October 27, 2022
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has named the Rev. Miriam Phillips-Stephens as Pan African Koinonia Field Ministry Coordinator, a newly-formed full-time position created to assist the Pan African Koinonia in fulfilling its purpose to cultivate an increased presence of Black individuals and churches throughout CBF life.
The Pan African Koinonia (formerly the African American Network) are members of CBF from the African diaspora, including African Americans, Caribbean, Africans and more. This ministry is committed to providing support for the Pan African community and enhancing the life of the wider CBF network through creating courageous spaces that inspire genuine Christian fellowship, encourage racial and cultural understanding, and cultivate beloved community.
A native of Philadelphia, Penn., Miriam comes to CBF from Campbell University Divinity School, where she served as Director of Student Services. She also is Assistant to the Pastor and Minister of Christian Education at Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., where she has served since 1992. There she represents being the fourth generation of preachers in her family.
Miriam earned a Master of Divinity at Campbell University Divinity School and is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry degree there. She is a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society, the national honor society for religious studies and theology.
Rev. Phillips-Stephens has preached on three continents and served as a preacher, teacher and lecturer for several denominations and conferences. From 2015-2017, she served as interim pastor for the St. Mark AME Church in Smithfield, North Carolina. She is married to the Rev. Dr. Reginald Van Stephens, pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.
In this new role, Miriam will focus on recruiting and nurturing Pan African Koinonia leaders, promoting the vision and goals of PAK, serving as pastor to PAK pastors, creating engagement opportunities and mentor young adults to serve as future Baptist leaders through the PAK subgroup, Young Black and Baptist (YBB), and engaging in ecumenical relationship-building. She will also assist with the work of CBF’s Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative.
Kasey Jones, CBF Associate Coordinator of Outreach and Growth, expressed her excitement to have Miriam Phillips-Stephens join CBF’s Outreach and Growth team in this new full-time role providing leadership to the Pan African Koinonia.
“Miriam brings pastoral experience, including providing leadership to paid and unpaid staff associates, as well as a lengthy history of working in historically black churches,” Jones said. Miriam’s expertise in spiritual formation and significant experience working with seminarians at a CBF partner school has also equipped her to take the Pan African Koinonia to the next level.”
CBF Executive Coordinator said Miriam’s experiences in congregations and institutions “uniquely equip her” for leadership of the Pan African Koinonia.
“Since the Pan African Koinonia was founded in 2019, we have dreamed of being able to have a full-time member of our staff who could focus attention on increasing the number of Black congregations and individuals in the life of our Fellowship,” Baxley said. “Miriam’s experience in congregations and institutions uniquely equip her for this critical leadership role, and I’ve been so grateful for the impact she has already had as a member of our Outreach and Growth Team. I believe more strongly than ever that God is calling our Fellowship to be more racially and ethnically diverse, because in the process we gain new teachers, friends and companions along the journey. Black Baptist congregations have powerful lessons to teach all of us; being in closer community with them will equip us for an even bolder kind of faithfulness in our communities and around the world.”
Miriam also shared her excitement for this new ministry journey with CBF.
“I am delighted to join the staff of CBF and to partner alongside the Outreach and Growth team in the ministry of making the Kingdom of God palpable to all whom we reach,” she said. “My hope is that my ministry will not only embrace my Pan-African sisters and brothers, but will extend into all regions where the word and work of God is calling.”
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.