The Gathering CBFNC Magazine - Fall 2020

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of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina Fall 2020

Vol. 25 Issue 4

Embracing our Neighbors

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



Larry Hovis

Executive Coordinator

Jamie Rorrer

The Gathering Editor Director of Communications

Amy Cook

6 College Students Live Out the Gospel of Inclusion

The Gathering Graphic Designer Communications Specialist


4 CBF Statement on Racial Justice 5 Manos a la obra! Let’s get to work!

7 Meet the Lolley Scholars


Subscribe to The Gathering and our weekly eNews on our website at Fill out a subscription form by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button.

3 Reflections: A New Image for Missions





8 Embracing Neighbors By Meeting One of Their Most Basic Needs 10 Welcoming the Stranger 13 Called from Africa to America to Plant and Grow a Church


How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going MONDAY, OCTOBER 5 Based on the book How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season

Workshop led by Dr. Susan Beaumont –Minister, Consultant, Coach, Spiritual Director & Author To register, visit, then click EVENTS. The Gathering Gathering 22 || The

Summer Fall 20202020

• For clergy & laity • Cost: $10 per person

Reflections: A New Image for Missions The Primacy of Missions for Baptists


ooperative Baptists are part of the stream of the Baptist tradition that believes strongly in missions. Beginning when the British Baptists sent William Carey to India in the late 18th century, through our best days as Southern Baptists, to our founding when our first ministries as an embryonic organization involved “keeping our promises” to missionaries who were victims of denominational politics, Cooperative Baptists have been ardent supporters of missions. That has been true at the local, state, national and global levels.

by Larry Hovis | CBFNC Executive Coordinator

actions in our daily planning, serving and communicating. We are a missional people, striving to participate in God’s mission in the world, through genuine relationships—as individuals, congregations and as a fellowship.


An Important Discovery During the discernment process of the CBFNC 20th Anniversary Vision Team in 2015, Seth Hix conducted extensive interviews with leaders from about 100 congregations. These conversations yielded an abundance of insights on a variety of topics. When it comes to missions, a consistent theme emerged. Partner congregations had taken the “missional church” concept seriously. Most were heavily engaged in strong programs of mission action—locally and globally. Yet, many found these programs lacking. It’s not that they didn’t help hurting and vulnerable people, but most were simply transactional. Too few were relational. There was a longing to develop deeper, longer lasting, and meaningful relationships with those to whom they ministered. Church leaders were discovering that loving their neighbors meant more than meeting physical needs. The Gospel calls us to see our neighbors as people, not projects. That can’t be done at arm’s length, but only up close and personal.

A New Focus Listening to our church leaders, CBFNC adopted a new purpose statement for missions: CBFNC partners with churches and missional catalysts to embrace neighbors with the love of Christ in our communities, state and world. The priority of missions was reaffirmed. This image gives us flexibility in adapting our ministries to changing needs, but the idea that we do so in relationship, not at a distance, is constant. Currently, our Embrace ministries fall into the following categories: Grants to local churches for community ministries; racial equity and justice; Latino ministries (Red Latina); refugee and immigrant ministries (Welcome House Community Network); new church starts; and NC and global missions (primarily in partnership with CBF field personnel). While this edition of The Gathering focuses on these ministries, they are not limited to one publication or season. These ministries of Embrace are on our minds, hearts, and

BUT ACTUALLY EMBRACING OUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS HOW WE UNDERSTAND BOTH THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE GREAT COMMANDMENT. A Captivating Image In the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, I, like most Americans, was captivated by images of the ensuing protests. One particular image was burned into my retina. It was the image of a young Black protester and an older white police officer giving one another a great big bear hug. Both had smiles on their faces. They were not faking it but appeared to truly love and respect one another. This massive gesture of embrace seems to me to be a picture of the kind of community envisioned by Isaiah’s vision of the coming of the Lord (11:6-9): The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 6

May this image propel us, North Carolina Cooperative Baptists, to more faithfully and effectively engage in God’s mission than we or any group of Baptists have ever done before. Fall 2020

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Sparked by the heightened racial injustices in our country, CBFNC joins with our larger Fellowship in adopting the CBF Governing Board's Statement on Racial Justice.

The Governing Board of the

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Statement on Racial Justice June 4, 2020


e, the members of the CBF Governing Board, express our grief at the heinous killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. These three precious children of God are only the latest victims in a long line of unjust murders and lynchings at the hand of hate, bigotry, white supremacy and systemic racism, endemic in our society.

