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Hunger ministries supported by the CBF Offering for Global Missions
Join CBF as we pray and serve to end hunger around the world
Covenant to Act Cross-Culturally THE CHURCH is that community of witness which confesses Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God. In confessing Jesus as Lord, our Fellowship is united with all who confess his name. One aspect of Fellowship identity is the affirmation of the witness of Christ-followers across and beyond the boundaries of geography, race, theology and time. What does a cross-cultural Baptist family look like? Better yet, what do we act like? At the recent New Baptist Covenant Summit in Decatur, Ga. (see pp. 16-17), a group of 75 Baptist leaders began to map out what that collaboration looks like in their cities. With gratitude for one another in our past relationships, we named a new covenant of mutual support and cooperation, resulting in a higher level of missional collaboration. We recognize that we are part of a larger movement of God’s Spirit among Baptist congregations and individuals. We honor our history and heritage while seeking to be a witness in this time. We are born into this time and God is asking something of us. The demand that confronts us is the redemption of the world. How shall we live into this kingdom vision? Covenant is the key. To be in covenant with one another, we must see each other, hear each other and stand as the gospel for those beyond our walls. CBF has sustained partnerships of collaboration and common work with other Baptists and Christians in missions and ministry. We have commissioned Vol. 24, No. 1 field personnel jointly with EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR • Suzii Paynter American Baptist Churches ASSOCIATE COORDINATOR, FELLOWSHIP USA and the Baptist ADVANCEMENT • Jeff Huett Missionary Society (United EDITOR • Aaron Weaver ASSOCIATE EDITOR • Emily Holladay Kingdom). CBF serves ASSISTANT EDITOR • Candice Young together with 14 other Baptist PHONE • (770) 220-1600 bodies at the table of the E-MAIL • email@example.com Baptist Joint Committee for WEB SITE • www.thefellowship.info Religious Liberty as well as fellowship! is published 6 times a year in Feb./ on many other boards and March, April/May, June/July, Aug./Sept., Oct./ leadership teams. Nov., Dec./Jan. by the Cooperative Baptist This has been a hallmark of Fellowship Inc., 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite our Fellowship! The days and 500, Decatur, GA 30030. Periodicals postage paid at Decatur, GA, and additional offices. years ahead are beckoning USPS #015-625. POSTMASTER: Send us to more collaboration address changes to fellowship! Cooperative and a closer kinship for the Baptist Fellowship, 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500, Decatur, GA 30030.
transformation of our cities. We are being called to break down the barriers of privilege and blindness that keep us from the full power of the gospel. As Carlyle Marney reminds us, “In this time and place the church is more than conscience; it is also will. God’s will — to be and to do, working in the world. This requires … a radical obedience (to the will of the Father) in the teeth of some things painful to face: war, race, poverty, education, the state and all orders of society and creation; within them and often counter to them, the church must live its life as conscience, will and compassion.” Too often, we allow racial, cultural, geographical and theological differences to create barriers and boundaries rather than covenants. The work of a cross-cultural kingdom takes intentionality. The Covenants of Action pledged by the pastors, staff and leaders of churches in Dallas, Birmingham and Atlanta at the New Baptist Covenant Summit are worthy of our support as beginning templates for our Fellowship across all states and regions, to explore and partner — pastor-to-pastor, leaderto-leader, congregation-to-congregation — to accomplish something gospel-worthy for our common union in Christ. In these cities, as in every city, we recognize the autonomy of supporting congregations, individuals and governance bodies. But, we also recognize a strong mutuality in our mission that leads us to covenant together in prayer, affirmation, collaboration and partnership. What is the witness when Baptists of different racial and ethnic backgrounds join together for sustained work in the name of Jesus himself? It’s personal. These Covenants of Action will be a multiracial Baptist Christian witness to feed children, curb predatory lending, address violence and support education for children and parents in these cities. When asked, “Why will you make this public commitment to reach across town and work with another church?” one minister replied, “When I get weary of the effort that it takes to build lasting relationships with others that are culturally different, I remember that it is this effort that surely pleases God, more than many other things I will do.”
