A Statement from CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley on the 2020 CBF General Assembly
April 2, 2020
By Paul Baxley
Today the Governing Board of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship approved my recommendation that this year’s General Assembly be transitioned from a traditional in-person gathering at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta to a virtual experience.
These are highly unusual times. The ministry of congregations and the pursuit of God’s mission in the world have never been more important than they are right now. But these moments require a faithful agility unlike any we have seen before. I am grateful to CBF’s COVID-19 Work Group, our Governing Board officers and our meeting planners, as we have sought to find just the right solution for General Assembly 2020. During this unprecedented season, supporting the needs of Cooperative Baptists and their congregations has been our primary concern. Our journey to do that has taken time and has led us to the announcement today.
Why are we holding this meeting virtually instead of canceling it outright? The CBF General Assembly is not a religious or political convention. Instead, from our inception, it has been imagined as a gathering for worship, inspiration, education, fellowship and business. While we cannot gather in the ways we have become accustomed this year, it is essential that our Fellowship do what each of your congregations is doing; namely find ways to carry out our ministry with faithful agility in the midst of this pandemic.
We have been inspired by the agility and boldness of our congregations and their leaders, field personnel, state and regional coordinators, chaplains and pastoral counselors, Together for Hope practitioners, theological schools and partner ministries. The need for us to find ways this June to connect with one another in all the ways available to us is sufficiently urgent that we believe we must find a way.
So, we ask that you hold June 24-26 for a series of virtual experiences of worship, inspiration, education, fellowship and business. In the coming weeks we will announce a schedule and provide much more information.
Those already registered for General Assembly will receive instructions about access to this virtual assembly and new registrations will be accepted. For those who had already reserved hotel rooms for General Assembly, you will not need to take any action for the hotel rooms you reserved to be canceled.
While we grieve that we will not have the opportunity to be together in person this year, we are seeking ways to invite many more Cooperative Baptists into our Assembly experience, believing that in every season of challenge there are new opportunities for faithfulness not because of our creativity but rather the resurrecting character of the Triune God. We believe God is calling us to find ways to come together for worship, hear the stories of our larger mission in the world, learn more about the calling we are receiving toward bold faithfulness, and create opportunities for us to support one another and learn from one another in this time of extraordinary need and challenge.
Today, I must publicly acknowledge the staff and leadership of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Atlanta and ask you to remember them and their colleagues in the hospitality industry all over the world. They are exceptional professionals and have been outstanding partners to us over the years. But today they need our prayers because almost all of that hotel staff is furloughed, and they do not know exactly when business will return again. Those outstanding staff and their families, like a growing number of people in our country who are not in professions that are conducive to remote work, are suffering the most devastating economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We look forward to sharing more regarding our plans for a very different General Assembly this year. We promise that we continue to pray for you and give every energy to supporting congregations in this time. And we pray that as we continue to make ourselves available to Christ in faithfulness, that he will be at work among us in ways “abundantly far more than all we could ask or imagine.”
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.