As CBF, we call for deep systemic reforms in policing practices and the larger criminal justice system. We call on our political leaders to move swiftly and to respond to the outpouring of anger, grief and protest in ways that deescalate tension and violence.

As CBF, we speak out of the deep conviction that the work of racial justice, anti-racism and the search for honest racial reconciliation are, most of all, acts of faithfulness. The prophet Micah told us long ago that the Lord requires that we “do justice.” (Micah 6:8) Paul reminded us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, but now God has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us.” (II Corinthians 5:16-21) So we know that doing justice and pursuing reconciliation are central to the mission of God and, therefore, necessary to Christian faith.

their communities and advocate for change, including in public policy.

To the Black members of our Fellowship community, we ask forgiveness for the many We add our voices to the millions, all over the times our actions and response to racism have fallen short and made you feel unwelcome. We world, outraged at the lack of swift justice. As Christians, we ask forgiveness from God love you, we are grateful for your presence, and for the times when we have seen injustice and we stand in solidarity with you this day. As CBF, we pledge to increase our efforts at “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31-32); when we have remained silent, when we have diversifying our own leadership and to welcome stayed complacent, when we have made up more non-Anglo churches within the Fellowship. excuses for our indifference and prejudice. We We pledge to strengthen our partnership with ask forgiveness from God for the times when we organizations led by our Black siblings and to preach the rhetoric of unity and love from the encourage our churches to do the same. pulpit without doing the work. We ask forgiveness We pledge to encourage and equip our entire from God for the ways our lack of action has Fellowship, our congregations, their leaders and perpetuated unjust systems. each of us individually to confront racism within

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As CBF, we promise to support and encourage our congregations as they form faith in people of all ages such that the love, grace and power of the Triune God eradicates prejudice from our hearts. Let justice come as rivers flow to cleanse the land of evil’s stain. Let righteousness like waters fall, and wash away our tears of pain.

(Adam M.L. Tice)

Manos a la obra! Let’s get to work! by Santiago Reales | Director, Red Latina


ET’S GET TO WORK! With these words, the people responded to Nehemiah after sharing the compassionate way God helped him and the words of hope that the Persian king said to him. They were words of empowerment that encouraged the people of Israel during captivity. Nehemiah’s desire to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls stems from a call from God and after having processed the pain, suffering, and loss of freedom and limitations to worship God. (Nehemiah 1-2). I can’t imagine what it feels like to live in exile, in the face of the uncertainty of knowing if things will change in the future. This narrative reminds me of God’s presence in the history of the human being and the opportunities that He opens for our lives to be better. Similarly, during this pandemic time, many of the pastors of the Red Latina have experienced an “emotional exile” where COVID-19 has limited us from doing what we love: ministering to and serving others. As Nehemiah comforted his people, many pastors in and out of Red Latina continue comforting each other. With empowerment and wisdom, pastors have shared ways to approach, assimilate, and process the effects of COVID-19. “Let’s get to work” were the Red Latina team’s words, and so on March 13, we proactively started a chat on “What’s App” to address our concerns and share mutual aid resources. It was amazing to see how many pastors jumped from the pulpit to “live streaming” on Facebook and Zoom. Some exclamations that I have heard are:

Work on the consolidation of the Red Latina The leadership team continues to meet through the Zoom platform to take care of business. Also, we have created Zoom opportunities to have moments of reflection, pastoral care, and also to promote events online.

• “I have had to be creative to get my message across to others.” • “I had to unlearn to learn again.” • “We have stopped doing to be doing.”

Strengthen and equip the local church’s leadership All the resources that CBFNC has available have been translated into Spanish and shared. We also awarded six grants among Latino congregations to equip leadership. As a necessity, we offered a webinar, “The church in a pandemic time: The recovery of Its Identity,” facilitated by pastor Juan Carlos Cevallos, the new Hispanic minister at The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville, NC.