Suzii Paynter, CBF Executive Coordinator
Contents 8 10 13 16 18 22 26 27 28 30 31
Leading CBF into a vibrant future — Three women selected as CBF state/regional coordinators La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Deltona is working for social change The gospel ministry of advocacy — CBF personnel and leaders work for immigration reform At Summit, Baptist leaders announce action covenants on hunger, literacy, predatory lending A prophetic preacher: An interview with the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. God’s great migration — CBF field personnel share Christ with internationals in Houston CBF advances advocacy efforts, begins work with ethicist as theologian in residence Advocacy 101 — An interview with Stephen Reeves Diann Whisnand serves immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley with literacy ministry
JOHN PARKS PHOTO
Affect: February 2014 Immigration and Advocacy Affect: March 2014 Internationals
The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. at the New Baptist Covenant Summit in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 22, 2013
Connect with the Fellowship KEEP UP WITH THE WORK and ministry of CBF churches, partners, field personnel and individuals through our online networks. Learn about ways to get involved in CBF life and plug in! fb.com/cbfinfo — “Like” Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on Facebook for the most up-to-date news on CBF missions and ministries. twitter.com/cbfinfo — Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation about how CBF individuals and churches are being the presence of Christ globally. cbfblog.com — CBFblog is the place where you can always find the latest news and views in the Fellowship. thefellowship.info/subscribe — Subscribe to fellowship! weekly for regular updates on CBF events as well as breaking news.
prayerspeople of the
Practicing Sabbath time By Bo Prosser
aking time for Sabbath is not something that most of us practice. We are so obsessed with achieving that we rarely take time to just be still. Sabbath is a time to rest in the arms of God. Sabbath is a time to reflect on the presence of God. We tend to live in an ongoing tension between our yearning for Sabbath and our insecurity
CBF Ministries Prayer Calendar CH = Chaplain FP = Field Personnel FPC = Child of Field Personnel GMP = Global Missions Partner PC = Pastoral Counselor PLT = Church Planter
Student.Go intern, Miami, FL (FP) 17 Nancy James, Haiti (FP); Ryan Wagers, Salisbury, NC (CH) 18 Edward Fleming, Winston-Salem, NC (CH); Jean Pruett, Charlotte, NC (CH) 19 Karen Harwell (S-Atlanta) 20 Timothy Doremus, Mt. Washington, KY (PLT); Amanda Ducksworth, Columbus, MS (CH/PLT); Younsoo Park, Aiea, HI (CH)
S = CBF Staff
21 Rebecca Church, Louisville, KY (CH); Wesley Craig, San Antonio, Texas (PLT); Linda McComb, Clinton, MS (CH); Jeffrey Thompson, Gainesville, GA (CH)
22 Stephanie McLeskey, Mars Hill, NC (CH)
1 Susan Collins, Stone Mountain, GA (CH); Carrie Dean, Atlanta, GA (PLT); Brad Jackson, Springfield, OH (CH); James Touchton, Ithaca, NY (CH)
23 Michelle Wildes, West Columbia, SC (CH)
2 Joe Alverson, Nicholasville, KY (CH); John R. Fogarty, Freeport, FL (PLT); Jaisis Orea, 2002, China (FPC); Terry Tatro, Louisville, KY (CH)
25 Lindell Anderson, Fort Worth, TX (CH); Rick Foster, Lynchburg, VA (CH); Mira Zivanov, St. Louis, MO (FP)
3 Richard Dayringer, Grove, OK (PC); William Elliott, Lexington, KY (CH)
26 Rodney Craggs, Louisville, KY (CH); Zeke DeLozier, Bogart, GA (PC); Sheryl Johnson, Richmond, VA (CH); Louis Mason, Greensboro, NC (CH)
4 Delores Kay Smith, Hickory, NC (CH) 5 Brian Cleveland, New Orleans, LA (CH); Arley Hughes, Saint Marys, GA (CH); Joanna Tarr, Norfolk, VA (CH)
24 Edwin Badillo, Levittown, Puerto Rico (CH); Danny Tomlinson, Belton, TX (CH)
27 Lori Myrick, Kenya (FP)
6 Donn Poole, The Villages, FL (PLT)
29 Ricks Edmondson, Saginaw, TX (CH)
