The Gathering CBFNC Magazine - Spring 2021

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of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina Spring 2021

Vol. 26 Issue 1

The Resiliency

of Our Fellowship

The Gathering is a seasonal publication of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina. 2640 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.


On the Cover: Knollwood Baptist staff gathered to film worship together in the Sanctuary.


Larry Hovis

Executive Coordinator

Jamie Rorrer

The Gathering Editor Director of Communications

Amy Cook

The Gathering Graphic Designer Communications Specialist

4 Stamina to Run the Race 6 2021 Annual Gathering 7 Recultivating a Cooperative Relationship 8 Resilience in Wandering

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3 Never, Ever Give Up



10 The Power of the Pivot


13 Pandemic Impact on Pastoral Transitions Trends



14 A Pandemic Call Story

OUR STORY OF FAITH The History of Wake Forest Baptist Church 1835–2015 Wake Forest Baptist Church was established in 1865 and is one of the most prominent Baptist congregations in North Carolina. Beginning with a prayer meeting among students seeking revival, its location on the campus of Wake Forest College gave the church a distinction and importance that forever tied to its academic neighbor. When the college moved to Winston-Salem in the middle of the twentieth century, the establishment of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on the old campus brought new opportunities to the church. You will enjoy this walk through the history of Wake Forest Baptist Church. Published by Mercer University Press

Wake Forest Baptist Church 919.556.5141

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Order online: Shipping via USPS is available or pick up in church office.

Never, Ever

Give Up

by Larry Hovis CBFNC Executive Coordinator

n the Spring of 1983, I was a junior at N.C. State. At that time, our men’s basketball team, under the leadership of legendary coach Jim Valvano, made an improbable run to the NCAA championship. They were nicknamed the “Cardiac Pack” because of their uncanny ability, over and over again, to snatch victory out of what seemed like sure defeat. Valvano’s players said that their coach’s mantra, which he repeated time and time again, was “never, ever give up.”

will someday be able to gather in our sanctuaries without masks. We will be able to sing again. We will be able to hug one another. But life will not be the same. We will meet together again, but not everyone will come back, certainly not every Sunday. Zoom meetings will not go away. We will need to learn when it is vital that we gather, how to make the most of the time when we are together, when we are better off meeting virtually, and when we need to offer a hybrid approach. We have learned much throughout these 12 months, but we still have much more to learn. That will be the true test of our resilience.

Practicing Resilience

Legacy Planning

Valvano’s 1983 championship team exhibited what is often described as “resilience.” Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty; toughness.” Throughout these twelve months of the coronavirus pandemic, I have seen examples of resilience all around our fellowship: • I have seen resilience in pastors and church leaders who have adapted their ministries to a situation that they had never encountered before.

Before the pandemic, experts predicted that the next decade will see the closing of as many as one-quarter of American churches. Like the most vulnerable members of our society who suffered the most over this past year, these churches have suffered the most from COVID-19. Resilience, for these churches, will mean taking an honest, hard look at their viability and sustainability in their current form. Many churches, as an act of faith, will need to do “end of life” planning. Some of these churches will need to determine how best to leave a legacy for the good of the Gospel in the future. CBFNC is working to develop resources to assist churches in this discernment.


• I have seen resilience in chaplains in hospitals, prisons and the military, as they ministered to the sick, the dying, their caregivers and front-line workers, in extremely difficult circumstances. • I have seen resilience in campus ministers and missionaries who have continued their work in places most of us can’t go. They have found new and creative ways to reach people with a God whose love will not let them go. • I have seen resilience in my CBFNC staff colleagues, who pivoted early and often to deliver our ministries in new and creative ways to churches, their leaders, our state and world.

Developing a New Normal Now that we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, with a vaccine being offered to increasing numbers of our population, we are all yearning to return to normal. But returning to the “good old days” before the pandemic is not a realistic path forward. As Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again,” and that includes our former way of life. For churches, like the rest of society, life will never be the same. Yes, we

Today, I fight a different battle... I will never ever quit. And if cancer gets me then I’ll just try my best to go to heaven and I’ll try my best to be the best coach they’ve ever seen up there. –Jim Valvano

“Struck Down But Not Destroyed” To engage in such a process is not to admit defeat, but to practice profound faith in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, who snatched victory from defeat and turned the cross from a symbol of death into a symbol of life. See “Never, Ever Give Up” on page 4. Spring 2021

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Never, Ever Give Up, continued from page 3. As Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed … For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Cor. 4:8, 11).

A Different Kind of Victory Just 10 years after he won the national championship, Jim Valvano died after a year-long battle with cancer. A few weeks before he died, Valvano was honored on national television, and to that vast viewing audience, he said this: Today, I fight a different battle. You see, I have trouble walking and I have trouble standing for a long period of time. Cancer has taken away a lot of my physical

abilities. Cancer is attacking and destroying my body. But what cancer cannot touch is my mind, my heart and my soul. I have faith in God and hope that things might get better for me. But even if they don’t I promise you this. I will never ever give up. I will never ever quit. And if cancer gets me then I’ll just try my best to go to heaven and I’ll try my best to be the best coach they’ve ever seen up there.