Despite the effects of COVID-19, we continue with our vision for 2020 that includes some of the following goals:

Strategically create projects that benefit neighboring CBF churches Before the effects of COVID-19, we managed to carry out two projects that involved several CBF congregations. On February 29, the “Red Latina Women’s Conference Winter 2020” was held in collaboration with the Latino Ministry of the First Baptist Church in Huntersville. One hundred twenty-five women from all over the state gathered to grow in their spiritual and personal lives under the theme “Breaking the rules: Women with great power and great support.” Our last in-person training was offered on March 14 at Baptist Church “Centro Familiar Cristiano” in Siler City. We had a fantastic time talking to parents about “discipline techniques.” Additionally, “La Iglesia Cristiana Sin Fronteras” has been a strategic point for food distribution in Winston-Salem during COVID-19.

See “Let’s Get to Work!” on page 6. Fall 2020

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mbracing our neighbors has been the cornerstone of North Carolina Baptist campus ministry for decades. It was student ministry that first engaged in summer missions back in the 1940s. The goal was to put the enthusiasm of young Christians in places where they could offer hope and at the same time put the students in situations and locales that would stretch them and help them think about a world different from the one they knew. Years ago, I interviewed over a 100 campus ministers who had served during the years of the 1940–1980s. Time and time again I heard stories about leadership that modeled and encouraged students to think and live out a gospel of inclusion. One of those stories concerned the integration of Wake Forest College. From the 1955 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina vote that

By Wanda Kidd It was Reverend Christman CBFNC Collegiate who reached out to seven Engagement students he believed would Coordinator create a healthy group of students with whom Reynolds could live. Joe Clontz, a rising Junior from Charlotte, was asked to be Reynolds’ roommate. The appeal that the chaplain made to the students was based on an understanding of Christ’s teachings. Unaware of the radical transition they were ushering in, these students responded with typical young adult passion. There are a multitude of stories about inclusion and standing with students of color and other marginalized people in the history of North Carolina Baptist campus ministry. Many of those students in the 60s, became North Carolina Baptist campus ministers and local

College Ministry Lives Out the Gospel of Inclusion Baptist colleges should accept students based on merit rather than race, seven years later it finally came to fruition. In the fall of 1962 Edward Reynolds, a Ghanaian student who had been nurtured by Southern Baptist missionaries in Ghana, Africa, became the first student of color admitted to Wake Forest. That student’s acceptance made Wake Forest College the first private college in the south to integrate. While that was a remarkable feat that took years of pressure on the institutional powers, there were other pragmatic issues that needed to be addressed, like his living arrangements. With that concern on the table, the administration did not ask student services how to handle the situation. They instead went to WFC Assistant Chaplain Ed Christmas and asked him how they should proceed.

Let’s Get to Work!,

continued from page 5.

We would appreciate your prayers as we try to make important decisions about the following events we had planned for the remainder of 2020. Our Youth Retreat 2020 in partnership with “La Voz de la Esperanza Baptist Church” at Ridgecrest Conference Center that is scheduled August 7–9. And our annual Fall Ministers retreat, which is one of the essential pastoral formation events of the year. I am thankful to CBFNC for its support offered to the Red Latina ministry. Also, I would like to recognize our leadership 6 | The Gathering

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pastors. They told stories of inclusion and they modeled compassion. Their leadership raised up another generation of students who saw the world through a lens of Christian kinship. It is our hope as leaders and students of CBFNC college ministry to continue that legacy and to not just stand up for people of color and other marginalized people, but to stand with them. As CBFNC Collegiate Ministry is being shaped, we want to embrace our neighbors, but then to go to work to help define not just our calling as beloved children of God, but to throw open the doors with no thresholds to step over. It is our prayer that others will know that they too are beloved children of God with all of the rights and privileges afforded God’s Children. Pray with us as we live out this calling.

team: Daniel Sostaita (Iglesia Cristiana Sin Fronteras), Fortino Ocampo (Iglesia Bautista Centro Familiar), Rafael Hernandez (First Baptist Church Huntersville) and Julio de Leon (Iglesia Bautista Valle de los Lirios en Durham). I appreciate also the support of women’s leadership included by Elaine Reales, Veronica Gallegos, Emma Hernandez, Pilar Ocampo, and Irene Sostaita. Manos a la Obra—Let’s get to work!