8 John Boyles, Lynchburg, VA (CH); Biju Chacko, Morrisville, NC (CH); C.J. Wehmiller, Murrayville, GA (FP)
9 Shaquisha Barnes, Durham, NC (CH); Nathan Cooper, Greenville, SC (CH); Ray Johnson (S-Florida); Judy McReynolds, Durham, NC (CH); Elizabeth Milazzotto, Louisville, KY (PC); Willie Smith, Fredericksburg, VA (CH) 10 Karen Estle, Indianapolis, IN (PC); James Rentz, Spartanburg, SC (PC); Sam Southard, Naples, FL (PC); Cynthia Thomas, Houston, TX (CH) 11 Lauralee Estes, Northport, AL (PC); Katee Harris, Rose Hill, NC (CH); Ann Miller, Arlington, TX (CH); Will Runyon, Maryville, TN (CH); Rick Stevenson, Shelbyville, TN (CH) 12 Mera Corlett, Louisville, KY (CH); Jo Kirkendall, Biloxi, MS (CH); Sasha Zivanov, St. Louis, MO (FP) 13 Dianne Swaim, North Little Rock, AR (CH)
1 Vicki Hollon, San Antonio, TX (CH); Brent Peery, Conroe, TX (CH); Chris Scales, Lubbock, TX (CH) 2 Michael Patterson, Harker Heights, TX (CH); Laurice Rogers, Hodgenville, KY (PC); Hector Villaneuva, Siler City, NC (PLT); Glenn Williams, Louisville, KY (PC) 3 David Bosley, Vienna, VA (CH) 4 Ed Lemmond, Athens, TN (CH); Jane Martin, Emeritus (FP); Kevin Traughber, Paducah, KY (CH) 5 Buddy Corbin, Asheville, NC (CH); Ray Higgins (S-Arkansas); Donnie Marlar, Rochester, NY (CH) 6 Ronnie Adams, New York City, NY (FP); Chad Hawkins, Pearland, TX (CH)
who has made us, provides for us and sustains us. Jesus modeled pulling away to be still and know God for us. So this month, pause and pray! Then, rest in the presence of God! Next, pray for yourself and for one of the names in the prayer calendar below. Ask God for your own provision and sustenance and for the same blessings to be bestowed on the person you are praying for. Finally, just rest in the presence of God. You might fall asleep or your mind might wander. Pray as you can, resting in Godâ€™s gift of Sabbath time.
10 Dean Akers, Fort Benning, GA (CH); Joshua Ballew, 1992, China (FPC); Cindy Bishop, Piedmont, SC (CH); Clarissa Strickland (S-Atlanta) 11 Christa Buice (S-Atlanta); Julia Flores, Lynchburg, VA (CH); Genene Nisbet, Louisville, KY (PC); Beth Ogburn, Oklahoma City, OK (CH); Rebekah Ramsey, Concord, NC (CH) 12 Kenneth Bentley, Carbon Hill, AL (CH); Jameson Williams, Shelby, NC (CH) 14 Mary Beth Caffey, Lewiston, ME (PLT); Wayne Lanham, Forest, VA (CH) 15 Carita Brown, Catonsville, MD (CH); Fran Stuart, Boynton Beach, FL (CH); Mary van Rheenen, Europe (FP) 17 Mary Gessner, Madison, AL (PC); Joel Sturtevant, Frankfort, KY (CH); Blake Traynham, Richmond, VA (CH) 18 Dodie Huff-Fletcher, Louisville, KY (PC); Denny Jones, Atlanta, GA (CH); Gregory Qualls, Mooresboro, NC (CH); Beth Riddick, Fredericksburg, VA (CH); David Robinson, Newport News, VA (PC) 19 Jennifer Bordenet, Orlando, FL (CH); Kim Schmitt, Fayetteville, GA (CH) 20 Anna Allred, Asheboro, NC (CH); Cynthia Corey, Brunswick, GA (CH); William Hemphill, Stone Mountain, GA (CH); Tom Sanders, The Villages, FL (PLT) 21 Walter Jackson, Louisville, KY (PC); Alan Melton, Waynesboro, VA (PC); Aaron Weaver (S-Atlanta) 23 J. Claude Huguley, Nashville, TN (CH); Andy Overmon, Mustang, OK (CH) 24 Edgar Berryman, Chicago, IL (CH); Michael Gross, Roswell, GA (CH); Kevin Quiles, Canton, GA (CH); Mark Spain, Canyon Lake, TX (CH); Todd Walter, Inman, SC (CH); Sara Williams, South Africa (FP) 25 Jade Acker, Uganda (FP); Bryan Cottrell, Sahuarita, AZ (CH); Gary Nistler, Columbia, SC (CH) 27 Ken Chapman, Jefferson City, MO (CH); David Gladson, Pendleton, SC (CH); Amy Karriker, Great Falls, MT (CH); Joshua Witt, Jefferson City, TN (CH) 28 Aaron Glenn, Los Angeles, CA (FP); Lynda Schupp, Flower Mound, TX (CH); Megan Whitley, 2002, Spain (FPC) 29 Phil McCarley, Charles Town, WV (CH)
7 Duane Binkley, De Soto, KS (FP); Laura Foushee, Japan (FP); Wade Rowatt, Louisville, KY (PC)
30 Phyllis Borchert, Oakridge, TN (CH); John Emmart, Stoughton, WI (CH); Layne Rogerson, Winterville, NC (CH)
15 Tolly Williamson, Decatur, GA (CH)