I believe in our fellowship—our leaders, our churches, and our ministries. We are a resilient, adaptive, tough bunch. Collectively, we have a bright future. None of us will live forever but we will be faithful to God’s call during our time on earth and we will be faithful as we plan—individually and congregationally—how best to leave a legacy for the future.

Stamina to Run the Race


ome things in life last much longer than we originally anticipated. Be it standing in line waiting our turn at the grocery store, passing an entrance exam, learning to play a musical instrument or now waiting for a vaccination and the embrace of friends. Life has its own timetable. In March of 2020, I thought COVID-19 was a sprint we would run through like previous virus scares, never imagining—almost a year later—we would be living with worsening pandemic conditions. The paradigm we have held of our world has been turned upside down as we spend our days washing, masking and distancing. Never since 1918 have we had to navigate a pandemic. The entire fabric of our physical, emotional and social existence is disrupted and replaced by virtual connections which have been lifesavers lest we become completely isolated. And this has been especially true as our congregational community has been redefined and continues to adapt to the marathon we are living. Our ability to adapt to and bounce back from challenging situations is described as resilience. Some people inherently have stronger resilience muscles than others; but resilience is a capacity one must intentionally develop. Investing in your resilience bank account (sleep, good nutrition, exercise, mediation, gratitude, service to others) is an individual endeavor but is best nurtured in community. The healthy congregation is a resilience petri dish where hope is cultured to overcome fear while facing the pain and discomfort of current reality. This kind of 4 | The Gathering

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community overcomes the real fatigue associated with COVID-19 and the impact of long-term stress. This stamina gives us by Steve Scoggin the needed breath to run a race which our bodies, minds and spirits were not built to run. We are discovering anew what it means to run with perseverance the race that has been set before us, fixing our eyes on what is the source of our strength.

Social distance does not mean social isolation. Living in community has never been tied to place but instead is formed out of connection. Community is the connectional space we create that nourishes us physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually. It is these connections formed in congregational life that sustain us even when we are not “together.” The communion of the saints is that living, breathing body that holds us up when we at times feel we cannot hold ourselves. It is this body whose very memory helps us adapt to the pain and relentless challenges of life, in this case a pandemic. In May 2020 the Census Bureau released statistics that one–third of all Americans were displaying symptoms of anxiety, depression or both. Our individual “surge capacity,” those mental and physical adaptive capacities that are wired into our brains to manage acute crises and natural disasters, are not working. Why? Because a pandemic See “Stamina to Run the Race” on next page.

Stamina to Run the Race,

crisis of this proportion. The resilience muscles of healthy communities exercise the following three things: continued from page 4. First, bounded optimism is a term used to describe communities that embody inspiration, hope and optiis not a natural disaster with a clear pre-warning, impact mism. This optimism helps people make meaning out of and recovery phase like in a hurricane or tornado. We know their circumstances by creating an understanding of what’s from the disaster literature that after the impact of a natuhappening, and what responses are most helpful. Meaning ral disaster, a predictable period of disillusionment follows builds confidence, efficacy and endurance and can serve as well past the anniversary. People experience a period of an analgesic if the outcome takes longer than expected. grief, depression, anxiety, and in some cases PTSD as the Second, being in community implies we listen and are reality of what has happened has room to be expepaying attention to our fellow members tuned to rienced and processed. Eventually, 18 to 24 the wear and tear of fatigue and stress that months later, acceptance and full recovery accompanies hard times. This kind of regular Faith communities become possible. attention realized most recently through The pandemic we are living through optimally functioning are virtual engagement is an example of the had no pre-warning, impact and end, as front–line essential workers. health ministry of the church. Living in the impact is still escalating. Even with community is living within a feedback We help each other with the hope of vaccination, we are not sure system on the physical, emotional and the mental and spiritual when we will be in the recovery phase. spiritual health of the membership and pain and suffering Thus, our minds and bodies have no evoconnection to referrals in the case of lutionary frame of reference for managing inherent in living. needed help. this. This requires a different way of coping And last, community is a place of care, conthan we normally employ when stress is high nection and well-being that fosters the critical and life is hard. Elevated stress hormones like coringredients of self-care. Our congregations embody love tisol impact our cognitions, moods and physical organs as the pandemic keeps on giving nine months later. Prolonged of self and neighbor, gratitude and forgiveness. They can stress can unglue us so that we feel like Humpty Dumpty enlarge our sense of purpose and meaning-making beyond our present circumstances. Good theology and healthy who is fragmented, unable to be put back together again. community is the incubator for resilience. Faith communities optimally functioning are front-line The village we call our religious essential workers. We help each other with the mental and community is where we find bonds spiritual pain and suffering inherent in living. The resilience of love, safety, trust and hope. fostered by being in fellowship can spread like a positive Our congregations provide the adhesive to keep us together virus beyond its cells and “infect” entire communities who enough to weather the crises of life during a pandemic. The hunger for hope and a path to live within and beyond our depression and anxiety we feel are normal responses to current grief and disillusionment. prolonged stress precipitated by the real and ambiguous losses. Congregations and the larger systems that support Steve Scoggin is the interim chair, Department of Psychiatry and them have embedded in their DNA the antidote to the dis- Behavioral Medicine and associate vice president of Behavioral Health illusionment that is a predictable outcome following the at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