Meet the

Lolley Scholars


roviding support and scholarship assistance to students engaged in theological education is an important part of the work of CBFNC. Supported by an endowment fund established by CBFNC in 2008 to honor Randall and Lou Lolley, the Lolley Scholarships are our most comprehensive scholarships that provide perpetual funding of theological education for future ministers. Through individual and congregational gifts to the endowment fund, CBFNC is able to support four to five outstanding students for all three years of their M.Div. program. Please join us in congratulating the following 2020-2021 Lolley Scholarship recipients. TANNER BROWN Master of Divinity at Campbell University Divinity School First Baptist, New Bern, NC

SEAN TIMMONS Master of Divinity at Duke University Divinity School First Baptist, Huntersville, NC

LUKE PERRIN Master of Divinity at Duke University Divinity School Jubilee Baptist, Chapel Hill, NC

ELIZABETH SWETT Master of Divinity at Duke University Divinity School First Baptist, Gainesville, GA

The goal of the Lolley Fund for Theological Education is to support men and women preparing for Christian ministry who are enrolled in seminaries or divinity schools and who have a commitment to serving in Baptist congregations and ministries. Candidates for the scholarships must be nominated by someone who can speak to her or his outstanding promise for Christian ministry and excellent potential for graduate-level work. Consider making a gift to the Lolley Fund for Theological Education. Your generosity will create a legacy that will impact ministers and congregations for years to come.

Visit and click on the word “give” at the very top of the home page. On the donation form, look for “Where would you like to direct your gift?” Choose “Randall and Lou Lolley Endowment for Theological Education” from the menu of options.

Your support is essential to providing theological education to future Baptist ministers! Fall 2020

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EMBRACING NEIGHBORS By Meeting One of Their MOST BASIC NEEDS by Anna Anderson | CBF Field Personnel


ROM THE BEGINNING OF OUR introduction to Rev. Richard Joyner, founding director of The Conetoe Family Life Center and pastor of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, we have been interested and invested in the work he has begun there. What started as a friendship has grown to a partnership and a collaboration in ministry that continues to unfold and inspire us in ways we could not have dreamed possible eight years ago when we first met.

Conetoe is a tiny town in Edgecombe County in northeastern North Carolina— one of the most economically challenged areas of the state. It’s classified by the government as a “food desert,” which is a geographic area at least 10 miles from fresh food access and most commonly found in Black and Brown communities and low-income areas. The Conetoe Family Life Center began as an agricultural project with a two-acre community garden. Growing fresh vegetables so that the people in this community could have better access to healthier, fresher food was one of the main goals of the Center. Today, students and the community come together to grow and distribute about 50,000 pounds of fresh produce from that garden each year. Soon beekeeping and honey production came along; summer enrichment programs for youth in the community came along; after school help for children; literacy enrichment programs— all sorts of things targeted to the goals of healthier and more productive lifestyles for those who live in persistent, generational poverty. The church was doing some things, the schools were doing some things, but Rev. Joyner always felt that there was more that could be done. Because of food insecurity in communities like Conetoe, volunteers have often stepped up to help. Growing food takes so much: land, equipment, garden expertise, willing volunteers for all 12 months a year, and more. It’s a huge undertaking and one that Conetoe Family Life Center continues to adjust and tweak, all to bring about 8 | The Gathering

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more complete and efficient ways to get healthy food into people’s homes. Today, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes are prepared with fresh vegetables and fruits from the 27-acre garden. These boxes are sold—some to area hospitals and restaurants and other organizations all to provide money back into the ministry of the garden. Vegetables are given away or sold very cheaply to local folks. Prior to COVID-19, sometimes, even a food trailer would be set up in the church parking lot on Sundays so that people could easily get fresh vegetables as they left church. There are also a significant number of senior adults in this area living in poverty. For the past three years, we have helped administer a food program in Edgecombe County for low income senior adult families with food from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Through a state application process, these folks receive a 50-pound box of non-perishable foods such as canned vegetables, grains, canned meats, protein such as peanut butter, canned fruits, long shelf-life milk, etc. And sometimes, fresh things can be added to the boxes as they are available from either the garden at Conetoe Family Life Center or the food bank. This program means so much to low income families who are struggling. We have one participant who is 106 years old! There are 10 volunteers who take these boxes to people who cannot drive themselves or otherwise get to the site where the boxes are distributed each month. We have other volunteers who meet with us each month to help with loading boxes in cars, paperwork that needs completing for the food bank’s records, and many other needs that arise. And we didn’t allow the COVID-19 pandemic to disrupt our efforts. For the past four months, we’ve had drive-through distribution so that the people who come don’t have to leave their cars. We are also using safety measures like wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Whether CSA boxes or the food bank’s program boxes, we’re all working together to do the best we can in making sure these families have the food they need. Thanks to the generous gifts of so many CBF and CBFNC churches and individuals, we can provide this most basic need for our friends and neighbors. Learn more about Conetoe Family Life Center by visiting the website: Anna Anderson serves as CBF field personnel in northeastern North Carolina with Together for Hope, CBF’s rural development coalition, focusing on providing poverty relief.