8 Marian Boyer, Nottingham, MD (CH); Isaac Pittman, 1999, Miami, FL (FPC)
16 Rebecca Hewitt-Newson, Glendale, CA (CH); Kelsey Kearns,
9 Stuart Collier, Vestavia, AL (CH); Michelle Norman, Spain (FP)
31 Dale Cross, Lawrenceville, GA (CH); Larry Davidson, Goshen, AL (CH); William Davidson, Wetumpka, AL (CH); Tim Madison, Fort Worth, TX (CH)
14 Roger Bolton, Conyers, GA (PC); Iris Dickerson, Chester, SC (CH); Charla Littell, Burlington, NC (CH)
that drives us to be active. Scripture is filled with the admonition to rest! Exodus 23:12, Exodus 31:15, Psalm 37:7, Isaiah 14:7 to name a few. Bo Prosser Jesus talked about CBF Ministries Coordinator rest (Matthew 11:28-29) and was constantly withdrawing from the crowds to recharge (Luke 5:16). Sabbath time reminds us that it is God
fellowship voices The lie of payday loans By Steve Wells
of his money to pay off the loan. He had a payment due, so he went to the lender to explain that his paycheck would come the following Monday. Since he no longer had rent or utility payments, he would be able to pay the loan in full in four days, if only the leader would give him an extension over the weekend. Friday came and the man loaded everything he owned into his truck to take to the storage facility only to discover the lender had camped out at his apartment complex. The lender patiently waited there for him to put his possessions in the truck. Aware that their contract specified that if the vehicle was repossessed all the contents of the vehicle became property of the lender, it was then that the lender repossessed his truck. Bereft of everything, the man had to walk to the homeless shelter. So why is this a problem that should compel churches to get involved? Psalm 82 asks us, “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” How long? We are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers. And your neighbors, your brothers and sisters, are being lured toward a treacherous trap even as you read these words.
CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE LEADING PHOTO
hroughout your city, sharp and deadly traps are being set for the most vulnerable and desperate around you. We need to disable these traps before they snap shut, ruining even more lives. Payday and auto title lenders promote themselves as a simple and convenient path for people to overcome a one-time cash shortage. Did your car break down? Take out a loan, get it fixed and pay it off when your check comes in. Need extra cash for your child’s school supplies? No credit check required. What they promise, in alluring language, is a loan. What they deliver is a lie. Payday lenders charge annual interest rates as high as 800 percent. The standard charge in Texas is $22 in interest and fees for every $100 borrowed — and that amount is repeated every two weeks!
These predatory lenders, by design, count on their “customers” being unable to fully repay the loan at the end of the two weeks. In fact, more than three-fourths of their profit comes from people who wind up taking out 11 or more loans per year — meaning the lenders’ business model is to lure people in, then sell them loans to pay back loans. It eventually and almost inevitably leads to repossession of all collateral. Therein is the lie. Payday lenders are obligating their victims to a cycle of debt that comes from the need to continually roll over the old loan into a new one. In my city of Houston, Texas, payday lenders drain our city of around $240 million per year in fees. They also repossess 140 cars per week (35,000 per year in Texas alone). A man in Waco, Texas, took out a title loan on his truck and found himself trapped in this downward debt spiral. He realized he would never get out from under this burden unless something changed and so he made the decision to move into a homeless shelter to free up all
Steve Wells is pastor of South Main Baptist Church, a CBFpartner congregation in Houston, Texas. fellowship!
