June 20, 2019
By Carrie Harris
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The 2019 General Assembly continued Thursday with a “Fellowship at Work” business session where attendees heard reports and updates on the missions and ministries of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
“When faithful servants of God say ‘yes’ to serving, there is no limit to the mountains God can move through us,” said Shauw Chin Capps, who served as CBF Moderator for 2017-2018, as she gave the report of the CBF Governing Board, offering thanks to the Executive Coordinator Search Committee which selected Rev. Dr. Paul Baxley in February to serve as the Fellowship’s fourth Executive Coordinator.
Even in this time of leadership transition, she explained, the Fellowship continues its “cutting edge and courageous work here and around the world.”
This courageous work continues in the areas of racial justice and reconciliation, Capps said, as well as in the work of the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force, a joint effort of CBF and Baptist Women in Ministry.
“Thanks to the visionary and courageous leadership of Suzii Paynter and Pam Durso, along with the legacy of the work of Dr. Diana Garland, CBF’s Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force was formed even before the #MeToo movement took center stage in 2017,” said Capps. “Since then, this task force has developed robust safe church resources.”
These resources are available on the CBF website and the task force is ready to guide congregations toward providing safe spaces for all. Learn more at www.cbf.net/safechurches.
This essential work that flourished under the leadership of former CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter will go on, and her legacy will also continue into the future, Capps told attendees.
“We sought a way to honor Suzii’s passion for ministry,” said CBF Moderator Gary Dollar. “Combining Suzii’s passion for advocacy and public policy with an emphasis on young Baptists and CBF congregations, we have created an endowed fellowship program.”
This new fellowship program, named the “Suzii Youngblood Paynter Advocacy Fellowship,” focuses on Cooperative Baptists who are pursuing careers in public policy or public service—providing college or seminary students and/or recent graduates of academic programs in social work, law or similar areas, who seek advocacy experience alongside the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or its partners over a summer or a semester. Fellowship participants will work to advance CBF advocacy and justice priorities as they gain experience alongside CBF and its partners in state, national and international advocacy.
“The essential quality that fellowship recipients would demonstrate is that each plans to put his or her faith to action through a career in public service or public policy,” Dollar said.
Paynter offered her deep gratitude for the gifts of the Fellowship and her time as CBF Executive Coordinator.
“I am awash in gratitude,” said Paynter. “I am so grateful for so much in this moment—primarily for the surprising call of God. I am so grateful for God’s imagination that beckoned me out of small places to large dreams. I’m so grateful for God’s imagination for the churches that formed me, that gave me freedom and beauty and calm and community. I am so grateful for our Fellowship of churches in community here and around the world. I am grateful for field personnel…these amazing ambassadors for Christ.
“I am so grateful for adventurous obedience to my Lord Jesus Christ. All I’ve really wanted to do is be like Him, and I found a community that allowed me in all my imperfections to live out my vision of His call. Thank you for each opportunity, for these gifts today, for this beautiful opportunity to serve and to leave with delight and with energy and with love.”
Transition was the theme of the morning’s Fellowship at Work session, as outgoing CBF Moderator Gary Dollar offered his reflections of the past year and incoming CBF Moderator Kyle Reese offered his dreams for the coming year.
“The past year has not disappointed me in the effort to define Baptist at its best,” said Dollar. “All across the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, I have watched entire churches, groups of churches and individuals step up to serve the least of these—our brothers and sisters on the border, to demonstrate and testify to stop predatory lending practices that financially enslave its victims, to respond to disasters large and small, to redefine Baptists as a loving, caring, accepting group of people serious about loving Jesus and actively loving the people and creation Jesus loves.”
Reese shared that his hopes for the coming year echo that Cooperative Baptists will continue to be “Baptist at its best” and continue to expand on this good work and tell the stories of the good work that churches are doing in their communities.
“My hope for CBF is that we will exist, resource and, in some cases, be a catalyst for community involvement by our congregations,” Reese said. “Churches across the Fellowship are making incredible amounts of difference in the communities they serve. We must tell their stories while continually learning from their best practices. My hope for CBF is that we will hear more and more stories of congregations impacting their communities and walk alongside others in various stages of mission and community involvement.”
A few of these stories of impact were shared through the presentation of the 2019 Missions Council Awards to Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, Texas, for their work through the Ruth Project, an immigration service center based out of the church, which provides low-cost immigration services; First Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky., for their commitment to holistic transformation in their community and their work to eliminate payday loan debt alongside Together for Hope; and Monte Vista Baptist Church in Maryville, Tenn., for their innovative commitment to encouraging direct engagement in local and global ministry in a variety of ways through their congregation.
Attendees also heard reports on the Encourager Church initiative, updates on CBF field personnel serving across the globe and disaster response efforts in the United States and around the world, CBF Church Benefits, and the CBF Foundation, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and looks toward the future in a renewed collaborative relationship with CBF.
The 2019-2020 Ministry and Missions Budget, totaling $16,321,955, was presented alongside the Nominating Committee report and Governing Board recommendations, which can be viewed here.
The 2019 CBF General Assembly continues Thursday with a worship session that will be live-streamed on the CBF Facebook page beginning at 7:30 p.m. CDT. Find complete coverage of the 2019 CBF General Assembly, including news, photos and videos at www.cbf.net/birmingham2019.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 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. Learn more at www.cbf.net.