CBFNC Youth September 24–26, 2021

North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell



More Than ENOUGH

CBFNC Annual Gathering


MARCH 18–19, 2021 | VIRTUAL


A highlight of every Annual Gathering is the opportunity to hear from the best of the CBF world in a large variety of workshops. Complete descriptions may be found in the Annual Gathering section at

Thursday Workshops n

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CBB – Reimagining Financial Wellness: Lessons from the New Normal Storytelling as Digital Marketing Strategy for Churches The Sun Do Move! Interpreting the Bible in Competing Cultural Contexts The Four Senses of Scripture: Retrieving an Ancient Model of Theological Interpretation Increasing Congregational Health Encourager Church: What, Who, Why and How? Moving the Equator: The Families of the Earth and the Mission of the Church Enoughness Pastoral Leadership in Chaotic Times: A Theological Approach / Liderazgo Pastoral en tiempos Caóticos: Un acercamiento teológico

Register at

“. . .you will always have more than enough. . .” – 2 Cor. 9:8

Friday Workshops n n


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Ministerial Transitions: Challenges and Opportunities Lead with Purpose: Vocation Embodied in Beloved Communities What is the Gospel? Second Thoughts from the Fourth Quarter Jesus’ Paradigmatic Sermon: Luke 4 Faith at Home Welcome House Community Network The Unique Ministry of Podcasting Emotional intelligence: A fundamental competence for pastoral care / Inteligencia Emocional: Competencia fundamental para el Cuidado Pastoral

THURSDAY, MARCH 18 Virtual Coffee and Meet-Up 9:00 a.m. Opening Plenary

with Emily Hull-McGee, Timothy Peoples & Kia Walker

9:30 a.m.

Break 10:30 a.m.

MUSIC WORSHIP LEADER Kia Walker is a vocalist, instrumentalist, songwriter and recording artist. She specializes in jazz, classical and contemporary vocal techniques along with piano, guitar, and violin. Kia has a Master of Divinity (with church music) from Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, NC.

Workshop Session #1 10:45 a.m. Closing Plenary with Kia Walker

11:45 a.m.

FRIDAY, MARCH 19 Virtual Coffee and Meet-Up 9:00 a.m.

WORSHIP LEADER Dr. Jerusha Matsen Neal is the Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School. Her scholarly work examines the action of the Spirit on the performative borders of body and culture. Her research interests focus on post-colonial preaching, preaching and gender, and the implications of Mariology for a Spirit-dependent homiletic. 6 | The Gathering

Spring 2021

Annual Business Meeting 9:30 a.m.

Workshop Session #2 10:15 a.m.


11:15 a.m.

Closing Worship

with Jerusha Matsen Neal & Kia Walker 11:25 a.m.


ast summer, as devastating storms, racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic surged in our state and world, a renewed relationship was being forged between CBF North Carolina (CBFNC) and the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (GBSCNC). Rev. Dr. Tony Barr, executive secretary-treasurer, was the newly appointed leader of the GBSCNC in Raleigh. His tenure began with responding to the racial injustice and outrage from the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis,

as well as providing disaster relief in Bertie County from a tornado caused by Hurricane Isaias. His first few months with GBSCNC had been arduous to say the least. Having had a relationship with his predecessor, Larry Hovis, CBFNC executive By Jamie Rorrer coordinator, emailed Tony shortly after he CBFNC Director of Communications arrived, expressing a desire to continue the relationship. “That opened up a door,” said Tony. “I didn’t respond immediately because we were in the midst of the George Floyd situation and figuring out our convention’s response.” But Larry persisted and thanks to their mutual friend, Rev. Paul Anderson, pastor of The Fountain of Raleigh, the two Baptist leaders connected and became fast friends. They made a commitment to be intentional about meeting with each other monthly as well as looking for ways to bring the two organizations together in relational ways. During one of their recent meetings, Tony and Larry each shared their thoughts on this new/ renewed relationship between their respective organizations.

Recultivating a Cooperative Relationship Why did you decide to forge a new relationship, both personally and between CBFNC and GBSCNC? Tony: When we finally connected on Zoom, the Lord really blessed our time together. We felt God was definitely in this and He wanted to use us to do works together to glorify Him as well as help our organizations. Shortly after that, GBSCNC was working to help folks in Bertie County from the tornado. Larry and CBFNC responded with a generous gift to assist our work there. GBSCNC was also having conversations about what to do with the old parsonages at some of our churches. Larry shared about the Welcome House immigrant and refugee ministry model and how CBFNC was planning to expand it. That really inspired my heart! Larry: With the help of Paul Anderson, CBFNC had been working to involve the GBSCNC in our Annual Gathering last year, which was cancelled due to COVID. When I found out Tony was coming on board, I saw it as a great opportunity to recultivate an extremely important relationship for us. Disaster relief is important work for CBFNC and we typically partner with churches in the affected regions to help. One of CBFNC’s core values is partnership. If we see other organizations that share our values and are doing work that we can’t do, then we’re more than happy to partner with them. When we saw that work happening by Tony’s folks in Bertie County, it was a no-brainer for us to support them.

