March 11, 2020
By Jeff Huett
**Updated March 13**
All Short-Term Mission Teams Suspended Through April 30
As the COVID-19 pandemic places more and more communities and individuals at risk, CBF seeks to minimize the threat we pose to the communities in which our Global Missions field personnel serve as well as their ministry partners and volunteers. Out of an abundance of caution, CBF is suspending all short-term mission teams, whether international or domestic, through April 30, 2020. Prior to announcing this decision, CBF Global Missions field personnel communicated directly with the leadership of the short-term mission teams with travel already scheduled. CBF Global Missions will make a determination on the viability of teams scheduled beyond that timeframe at a later date. Further, we advise any teams who have not already finalized travel reservations to delay any purchases until closer to the date of travel when additional data can inform decisions.
DECATUR, Ga.— In response to the spread of Coronavirus, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has formed a COVID-19 Work Group to streamline the flow of updated information across the organization, to aid in decision-making and help facilitate timely communications across CBF staff and field personnel, partner congregations and all Cooperative Baptists.
CBF also announced today that it has launched a site for quick access to COVID-19-related information, including relevant links, updates on CBF events and a CBF-developed resource for congregations to help them prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in their congregations.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley said that CBF leaders have been monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak for months and they are working to monitor its impact and make informed decisions during this uncertain time.
“CBF staff members have been monitoring the rapidly evolving spread of COVID-19 for months because we have field personnel serving in Asia and all across the world,” Baxley said. “I am deeply indebted to Steven Porter, Sam Harrell, Eddy Ruble and others in our Global Missions leadership for their extraordinary work in monitoring the situation, engaging field personnel and responding to the challenges that have emerged.”
“As the virus continues to spread, we are creating a larger work group within CBF leadership to make sure that we monitor the impact of the virus, discover best practices in response, make the most informed decisions about how to carry out our witness to Christ in the midst of this uncertain time and have consistency across our mission and ministry endeavors in the ways we respond.
“Because CBF exists for congregations, we are also seeking to learn from congregations regarding their response to the virus and we will provide resources for congregations on the CBF website, along with updates on how we are adjusting plans for major events, mission participation and other ministries in light of the impacts of COVID-19. It’s important that we seek guidance from the triune God to respond faithfully during these uncertain times.”
CBF General Assembly
Plans continue for General Assembly June 22-27 in Atlanta. Registration is open, and Cooperative Baptists are encouraged to be a part of it.
Baxley said CBF leadership is keeping the Coronavirus in mind as it plans General Assembly.
“The spread of COVID-19 is an evolving situation. We will work actively in our staff, with our officers and with our meeting planners to make sure that we prepare for the meeting in ways that maximize the health of all who participate, and we will communicate actively about measures we put in place,” Baxley said. “Should conditions require a change in plans, we will communicate that as soon as we can.”
CBF Field Personnel
The safety of CBF’s 70 field personnel in the U.S. and around the world is a top priority. Last month, CBF International Disaster Response Coordinator Eddy Ruble sent a memo to all CBF field personnel advising them to take precautionary measures to protect themselves, volunteers, partners and the communities they serve from Coronavirus, which included limiting nonessential travel.
The spread of COVID-19 has affected CBF’s Global Missions work. CBF has evacuated a field personnel family from China, and in conversation with its Japanese Baptist partners, a CBF field personnel family presently in the United States has delayed its return to the region. Also, CBF field personnel in Asia have canceled their annual meeting planned for March in Indonesia, and CBF field personnel that are a part of the Europe team have shifted their meeting online.
Please visit www.cbf.net/covid-19 for the latest CBF statements/news reports, CBF program and event updates, and information links and resources for congregations.
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.