October 1, 2021
By Carrie Harris and Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — The Governing Board of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship gathered in-person and virtually at the CBF Global offices this week to hear and receive reports and updates from staff and governance bodies with new CBF Moderator Patricia Wilson presiding.
The Rev. Dr. Emmanuel McCall opened up the public session of the Fall meeting on Friday with a devotional focused on the life stories that shaped his understanding of unity and being one in Christ. He emphasized that his involvement with the Baptist World Alliance encouraged him and provided an awareness of the global Baptist family and the vital learnings one can glean from a sister or brother in Christ from around the world.
“In Christ there is no east or west,” McCall said, before calling on Board members to join together and sing the hymn of the same name.
Executive Coordinator Report
“Holy tenacity is cultivated through community,” said CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley, as he offered a report on implementing and sustaining the work that has come out of what was learned in the Toward Bold Faithfulness process.
“One of the challenges that came out of the Toward Bold Faithfulness process is that we find ways to organize our Fellowship so that the gifts we have could help meet the urgent needs of congregations,” said Baxley.
Baxley provided a report on four pieces of work in progress, including a review, expansion and assessment of the popular Dawnings resource. In partnership with Good Faith Media, the Fellowship is also part of establishing the Jesus Worldview Initiative, which is in process of being converted into an eight-session resource that invites congregations to refocus on the priority of Jesus Christ. There are also initiatives in-progress to address financial strain, which is one of the most urgent needs that came out of the Toward Bold Faithfulness survey.
“While I’ve only shared four of the things that are underway,” said Baxley, “I believe we will begin to see benefits of all of them in the near term.”
He also focused on the deepened collaboration with CBF state and regional leaders that began in earnest over the summer of 2021 through the planning of a hybrid General Assembly experience and Clergy Renewal Retreats.
“It was a beautiful summer of collaboration and renewal and new relationships that will pay dividends long beyond the frustrating summer of the Delta variant,” he said.
Moving beyond the summer months, collaboration is underway around the urgent need of support in ministerial transitions and a commitment to a shared approach and resources.
There is also a look toward future partnerships, focused on investing in initiative-based partnerships with organizations characterized by mutuality—common vision, common values and a way to together address an urgent need. Some of these include the Jesus Worldview Initiative in partnership with Good Faith Media, the planning of a Leading Women conference alongside Baptist Women in Ministry, working with partner theological schools to establish Pathways to Tomorrow, the Ministerial Transitions work with CBF states and regions and the Justo and Catherine González Center in partnership with the Association for Hispanic Theological Education.
“We need to be open to new partnerships—new holy friendships,” Baxley said.
Reports on CBF Missions and Ministries
The Governing Board also heard reports from CBF staff leaders related to global missions, outreach and growth, and development.
CBF Global Missions Coordinator Steven Porter highlighted four open opportunities for career field service. These include a position in the US/Mexico Border Region focused in ministry to immigrants refugees, migrants and asylees; Marche Region of Italy, a position in partnership with the Evangelical Italian Baptist Union devoted to engagement with the immigrant church in Civitanova; Houston, Texas, an area coordinator of ministries and outreach to immigrants, migrants, survivors of human trafficking, refugees and others in the greater Houston area; Indonesia, a position in partnership with the Indonesian Baptist Churches involving supporting community health initiatives among refugee populations in a lesser-developed area of the region.
Kasey Jones, CBF Associate Coordinator of Outreach and Growth, shared about the inclusion work of the team she leads, which includes directing an intentional process to incorporate new churches into CBF life and develop inclusion strategies for local churches to create healthy and hospitable environment. She highlighted a new companion congregations initiative in which congregations covenant to journey with, pray for and help equip new church partners as they participate in CBF life.
Jones also updated the Board on the work of the Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice Initiative, including ethnic inclusion work of the Pan African Koinonia and Familia–CBF’s Latino Network, the development of related biblical resources and the recent launch of an “Aspirational Diversity” survey (www.cbf.net/diversity); efforts to expand the racial justice emphasis for CBF’s advocacy ministry; and the creation of a Racial Equity Fund to further the McCall Initiative’s repair work. Learn more about the work of McCall Initiative at www.cbf.net/mccall-initiative.
Integrated Fund Development
CBF Foundation President and Chief Development Officer Shauw Chin Capps introduced the fundamental change to the Fellowship’s development work and the integrated fund development model being implemented in response to Toward Bold Faithfulness and restructuring the staffing of the organization.
“We are living in a post-denominational, post-Christendom context where allegiance to denominations is dwindling,” said Capps. “Our donors are savvy. And our donors are still looking to make an impact.”
Part of the Fellowship’s response to this changing culture as well as the urgent need of financial strain of churches has led to the integrated fund development model where the CBF Foundation and CBF work hand-in-hand to raise immediate and long-term funds to meet current and future needs. The Fellowship has also added a Congregational Stewardship Officer, Rickey Letson, who serves to provide tangible fund development support for partner churches so they have the tools and capacities to overcome their financial strain and challenges.
Letson also addressed the Board to provide insight that he has gained from relationships formed with church leaders as he begins his work of finding what the specific needs are in churches both experiencing acute financial strain and those in a healthy financial position.
The Fall meeting also includes reports from the CBF Nominating Committee, Missions Council and Ministries Council, and reports from Governing Board work groups including related to finance, bylaws and staff culture.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith into 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.