Additionally, the GBSCNC supported our work with a generous gift to the Welcome Ride. Tony came out to personally support us at Crabtree Valley in Raleigh for the big finish and to be part of the Larry Hovis and Tony Barr at the culmination of that effort. Welcome Ride finale last fall. What do you hope this collaboration will accomplish? Larry: There’s so much we can do to help one another. Each of our organizations has areas where, individually, we are strong. But there are points of commonality that would strengthen both organizations, congregations and ultimately, the Kingdom. The General Baptists are so good at community missions, like their food box program. I think our churches could learn from that and engage with General Baptist churches on that. CBFNC is strong in our support of theological education and scholarships. I would love to see that grow by supporting GBSCNC students and pastors. I can also see us partnering on continuing education for our clergy, such as jointly hosting speakers and conferences. Our folks are starting to have more of a heart for advocacy and social justice. That’s always been a strength of the Black church, and we want to learn from and support those efforts better. See “Recultivating. . .” on page 15.

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Resilience in


Connecting Across the World by Carson and Laura Foushee CBF Field Personnel Serving with the Japan Baptist Commission in Tokyo

Short stories and images from churches and individuals across our fellowship about the creative solutions they found to connect and continue ministry in a year that left many feeling like the church was in exile or wandering in the desert. While a global pandemic may have forced changes to schedules and practices, many have found that the Holy Spirit led to new ways of doing things that just might be the way forward.

Reimagined Deacon Ordination by Richard D. Seagle Senior Pastor, First, New Bern

FOR EIGHT FRIDAY EVENINGS OVER THE SUMMER, we got to know and see the faces of 15 preschoolers in tiny Zoom boxes as they practiced English through vocabulary, Bible verses and show and tell. Zoom English lessons have never been a part of our Student.Go experiences in the past, but in 2020 it became a venue for our intern to build relationships with preschool families at our church in Tokyo. While we could not be physically present in Japan due to travel restrictions, the Zoom lessons were a small way to stay connected to our community in Tokyo. Like many ministers and churches, screens became a way to make up for physical presence. Our time was spent studying Japanese with an online tutor from the Japan Center at N.C. State and preaching by video for Japanese churches in Tokyo and Raleigh. But then there were opportunities that were only possible because we were in North Carolina and not Japan. Carson was asked to lead a funeral in English for the family of a member of the Japanese Baptist Church of Raleigh, alongside her pastor, a friend of ours since we moved to Tokyo in 2017. When we moved to an apartment owned by FBC Greensboro in the fall, a mutual acquaintance asked us to connect with a Japanese couple living in Greensboro who had expressed feelings of loneliness, particularly due to the pandemic. We had a lovely picnic lunch and got to connect them with the same pastor friend who ministers to small communities of Japanese across the state. 2020 saw the loss of the way all of us normally do ministry, but it may have also provided opportunities that we would not have engaged otherwise; a sign that God is always at work in our world. 8 | The Gathering

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FIRST BAPTIST OF NEW BERN RECENTLY ELECTED SIX NEW DEACONS. Two individuals from this group had not previously served and needed to be ordained. Because of COVID-19 precautions, we were unable to do our customary deacon ordination service that includes the congregation laying on of hands. However, our congregation was given the opportunity to participate in a special time of blessing. The service began by inviting immediate family members of those being ordained to come forward, lay hands on their loved ones and offer a prayer on behalf of themselves and the congregation. The remainder of the congregation then processed forward offering silent prayers before each candidate and then dropping a note in a basket located six feet away in front of the candidate. Individuals were alerted to this opportunity and given the opportunity to prepare a note at home. We also provided blank index cards and pens on the morning of the ordination for people to write notes at church. The notes became a valuable reminder of their calling for each new deacon. Many in the congregation have asked that we continue to offer similar opportunities for writing notes during future ordinations.

Wherever the Spirit Leads by Randy C. Clipp Senior Pastor, First, Clayton

ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING FBC CLAYTON was in deciding how to receive new believers, disciple them and baptize them during a pandemic. When our in-person Easter services were cancelled, so were the baptisms of nine adults and children. They had been meeting together weekly in small groups in preparation for their big day, which then got cancelled indefinitely. New member classes cautiously resumed with a combination of socially distanced, small group Sunday evening classes and Zoom meetings with children from their homes. However, our church would remain closed for in-person worship until November. How in the world could we baptize these candidates in a way that would be safe but also allow their families and the wider community of faith to participate? While we pondered what to do, the Holy Spirit continued to work in the midst of COVID. A young adult couple who had previously been attending our church accepted Christ during a socially distanced meeting with me in my office. A 19 year-old who had been worshiping with us online also messaged me through Facebook and wanted to talk about Christ and church membership. I will never

