January 11, 2022
By Jeff Huett
DECATUR ─ Steven Porter, who has served as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Coordinator of Global Missions since 2014, has submitted his resignation effective Feb. 28 citing “a stirring toward writing projects and a more direct ministry engagement than the administrative and travel demands of my present role allow.”
In his resignation letter, Porter wrote, “I also have discerned that Global Missions stands at a crossroads.”
“With the first generation of CBF field personnel retiring after a quarter-century of faithful service, the Fellowship has a unique opportunity to appoint a new generation of field personnel. Such an opportunity demands a leader who can devote his or her full attention and energy to that critical task. I keep returning to Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
Porter will work over the next few weeks in support of a smooth transition and will continue to represent CBF in some pan-Baptist spaces to ensure the continuity of those relationships.
Porter said his service as CBF’s mission leader has afforded him “an unparalleled opportunity to see ‘the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’ through the lives of ordinary people transformed by extraordinary love. I am so grateful for all I have learned about faithfulness, creativity and resilience from our field personnel and their neighbors.”
In a statement, CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley called Porter a gifted theologian deeply committed to Jesus’ mission and unwaveringly committed to the vitality of CBF and CBF Global Missions.
“During his tenure, we have embraced new mission distinctives, developed and implemented a new funding model for CBF Global Missions that has positioned us for a sustainable and thriving future, envisioned new synergies between field personnel and congregations, and begun implementation of new ways of celebrating the impact of ministries around the world,” Baxley said. “At the same time, we have seen an increase in collaboration between Global Missions and other areas of CBF ministry and mission. No doubt Steven will remain a leading voice in Christian mission and Baptist life, not only as a Cooperative Baptist but also as a participant and leader in the global Baptist community.”
As with any transition like this, Baxley said, Porter’s resignation calls CBF to imagine a new season in Global Missions, a new season that begins with deep gratitude for nearly 60 gifted and called field personnel serving around the world and the leadership of the Global Missions administrative team.
“For these reasons, we will make no immediate or hasty decisions as we assess the future leadership of this foundational ministry of CBF,” Baxley said. “The calling we have is too important, and this ministry is too valuable. Rather, during this Epiphany season, we will enter a season of dreaming and discovering.”
In the first phase of the transition, Baxley will take more active leadership of CBF Global Missions in partnership with field personnel, the Global Missions field ministries team and Global Missions administrative team.
As the first step in this transition, Baxley announced that a strategic engagement process will be launched to identify ways to further strengthen CBF Global Missions, discern what kind of leadership gifts and structures are needed now and build an even stronger culture within the Global Missions team. That process will give time to ask important questions, make space for holy and courageous conversation, listening individually and collectively to field personnel, Global Missions staff, Missions Council members, Encourager churches and others.
Baxley said after the initial stages of that assessment, we will know what kind of formal interim leadership is required, if necessary, and that initial engagements will inform the proper timeline for the launch of a search for a new coordinator of Global Missions. Along the way, he will provide updates on progress and the process.
Above all, Baxley said, this is a time to renew and strengthen our commitment to Global Missions.
This commitment was present from CBF’s founding and in recent years, the Toward Bold Faithfulness discovery process clearly revealed that Global Missions is one of the most powerful gifts the Holy Spirit has given the Fellowship as we respond to urgent needs in our communities and around the world.
“The Holy Spirit is indeed inviting us into deeper partnerships with Christ and Christians all around the world so that we may equip one another for a more passionate and dynamic discipleship so that we, by sheer grace, participate in God’s transformation of the world through Jesus Christ,” Baxley said.
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