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WELCOMING the Stranger

Short stories about embracing our immigrant and refugee neighbors.*

Beloved Community by Marc Wyatt CBF Advocate for Refugees and Immigrants and Welcome House Community Network Co-Founder

Marc and his wife, Kim, are CBF field personnel serving in the Raleigh area to partner with churches and individuals to welcome and love their international neighbors. In collaboration with CBFNC, refugee agencies and partner churches, they co-founded the Welcome House Community Network—a network of seven Welcome Houses established across North Carolina and Tennessee and two apartments that are used for ESL instruction and other ministries. To learn more, email:

*Some of the names in the following stories have been changed for security and privacy reasons. 10 | The Gathering

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ujib came to live at Welcome House under a Special Immigrant Visa from the U.S. Military. He risked his life for many years interpreting and helping with military logistics in his home country of Afghanistan. Not long after arriving here, he met Gary. Gary and his wife, Roberta, are volunteers at Welcome House. They invited Mujib to their church, Tabernacle Baptist in Raleigh. Mujib had never been to church before. It was a first for him. He’d never heard Christians pray, or followed the words of a hymn with his finger while the congregation sang, or listened to a sermon, or shook hands with the preacher after church before that first Sunday. Mujib soon began calling Tabernacle Baptist his church. I was frankly surprised. I mean there are a lot of churches in our area; why that one, the only one he’d visited? I’m pretty sure it was because it was his friend’s church. It was the beloved community that welcomed him in. Well, it didn’t take long for the church to consider Mujib one of theirs, either. He soon stopped being the guy from a faraway country where folks worship God differently and speak a different language. He was Mujib, their friend and faithful visitor from Welcome House. Continued at the bottom of page 11.

Aunt Joan and Uncle Bill


oan is an amazing person. She is also a retired nurse. She attends Greystone Baptist in Raleigh with her husband, Bill. When her church began partnering with us, Joan asked if she could help. There was a need right up her alley, but we weren’t sure if we should ask her to help with that one. A newly arrived refugee family with a seriously ill daughter had come to our attention. We weren’t sure if we should ask her to help with that big need because it would take a lot of time and she was just getting started. But we asked, and Joan took a big step of faith by saying, “YES!” She later told us that she’d spent her life helping sick people. But helping sick refugees had challenged her and frankly helped her grow by leaps and bounds in her faith. She said that now she believes she is being a real disciple of Christ. Joan became “Aunt Joan” to that family and many more since then. And her husband Bill—well, he’s “Uncle Bill” to just as many new neighbors. “It’s changed our lives for the better,” testifies Bill. They continue to embrace their immigrant neighbors practicing social distancing. They prayerfully look forward to the day when they can once again have folks over to their house for dinner, swap stories (mostly true ones) and then there are the hugs; lots of hugs will be given out at that grand, post pandemic reunion.

Welcome House Virtual ESL Teacher, Gladys Walker, member of FBC Raleigh South Wilmington Street.

Children’s Mission Day Flat River Baptist Association collected paper products for Welcome House.

“He soon stopped being the guy from a faraway country where folks worship God differently and speak a different language. HE WAS MUJIB, THEIR FRIEND AND FAITHFUL VISITOR FROM WELCOME HOUSE.” Mujib went to church regularly for many months. He heard many sermons and enjoyed the fellowship of his church family. And then at the right time and place it all became clear. Mujib told me, “It’s true. It’s all true!” He professed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior sitting with me in the front seat of my old F-150. He was baptized later by his pastor. Mujib is currently the Welcome House host. He lives in the house overseeing the care of both guests and property. He continues to grow in his faith and practice as a member in good standing at his church in Raleigh. Gary and Mujib are a part of a weekly Zoom Bible study that meets on Monday nights. Social distance discipleship is something neither imagined before March. But then again, pretty much all things have become new now. With a warm hug, Marc Wyatt welcomes his friend and brother, Mujib, into the family of Christ followers on the day he was baptized. Fall 2020

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Beautiful Church

Barbara Best, member of Crabtree Valley Baptist Church and Beth Baker, member of Hayes Barton United Methodist Church work with refugee child on preschool readiness.