Give and Serve CBF prays to #EndHunger By Aaron Weaver
he Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joined with partner Bread for the World, the Catholic Church and other faith groups in prayer to end world hunger on Dec. 10, 2013. Pope Francis, in conjunction with Caritas Internationalis, issued a worldwide ‘wave of prayer’ against world hunger that began at noon, Dec. 10, on the South Pacific island of Samoa. Churches and individuals from across the Fellowship participated in this ‘wave of prayer’, and CBF staff in Decatur, Ga., gathered for prayer at noon. The CBFblog (www.cbfblog.com) featured prayers from CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and Mark Buhlig of Together for Hope, CBF’s rural poverty initiative, as well as a 20-part blog series highlighting the stories of CBF churches, ministry partners and field personnel working to #EndHunger in their communities. Read the series, titled “At the Table: Baptists Fight Hunger,” at www.cbfblog.com/series. CBF’s hunger ministries can be found in 20 nations across four continents. The CBF Offering for Global Missions (www. thefellowship.info/ogm) supports field personnel working to #EndHunger in more than 10 states in the United States and in 19 other nations around the world. These hunger ministries provide emergency food assistance to countless individuals and families, including those affected by human trafficking in Macedonia, Syrian refugees seeking safety in Turkey and Syrians trying to survive in their homeland. Macedonia — Emergency food assistance for families affected by human trafficking
Day of Prayer to end hunger
Hunger ministries supported by the CBF Offering for Global Missions
Join CBF as we pray and serve to end hunger around the world
Turkey — Syrian refugees as well as other displaced people are assisted with food and water San Antonio, Texas — Emergency food and clothing closet for students at Baptist University of the Americas Philippines — Food and water for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan Syria — Food distribution to Syrians in Syria through a local church Lebanon — Food packages are distributed to Syrian refugees and others in and around Beirut Slovakia — Emergency food aid in Vazec, food programs in Lucenec and Cinobana Czech Republic — Food costs for a Give to the CBF Offering for Global Missions, which makes possible the work of field personnel and their efforts to #EndHunger, at www.thefellowship.info/Give/ Donate?fund=GMOF5. Serve with CBF. Learn about opportunities to serve at www.thefellowship.info/serve.
summer camp for Roma students Food distribution and feeding programs are another area of emphasis for CBF. From providing food packages to the Dom in Israel and Palestine to meals for Albanian immigrants to families in Barcelona, Spain, still recovering from that nation’s economic crisis, CBF field personnel are focused on ending worldwide hunger. Canada — Community food box program in Chateauguay, Quebec Spain — “Kilos of Care,” a food distribution program in southern Spain provides food each week to 100 families Greece — PORTA’s Buke and Bekim, “Bread and Blessing,” feeds and encourages Albanian immigrants in Athens Israel and Palestine — Food distribution among elderly Dom people in shantytowns Romania — A lunch program at the Ruth School in Bucharest provides a daily lunch for 220 Roma students Spain — Food distribution in Barcelona to families suffering from the economic crisis China — Meal subsidies for children with cerebral palsy in Nanning Kenya — Early childhood feeding program in eight locations in Kenya,
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY
GET INVOLVED PARTNER WITH CBF TO
HELP END HUNGER 14.5%
Americans (14.5%), including 16 million children, live in households that lack consistent access to adequate food
of the world’s population suffers from insufficient quality or quantity of nourishment for proper health and growth
feeding 500 children each day The CBF Offering for Global Missions also supports numerous ministries addressing the problem of hunger here in the United States. Waterbury, Conn. — Weekly food ministry for homeless and low-income individuals/families Fredericksburg, Va. — Latinospecific food pantry for first-generation immigrant families St. Louis, Mo. — Facilitation of a food pantry for immigrants from Slavic backgrounds in the Greater St. Louis-area Northeastern North Carolina — Distribution of 850 monthly food boxes to families in Halifax County, 7-day-a-week soup kitchen, community garden, daily bread give-away to the elderly
Join CBF and other faith-based groups in a “Global Wave of Prayer,” not just today but every day at thefellowship.info/pray
Read stories on our blog about how CBF churches are fighting hunger locally and globally at cbfblog.com
Financially support CBF hunger ministries and help increase their impact by giving to the Offering for Global Missions at thefellowship.info/OGM
Danville, Va. — Weekly open meal and weekly breakfast, “Roving feast” Homestead, Fla. — After-school feeding program, community garden, supplemental food distribution, summer meals Miami, Fla. — SNAP (food stamps) recertification assistance, youth dinners, school snacks, meals on teacher planning days Texas — Together for Hope has helped a colonia church construct a building in Parr that receives food for distribution in Progreso Mitchell, S.D. — Weekend snack program delivers 250 weekly packs to four local elementary schools; Tree of Life Ministries provides free hot meals to residents of Rosebud Reservation, the
second poorest county in the United States Bridger, S.D. — Chickens and coops provide eggs for the community of Bridger Other efforts to #EndHunger by CBF field personnel include: Ethiopia — Sustainable living groups Moldova — Garden seed project North West Africa — Small animals are raised and distributed and drip irrigation gardens installed in poverty stricken areas of arid regions Southeast Asia — Home gardens for tsunami survivors South Africa — Chicken coop and gardens for widows San Francisco, Calif. — Food distribution during holiday season to refugees
Leading CBF into a vibrant future Three women selected as CBF state/regional coordinators
n the span of one week last November, three women were named as coordinators
of state and regional CBF organizations: Terri Byrd (Alabama CBF), Phyllis Boozer (Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast) and Trisha Miller Manarin (Mid-Atlantic CBF). Prior to their selection, no woman held the position of state/regional coordinator. These women represent intergenerational women’s leadership within the Fellowship, and the timing of their appointments marks a shift and movement to a new era of Fellowship leadership.
