenge ourselves to occasionally break from our tribe and interact with people holding different beliefs. CBF can be this place, which I believe is crucial to God’s work in this world. Challenging ourselves this way moves us closer to tearing down destructive divisions, encouraging inclusivity, and forming relationships united in love.

President Obama once said, “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” Friends, if you are able, will you stick with CBF in some way and continue walking down the path with me. CBF needs your participation and leadership if we’re going to continue living into Christ’s example.

Lauren Hovis works in the international development field in Washington, D.C. She serves on the Mid-Atlantic CBF Coordinating Council as well as the CBF Missions Council. She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church in D.C.

Additional Reading:

5 thoughts on “Illuminations: I am sticking with CBF

  1. Thank you for your thought out response to the IP report and adoption by the governing board. I too will stick with CBF. I too am challenging myself. I too will challenge my church. I too care about these people we have told to sit in the corner and wait . . . How Long Oh Lord, How Long . . .

  2. –Your words: Challenging ourselves this way moves us closer to tearing down destructive divisions, encouraging inclusivity, and forming relationships united in love.

    –Illumination report: CBF “global partners” in ministry, the report states, “have decisively rejected movement toward hiring or supporting LGBT field personnel or the inclusion of LGBT persons in ordained leadership.” The implementation procedure for missionary hiring “reflects and respects” that reality.

    Big chasm, Lauren, between your rationalizations and the stated purpose of this hiring report. What the CBF once again affirms with these renewed marching orders, and the face that it has chosen to continue to present to the world, includes decisive rejection, exclusion, and division. Certainly not love.

  3. 1. Stop tokenizing black people to try to validate what you are saying.
    2. If you want to represent black people, perhaps have some black voices on your page.
    3. If you want to actually validate or bring some kind of value to this really messed up thing that you did, you should perhaps consider uplifting queer and trans voices. Straight people get enough voice. It’s time to start valuing diversity by valuing queer and trans people by at least having the decency to give them voice.

    What CBF is affirming is that queer and trans people are not welcome in public, visible ministry. It is disgraceful and sinful, not to mention disrespectful to all the people that this affects. At least give them a voice. If you can’t do that, then, you should say nothing at all!

  4. The teaching of the Bible is clear: Sex between a man and a woman is God’s intention. All other sexual relationships are sinful. Two thousand years of Christian tradition affirms marriage between a man and a woman.

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