By Lauren Hovis
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.
- CBF Governing Board receives Illumination Project recommendation, adopts Christ-centered hiring policy by Aaron Weaver and Jeff Huett
- Honoring Autonomy and Reflecting the Fellowship – The Report of the Illumination Project Committee
- Illuminations: Agreeing to Disagree, Agreeably by Steve Wells
- Illuminations: The Healing Space between “Good” and “Bad” by Julie Pennington Russell
- Illumination Project: On cooperation, transformation and hope by Doug Dortch