Former Welcome House guest hosts the Wyatts for dinner.

Kim Wyatt reviews schedule and plans with volunteers for Baptists on Mission Medical/Dental Bus Day at Welcome House apartment community. 12 | The Gathering

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lexi came to the U.S. seeking asylum from Russia. We didn’t know he was even in Raleigh until his friend, Victor also from Russia and an asylum seeker, told us about him. Victor was referred to us by our local refugee agency partner. He was our guest at Welcome House for about three weeks. His friend, Alexi however, did not have a case worker from the agency. Asylum seekers don’t have the same kind of support as sponsored refugees. Asylum seekers must prove they are in threat of their lives when they enter a U.S. Immigration check point. It’s all up to the immigration officer. Most are denied entry. Many are detained. It is a long and difficult legal process. Most asylum seekers in North Carolina are deported. Because Alexi didn’t have a sponsor, he was on the verge of homelessness. Victor asked if his friend could sleep on the sofa of Welcome House until he could figure something else out. While at Welcome House, Alexi was taken to the refugee agency where he found help. They helped him find a job and a place to live. We didn’t learn much about Alexi. He kept to himself while with us. When he moved out, we helped him furnish the room he rented in someone’s apartment near NC State University. About two weeks later I received an email from Courtney. She is a member of First Baptist-Raleigh where she volunteers in their clothing ministry. Refugees and others in need are referred to the ministry by many non-profits and helping organizations in our community. Courtney shared that she had helped Alexi with some clothes and that she later found out that he had stayed at Welcome House. She asked him if there was anything else her church could do for him. He shared that he needed a few kitchen items, so Courtney wrote to confirm his needs and asked for direction on how to help him. She went on to say that when Alexi was at the clothing ministry, he told her how beautiful her church was and asked if he could worship there. “Of course,” she told him. “All are welcome here!” He said he would figure out how to get there by bus to which she replied, “Please let me and my husband come and get you this Sunday. We will bring you to church.” Courtney went on to share with us that during Alexi’s first Sunday in worship, he was spending a lot of time on his cell phone. Apparently, he was live streaming the service back to Russia so his wife could hear the beautiful words and music of his church. They had never experienced anything like it before. It was a first for Courtney, too, and the first time her church’s worship service was live streamed to Russia. Courtney and her family remain connected to Alexi despite the pandemic. Most recently she texted asking if I could give her some advice; she is helping her new neighbor do his taxes for the first time.

Called from Africa to America to Plant and Grow a Church

by Brickson Sam Senior Pastor, Together in Christ International Ministries (A CBFNC church start)


hrough the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program, my wife Annie, our three children and I moved to the United States in late 2009 from Sierra Leone in West Africa. We were sponsored by Tom and LeDayne Polaski and located in Charlotte. It is was my dream to use my skills to start a church. I also wanted to continue to promote social justice and compassion in today’s world by either teaching at a high school or college level, or by providing skills to young leaders. Prior to our immigration to the United States, I was the senior pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Sierra Leone, president of All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship, and vice president of the Baptist World Alliance Youth Department. My wife was a middle school teacher and president of Baptist Pastors Wives in Freetown, Sierra Leone. A combination of gifting, desire and affirmation all informed my call to plant a church in the United States. When my family was leaving Sierra Leone, two proclamations were made in the farewell service:

1. that my family plants a church in the U.S. 2. that we come to the U.S. to serve as missionaries. Two months after I arrived, I was encouraged by Larry Hovis, executive coordinator for CBF of North Carolina, to seek the possibility of starting a church amongst Sierra Leoneans living in the Charlotte area. Having planted and built a church in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the desire was also in me to do the same in the United States. God has gifted me with an evangelistic heart, a dose of evangelistic success, the ability to preach, recruit, disciple, cast vision, lead others, form teams, and entrepreneurial skills. After ardent prayers with my wife and consultations with various individuals, pastors, leaders and members of the Sierra Leone community in Charlotte, the decision was made to start Together In Christ International Ministries. In September 2011 we started with home cells. Within one year, October 2012, we officially started Together in Christ International Ministries through the support of CBFNC and CBF global. Over the years, our church has received faithful support from CBFNC and CBF. I was honored to have been officially commissioned as church planter at the CBF General Assembly in 2012 in Fort Worth, See “Called from Africa to America” on page 14. Fall 2020