forget how she prayed to receive Christ as we met at opposite ends of a long conference room table. We were both wearing masks, sniffling through the tears that stained our masks as we rejoiced to God. Now, we had three more who needed to be introduced to the wider congregation, affirmed, discipled and then, baptized. But how could we do that in a meaningful way when all our indoor worship gatherings were virtual? At the July Zoom Business Meeting, I introduced the three new baptismal candidates to the virtual meeting participants. What a time of celebration! There was no walking the aisle, no handshakes and no hugging that night. But these new members were truly welcomed. With smiles, waves and thumbs up signs, the church family expressed their joy. Finally, some good news to celebrate amidst a second coronavirus wave. They were unanimously approved in the virtual gathering that night for membership by baptism. As August approached, a safe outdoor baptismal venue was finally secured for all the new members to be baptized. A family at our church graciously offered to provide their backyard swimming pool and lawn, limited to the candidates and their families. To keep the numbers safe, we scheduled two different services a week apart. Each candidate wore their white baptismal robe and I baptized them while wearing a face shield. Family members of the candidates, deacons and church staff attended the long-awaited celebrations. We sang hymns and clapped together. Video footage from the baptisms was included in the following Sunday’s livestream worship service so that the entire church family could enjoy it as well. Despite the paralysis of a pandemic, God’s Spirit shatters our darkness with rays of hope. For FBC Clayton the Spirit stirred us to take church outside our sanctuary walls. We ventured to bring the worship of God and welcoming of new believers onto wider, virtual platforms. And we rediscovered the ancient practice of outdoor baptism.

BEYOND THE CHURCH WALLS at Knollwood, Winston-Salem

Outdoor worship service in The Memorial Garden.

Food drive in the KBC parking lot benefiting Crisis Control Ministry in Winston-Salem.

Intergenerational music circles in The Memorial Garden.

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POWER of the


Campus Ministers & Students Share Some Lessons Learned

Mother Teresa once said, “We have done so much for so long with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” David Stone Western NC-Area Campus Minister

What that phrase has meant to Baptist campus ministers over the past few decades was that you have to figure things out and do so quickly with the ever-changing life and people on college campuses. Such a pivot was needed in March of 2020 when students from UNC-Asheville, Western Carolina and Appalachian State were on their spring break mission trip. It was mid-week and we were serving at Metanoia in North Charleston, South Carolina. Students started getting unusual texts and email messages from their campuses: “Don’t return to campus.” “Your Spring Break is extended for another week.” “Due to COVID we are closing campus and asking you not to return to get your stuff from the residence hall until we make an appointment with you.” I have experienced many unexpected twists and turns on spring break mission trips for the past 30 years, but the spring of 2020 threw us a curveball few could have anticipated. College students are a highly social group and much of what we do in campus ministry—whether it is worship, fellowship, missions or discipleship—is greatly interactive. Pivoting our CBF campus ministry groups across North Carolina to adapt to the changes in the world was a huge experiment in maintaining connections and modifying worship. To finish out the spring 2020 semester, in Western North Carolina, we adopted a larger scale worship offering. Groups were not on campus to meet. Using Zoom, we were able to combine our individual weekly meetings on each campus into one large group virtual worship service. 10 | The Gathering

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Students from Appalachian State, Mars Hill, Western Carolina, and UNC-Asheville really stepped up to the plate, forming a planning team that coordinated student-led, pre-recorded music and scripture readings with slide show presentations. We also used small breakout groups each week to check in with each other and discuss questions related to the Bible lesson. All this allowed us to finish the semester strong and maintain our connections through the end of a very abnormal school year. Maintaining is one thing, but growing is another. Our campus ministry staff knew that to reach new students in the fall of 2020, we could not rely on only doing virtual meetings. New freshmen and transfer students were probably not going to join a group of people they had never met for virtual worship. Our committed students were already burned out on virtual classes. Thus, we pivoted again. We focused on meeting in-person safely, utilizing masks and spreading out for social distance. It was precarious, but it worked. Once again, students rose to the occasion to make things happen. Our groups worshipped outside or ate outside when possible. We kept people spaced apart but it was still better than looking at a screen. And the good news is that new students joined, felt connected and became committed to our community of faith. As campus ministers continue pivoting into the spring 2021 semester, we ask for your prayers as we seek new and productive ways to reach college students in this most uncertain time.

I’ve found that trying to navigate through schoolwork and keep up with community friendships in the midst of a pandemic can be stressful and depressing. It’s difficult to keep in touch with friends when you can’t go to restaurants, librarMackenzie Smith ies or in-person classes. It’s taken CBSF UNC, Chapel Hill Student this pandemic for me to realize how much I took advantage of giving hugs, sharing meals and just sitting to talk with a friend within six feet. However, our weekly CBSF meetings allowed me a safe escape from the isolation, and an opportunity to feel somewhat normal again for an hour. We’ve had some meetings over Zoom and some in-person, socially distanced in a parking lot with masks, along with a one-couch-per-person Christmas party. These meetings have been incredibly therapeutic, particularly for me as an extrovert who thrives in big groups.

