CBF poised for great opportunity, Paynter tells Governing Board


October 1, 2018

By Carrie McGuffin and Aaron Weaver

DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is poised for great opportunity and increased engagement in the days ahead, Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter told the Governing Board as she kicked off its two-day Sept. 27-28 meeting.

She gave reflections on her tenure since March 2013 leading the Fellowship and offered an assessment of what the future holds for the 27-year-old denomi-network.

“I’ll pen a retrospective of all my favorite moments and accomplishments of this amazing staff for all of you later,” said Paynter, who announced in July plans to transition her leadership. “I really want to speak about this transition time in leadership and talk about four major areas in CBF life.

“I think at this time of transition it is important to assess our organizational ability against our primary mission. And four things I believe make a difference in assessing our ability to advance our mission: strategy, business model, resources and culture.”

This strategy, she emphasized, is built on the implementation of objectives of the 2012 Task Force, a two-year study to chart the future of CBF.

“We are right now the prime example of traditioned innovation in the community of American religious life,” Paynter said. “Strategic initiatives which make that possible and position us to focus on our mission include five things: clarifying identity and developing deeper congregational ties; expanding diversity within CBF; expanding our commitment through global missions with the creation of new opportunities; expanding the commitment to the engagement of mission through the expansion of Together for Hope, CBF’s rural development coalition and deepening our commitment to CBF’s being a place to develop leaders in the Christian faith.”

There is also strategy within the business model of the Fellowship, with new focuses on strategic outreach for direct giving, becoming a provider of services, evaluation of events and cultivation of legacy gifts. This business model is strengthened through the resource of partnerships and relationships, including the network of 14 theological institutions that collaborate with CBF’s Young Baptist Ecosystem, PASSPORT, Inc., and partners that have contributed to the development of young people that are thriving in ministry and other Baptist partners like the Baptist World Alliance, and the Fellowship’s place as a leader within the ecumenical world, Paynter emphasized.

These relationships are a place for CBF to advance the organizational mission and the mission of Christian witness to be able to respond to the changing nature of policy and practice, she added.

“I want to speak to the importance of culture,” Paynter said. “By that, I mean the interpersonal relationships that have marked us as a loving, authentic and honest organization.”

These relationships are those of “strategic partnerships, ecumenical and interfaith work, in support of diversity and women in ministry, and emphasizing the value of individual and organizational ties,” she added. “We have a wonderful horizon of opportunity, and I think we have the capacity and talents to make that work. We are deeply attentive to what God has for us in this moment.”

Staff and Search Committee Reports

CBF Moderator Gary Dollar opened the two-day Fall meeting of the Governing Board with remarks and expressed his gratefulness to board members and staff. The two-day meeting featured reports from CBF staff leaders, CBF Church Benefits and updates on the work of the Ministries Council, Missions Council and Nominating Committee.

Ruth Perkins Lee, director of church engagement, highlighted an enhanced resource section of the new CBF website recently launched by communications staff. This new addition features all of CBF’s print and digital resources in an accessible and categorized layout. Learn more at Perkins Lee shared that the Ministries Council will be working together with church engagement and communications staff over the coming year to further enhance the site with helpful and innovative digital resources produced by churches.

The board also heard an update from the Executive Coordinator Search Committee. Jeff Roberts, a member of the Governing Board and chair of the search committee, shared that the committee met September 26 to view resumes of applicants and prepare for the first round of interviews scheduled for later in October. Read the recent update from Roberts here.

“This is an opportunity beyond myself and beyond my life, and I’m very proud and happy to be a part of this,” said Roberts, who serves as senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. “We have a great committee. In CBF life, when you sign up to do something, you discover we are blessed with wonderful people with incredible gifts.”

Learn more about the members of the Executive Coordinator Search Committee at

The board received a report from Jeff Langford, coordinator for CBF Heartland and convener of the Fellowship’s 18 state/regional organizations called the Movement Leadership Team, on how these groups will use block grants distributed as a product of CBF’s 25th Anniversary Campaign that raised more than $12-million.

Each state/region is receiving a $100,000 grant to spend across three focus areas of the 25th Anniversary Campaign: sustaining global missions, supporting health churches and nurturing young Baptists. The majority of the funding will be spent in sustaining global missions—funding mission efforts and projects as well as supporting engagement with CBF’s field personnel around the world, said Langford.

More than 26 percent of the block grant funding will impact Together for Hope, CBF’s rural development coalition, as those efforts and initiatives expand—including the development of at least 11 new Together for Hope sites.

The board heard from the personnel and legal committee, chaired by Rebecca Wiggs, attorney from Jackson, Miss., which brought a motion to affirm the Fellowship’s request to join litigation to defend a regulation intended to restrict predatory lending industry practices that create debt traps for consumers. The board unanimously affirmed the motion.

Matt Cook, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C., also brought an update from the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership Development, which is committed to improving processes related to the cultivation and nomination of individuals for governance bodies of the Fellowship. The committee has created a new leadership selection guidebook with more robust processes and job descriptions for committees, councils and the Governing Board.

Board Sept 18


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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