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Called from Africa to America, continued from page 13. Texas. And I am grateful to have received further training with CBF pastors and leaders. The CBF family welcomed us with open arms, making us feel belonged and beloved. I have attended and participated in CBFNC events and CBF General Assemblies and have received equal opportunities just like any other pastor or church. CBFNC has been an important part of Together in Christ International Ministries, especially the former missions coordinator, Linda Jones. She visited and preached at our church on several occasions. Last year, we marked another milestone in the growth of our church. In February 2019, upon the recommendation of Rev. LeDayne Polaski, former executive director of Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and Larry Hovis, St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte welcomed us into their campus and provided us our current worship space.

We have held joint services together and are considered as one family at St. John’s. The church family has been very hospitable and has done everything possible to make us to feel at home. The pastors and members have always said to us “we are glad to have you.” All of CBFNC is such a blessing to my church and family. We are glad and grateful to be part of this great family of Christ.

New Pastor Cohort (2020-2022)

Now Forming! “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” —Plato, Republic STARTING WELL AS A NEW PASTOR IS CRITICAL for sustaining a meaningful, rewarding and fruitful ministry over a lifetime. Learning from peers and seasoned mentors is essential to starting well, and CBFNC recognizes the value of bringing new pastors together for that purpose. The vocation of ministry is a shared one. CBFNC’s Helping Pastors Thrive Program is currently forming a cohort of new pastors that will begin a two-year journey in formation and learning starting in November 2020. Limited to eight participants, the cohort is designed to be a community and space for interaction, learning, support and growth. Helping Pastors Thrive is a ministry of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina. For more info, visit or email


HONORARY & MEMORIAL GIFTS A gift was given to the CBFNC operating budget

Donate to CBFNC today!

for campus ministry by John Vestal in memory of Cindy Vestal. A gift was given by Lisa Rust in honor of Kim & Marc Wyatt. A gift was given by John and Ginny Mills in honor of Hoover, Jo, Tim and Benny Hendrix.


Mt. Hermon, Durham (Virtual) Hope Valley, Durham (Virtual) Nobles Chapel, Simms (Virtual) First, Mt. Holly (Virtual) First, North Wilkesboro First, Wadesboro Calvary, Reidsville


MINISTERS ON THE MOVE Our encouragement and support go to the following ministers who have recently moved: Derrick Arellano to Westwood, Cary as Associate Pastor for Music and Worship Wade Arnold to First, Clemmons as Pastor Andrew Barrett to Trinity, Newton as Pastor Blaine Britt to Woodhaven, Apex as Associate Pastor to Youth and Young Adults Nate Dove to St. John’s, Charlotte as Minister for Youth and Young Adults David Durham to First, Elon as Pastor Rendell Hipps to Calvary, Asheville as Pastor

Designate a gift for scholarships, new church starts, or where it is most needed.

Michael Lasater-Sizemore to Benson, Benson as Minister of Children and Youth


Ryan Wilson to Wake Forest, Wake Forest as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Administration

Contact Jim Hylton at 336.759.3456 for more information. Gifts from individual supporters established this endowment fund to supplement the CBFNC annual operating budget. Gifts to this fund assist all areas of CBFNC ministry as we strive to join the work of God in the world.

Chris Thomas to First, Wilson 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 at or call us at 336.759.3456 or 888.822.1944. Fall 2020

The Gathering | 15

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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CBFNC supports and strengthens ministry leaders and the churches they serve.

CBFNC Annual Gathering: EQUIP MARCH 19, 2021


Providence, Charlotte

CBFNC Annual Gatherin g

Upcoming Events

NEXT YEAR, OUR ANNUAL GATHERING WILL BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT. The main sessions and annual business meeting will take place at our primary location, Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte. However, other churches around the state will also host smaller gatherings simultaneously so that we may continue our commitment to safety. All of these locations will have online capabilities so that everyone has access to our main sessions and annual business meeting. Stay tuned for more information!

SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER Helping Pastors Thrive Readings in Narrative Preaching September 21-October 23 5-Week Online Course

CBFNC Fall Workshop: How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going Monday, October 5 Online

MARCH 2021 CBFNC Annual Gathering March 19 Providence, Charlotte