Our Zoom meetings, sharing fun high and lows and engaging in deeper discussions of what Heaven and God look like for example, were a nice change after a whole day of serious online classes. It was really nice to share insight with friends instead of worrying about my assignments. Getting to meet in-person some, having conversational hangout time while making blankets for the Ronald McDonald House and playing Among Us, was for me a glimpse of the return to normalcy I really needed. At CBSF, I was reunited with my community. Most importantly, through our deeper conversations about the controversial parts of scripture and faith, I was able to maintain my connection with God, which has certainly been difficult when you can’t attend church safely. CBSF allowed me to continue going to church, experience all of the benefits of a kind and accepting church community, and feel safe.

When I first learned we were going to be sent off campus in March of 2020, I was extremely worried about what this meant for the Cooperative Baptist Student Fellowship group here at NC State. CBSF is my home away from home in Raleigh. The environment resembles my youth group Karis Haigler CBSF Raleigh, from the church I grew up in. NC State Student Though I was worried, right away we were told about how we can utilize Zoom for meetings. Throughout the stress of moving back home, having all classes online and balancing my class work with family needs, CBSF continued to be that meeting each week that allowed me to breathe from everyday stress. While our meetings looked different, we were still able to sit down, talk about our week and listen to the word of God.

When the fall semester came, all classes were set in-person. Therefore, we decided since everyone was back on campus, our CBSF group would try to find a way to safely meet in-person. This decision was primarily made because many of us had not seen each other in-person since March, other than on a computer screen. We met outside in the parking lot, keeping a safe distance from one another and wearing masks. I was extremely thrilled that I was able to see my peers in-person rather than through a screen. We would discuss relevant topics and how they relate to bible verses. I am very thankful for CBSF and how it has continued to support me and my peers throughout this stressful time.

See “The Power of the Pivot” on page 12.

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The Power of the Pivot, continued from page 11.

Sierra Browning CBSF, Wake Forest University Student

The past two and a half years are experiences I would not trade for anything. I have made the closest friends, the sweetest roommates, and everlasting memories. While this past year has not been what any of us expected, we have tried to make the most of what we have been given. For starters, our weekly Horizons meetings moved online, creating an opportunity to bring in speakers which

This last year in campus ministry has been unprecedented, to say the least. We had to learn how to fellowship together in the midst of a pandemic that was Liz Britt altering the way we did everything. Our Triangle-Area campuses ultimately decided to do some Campus Minister hybrid version of both in-person and virtual meetings. We would often meet in the church parking lot, adhering to social distancing and wearing masks. We didn’t worry about what we would talk about that week, just that we were able to see each other’s faces, even with the masks on! CBSF Raleigh and CBSF UNC students used their creative sides when it came to what our meetings looked like and what other activities we could safely do together. We would often meet in a church parking lot with plenty of social distancing and wearing our masks. Meetings were focused on checking in on each other and connecting during such a time of upheaval. One of our biggest accomplishments for CBSF Raleigh group was participating in the CBFNC Welcome Ride by conducting a virtual ride to support the work of the Welcome House Community Network. In the weeks leading up to CBFNC Executive Coordinator Larry Hovis’ ride, students set a collective goal to cover 200 miles through various activities. Students teamed up with their friends, families and even pets to walk or run as many miles as they could while praying for the work of the Welcome House Community Network. 12 | The Gathering

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would have otherwise been inhibited by distance. In place of dinner on Tuesday nights, we have been attempting to play games over Zoom to get to know each other better. Whether it’s Name That Tune, Trivia, This or That, or Mad Libs, we have enjoyed getting to know each other better and receiving a break from the daily grind of classwork.

Students and loved ones accomplished 255.3 miles! It was inspiring to see these young adults use their passion for service in one of the most unique ways that I have ever seen! Our CBSF UNC group began meeting virtually twice a month. Throughout the semester we journeyed through misconceptions of scripture and talked about how we grew up learning things versus now. Zoom meetings and classes can be draining, but UNC students made sure to log on every other Wednesday so that we could continue our conversations. The UNC group also made a push for service even though we couldn’t go physically serve somewhere. They found a service project that could be done remotely and helped make fleece tie blankets for the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill. It turned into a fun fellowship experience of making tie blankets in a parking lot. Our campus groups may have looked different in this last year, but their purpose and importance did not waver. We laughed, voiced our struggles and cared for one another, all while staying six feet apart and masked. Students are having to endure the unimaginable and are simply burnt out. I am proud of the hard work these students put into the past school year and I am happy that CBSF continues to be a part of their lives and mine.

Pandemic Impact on Pastoral Transitions



he COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted almost every area of congregational life over the past year. This also includes the vocational path of our minisby Seth Hix ters. It has been well documented in a multitude of articles CBFNC Associate One of Coordinator and media that as the pandemic hit its stride, our congregathe greatest gifts tional ministers were overworked, learning new skills and of serving on a search ministering in ways that they had never imagined. Many team is the deep bond and spiritual ministers have shared with me that this is the most difficult growth that often emerges during the search time of their ministerial careers. process. Inevitably search teams must have The accompanying anxiety was only amplified for pas- some difficult conversations about highly personal theologtors and churches who were in the midst of a transition. ical matters. Yet, these are no longer behind closed doors When the pandemic hit, we had pastors in North Carolina in the seclusion of a quiet church library, but maybe with a who were still settling in to a new place of service, while laptop open at the kitchen table. Confidentiality and trust others had to adjust their long-planned retirements in light become much more difficult to foster as you meet in your of our new realities. own home. For the first few months of the pandemic, most pastor In this strange, COVID world, many of our new or transisearch committees paused their work. Search committee tioning pastors found that they were unable to utilize some handbooks did not include a chapter on “finding your pas- of their best skills. A new pastor who cannot sit with church tor in the midst of a pandemic!” Committees, like pastors, members around dinner tables, at coffee shops or attend were forced to think creatively. I have personally met with concerts or sporting events finds it increasingly difficult search committees in a variety of ways during this time rang- to connect with a new church family. Drive-thru welcome ing from Zoom meetings to outdoor meetings, events and heavily edited pre-recorded introductions do sometimes dodging thunderstorms, and not offer the same level of warmth as shaking hands spaced out and masked in fellowship in a reception line and looking at church members halls or unheated church gyms. face-to-face. One of the For most churches, the Even our young, digitally-astute divinity days of loading up the search greatest gifts students have also faced an immense chalteam in the church van and lenge navigating the already murky waters of serving on a search driving all across the southof finding your first ministry position. east to hear sermons from They are unable to interview in-person team is the deep bond potential pastors were and are forced to network without conand spiritual growth already gone. Yet, even ferences or gatherings. as Zoom interviews and that often emerges Yet the resiliency of our congreonline sermon snooping had gations and pastors has been inspiring. during the search become more commonplace, Approximately two dozen CBFNC churches many committees were forced have called new ministers in the last year. process. to reshape every aspect of their Congregations have found new ways to dissearch process. cern God’s voice amidst the overwhelming flood of Questions like: how do you digitize distractions. Church leaders are leaning more fully into presenting a pastoral candidate to the church God’s providence. And ministers, and their families, have staff, deacons and congregation? What do the by-laws taken enormous leaps of faith to follow God’s call to places say about in-person voting to call a pastor? These are not where they cannot meet the people or fully experience the insignificant questions (and disputes) for committees and community. Another reminder that if we open ourselves congregations. After all, it is almost heretical for a Baptist up to the movement of God’s Spirit, we just might find that congregation to call a pastor without sharing a potluck din- God is doing new things in our churches and in our lives. ner in the fellowship hall. Spring 2021

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A Pandemic Call Story by Seth Hix CBFNC Associate Coordinator



fter First Baptist, Wilson celebrated the retirement of their long-tenured and well-loved pastor, the church began a lengthy interim journey and pastoral search that would take an assortment of unexpected twists and turns. One of those unexpected challenges was having to call their new pastor, Rev. Dr. Chris Thomas, in the midst of a global pandemic. Fortunately for Chris and the First Baptist pastor search team, many of the initial interviews, including an in-person meeting in Wilson, had already taken place before COVID restrictions were instituted. In fact, Chris remembers that, “I had actually flown to Wilson to meet the search committee in person, tour the church and see the area the weekend that the coronavirus was beginning to be the dominant news story.” Chris not only recalls seeing the church for the first time and meeting the committee members, but also the strange circumstances of traveling in the early days of a global pandemic, he vividly remembers “a guy coughing in the terminal and someone sarcastically shouting, ‘He’s got the ’rona virus!’” Unlike some other congregations who have navigated calling a pastor in the midst of a pandemic, FBC Wilson was pretty far along in the search process before the pandemic. This well-established relationship helped to make an awkward introduction go as smoothly as possible. Yet there were still many logistical obstacles to overcome. No search team had a plan for how to introduce a new pastor to the congregation while not worshiping in the sanctuary. The church met their new pastor for the first time via 14 | The Gathering

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a pre-recorded video and a brochure prepared by the search committee. Because meeting in large groups was not safe over the summer, Chris says he requested Zoom meetings with staff, deacons, and other lay leaders. He claims, “This helped to establish a direct connection with church leadership.” Yet he admits that even in early 2021, he has “still not had the opportunity to meet a majority of the congregation face to face.” The COVID -19 pandemic has revealed a lot about the identity and resilience of our communities of faith in a variety of ministry areas. This was certainly true for First, Wilson during this unusual transition. One of the pleasant surprises was the flexibility the congregation displayed throughout the call weekend. This was a significant first impression for Chris. “Having to do very important things in very different and innovative ways is something most pastors have to cultivate over time or discover in the midst of more devastating circumstances,” he said. Chris appreciates how the congregational leadership did not want to delay the process or force it into “traditional” methods that might jeopardize the health of members of the congregation, such as an in-person “meet and greet” or call service. While the story of Chris’ pastoral tenure is still yet to be written, the foundations of his arrival will inevitably shape his ministry with this community of faith. Ultimately, their story is a testament to the resolve of both pastor and congregation to follow God’s call in the midst of unexpected circumstances. As for other congregations who may be facing a pastoral transition in the unpredictable days ahead, Chris assures them that, “It is possible, and they might discover something more about themselves and their church in the process that they may not have discovered under ‘normal’ circumstances.”

Recultivating a Cooperative Relationship, continued from page 7. Tony: We want to work toward the relational side--doing works together. People are strengthened whether we are talking about education or doing disaster recovery, but it’s that witness, God being glorified. We’ve committed to being intentional about incorporating each other into meetings. The more exposure we have to each other, the better and stronger the relationship will be and the works will be. Once it is safe to do, we are committed to giving our time both with and in front of different groups within our organizations to share about this collaboration and about the different ministries we each have in place. We’re not just looking at doing the works together, but also simply coming together as the Body of Christ. We know we’re not as close as the Lord would have for us to be. What do you want CBFNC’ers to know about GBSCNC? Tony: The central tenets of GBSCNC are: missions, Christian education and higher education, and benevolence. Those are our core drivers and the push behind everything we do. We are mission centric, whether that’s getting the Gospel out or getting help out so people can get the Gospel. We want to see people educated and grow in the knowledge of Christ. We want to see them grow in every aspect

of education so it opens up more opportunities. And then benevolence—let’s show love! In closing, Larry said, “The relationship building is critical. I think it’s what God wants and that’s what we need to be about. I can’t wait for COVID-19 to end so we can have face-to-face fellowship.”

MINISTERS ON THE MOVE Our encouragement and support go to the following ministers who have recently moved: Powell Dew to Spilman Memorial Baptist, Kinston as Pastor Felicia Fox to Benson Baptist, Benson as Minister of Youth and Children Keith McKinney to Brunswick Islands Baptist, Supply as Pastor When you make a move or know of someone who has changed places of ministry, please send us an email: For assistance to search committees and ministers seeking vocational discernment, visit the Equip Ministers and Churches page on our website ( or call us at 336.759.3456.

CBFNC HONORARY & MEMORIAL GIFTS | Oct. – Dec. 2020 Kathy Driver in honor of CBFNC office staff, Kathryn Ashworth, Jim Hylton and Jamie Rorrer, whose work behind the scenes enables CBFNC to carry out its mission. Christa & Ken Warise in honor of Larry Hovis and Jack Causey Kenneth & Lisa Rust in honor of in honor of Larry & Kim Hovis, Marc & Kim Wyatt, Jack Causey; and in memory of Mary Lib Causey

Richard & BJ King in memory of Mary Lib Causey Sandra Jarrell in honor of Jack Causey Carol Polk in honor of Jack Causey Paul Sims in honor of Jack Causey James & Elizabeth Webb in honor of Jack Causey John & Stella Perrin in honor of Stella Perrin

Tucker Mann in honor of Beth Baker and Elizabeth Smith

Carlette & Edmund Holmes in memory of Betty Stanley

Copeland Cain in honor of Beth Baker

Martha Mullikin in memory of Betty Jane Mullikin Stanley

Ellen O’Connor in honor of Beth Baker and Elizabeth Smith

Kathryn Friggle-Norton in memory of Betty Mullikin Stanley

Catherine Hale in honor of Beth Baker and Elizabeth Smith

Wendell & Doris Worthington in honor of Kimberly Coates

John Vestal in memory of Cindy Vestal

Ed Beddingfield in memory of Sarah Beddingfield

Betsy & Dennis Herman in memory of Cindy Vestal

Brad Smith in memory of Mrs. Sarah Beddingfield

Dave Stoops in memory of Bill Bigger

Natalie & Chris Aho in honor of Marc and Kim Wyatt

Don & Deborah Cherry in honor of Anna Lorraine Cherry Sue Hedrick in memory of Larry Hedrick

Oxford Baptist Church in memory of Bob Wainwright & honor of Betty Wainwright

Steve Cothran in celebration of Jack and Mary Lib Causey

A. Paul Rogers in memory of Caroline Rogers

Carolyn Purcell in honor of Jack Causey & memory of Mary Lib Causey

Don & Jo Ann Horton in honor of Larry Hovis

Steve Koontz in honor of Jack Causey & memory of Mary Lib Causey

Nancy Register in honor of Amanda Atkin, Chrissy Williamson & April Alston

Wilma McNiel in memory of Mary Lib Causey

Ann Wall in honor of Scott Hovey

David & Kathryn Olive in honor of First, Kannapolis

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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina Bringing Baptists of North Carolina Together for Christ-Centered Ministry 2640 Reynolda Road Winston-Salem, NC 27106

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A Look Ahead . . . MARCH




Holy Week/Easter Roundtable March 4 Virtual

Advocacy Series April 8, 22, May 6 Virtual

Youth Beach Retreat September 24–26

Welcome Ride 2021 October 8-10

Youth Ministry and Social Enterprise Event March 9 Virtual

Thank You for giving to our end-of-year campaign!

A New Day CBSF Midwinter Virtual Event March 13 Virtual CBFNC Annual Gathering March 18–19 Virtual

Your generosity is greatly appreciated! Please consider a gift to CBFNC throughout the year. GIVE online at or by mail to 2640 Reynold Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.