By Meredith Holladay
On Nov. 8, 2013, the Coordinating “I’ll never forget the first CBF General Council of Alabama CBF unanimously Assembly I went to,” said Byrd. “When I voted for Terri Byrd as its coordinator. walked into the main room for worship, I Previously, Byrd served as Alabama CBF’s knew right away that I had found my new associate coordinator for congregational Baptist home.” life and as a minister in local congregations She looks forward to opportunities in the areas of worship leadership and to lead, not just within her own specific student ministry. context of Alabama, but contributing Byrd, a bornto the collective and-bred Baptist vision of the and daughter of a larger Fellowship Baptist minister, movement. attended Mercer As Byrd begins University in her first full-year Macon, Ga., and leading Alabama Beeson Divinity CBF, she feels School at Samford blessed by those University in with whom she Birmingham, Ala. works, a group of She remembers folks “who hope being told as a for continued young girl that and renewed “there were connections to parameters to young Baptists, for how [God’s call] new ways of being was fleshed out, church together especially for and [who] are women.” Byrd’s call dreaming of ways Terri Byrd to ministry came to bring sustainable in her late 20s when she “realized the call economic growth to the areas of of God on [her] life was deeper and more greatest poverty.” involved” than she understood earlier. Meanwhile, some 1,100 miles northeast Byrd holds her Baptist identity near and and just a matter of days prior, Phyllis dear and believes that being Baptist is about Boozer was named coordinator of the being a member of a particular family. Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast, which
includes nine states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Boozer, who had been serving as interim coordinator, resides in Wilton, Conn., a place she has called home for nearly 40 years. The northeast is not a geographic region known for a significant CBF presence, though Boozer is a lifelong Baptist. She moved to Connecticut in 1974 after visiting her sister in the area many times and falling in love with the region. For 38 years, Boozer taught high school math before retiring in 2006, and since 1976 has been a member of Wilton Baptist Church, where she became the first female deacon ordained by the congregation. As the Northeast coordinator, Boozer emphasizes that much of her work is “trying to make connections with churches so they know one another and are familiar with like-minded Baptists in the area.” She is also working to establish relationships with chaplains and connect them with one another. The region that Boozer leads faces the unique challenge of its diversity and geography. Her three primary goals are to nurture and support CBF’s partnership with American Baptist Churches USA, strengthen relationships with chaplains throughout the area and focus on assisting church starting efforts. “The leadership of CBF is doing a tremendous job in being a fellowship, by doing things cooperatively,” Boozer explained. “The leadership talks once a month on a conference call to share what’s happening in our areas and ways we can partner with one another.” Boozer expresses excitement and hope for all that it will continue to mean to be a Fellowship. Trisha Miller Manarin echoes these words of hope farther down the East Coast.
Manarin, who began her duties as MidAtlantic CBF coordinator in February, claims a diverse Baptist background growing
world in true partnership work.” With a deep and abiding heart for missions, Manarin has traveled and worked in Zambia, Uganda, India and Macau, and has a passion for making connections between needs and resources around the world, fulfilling the kingdom vision of Baptists as an ambassador for Christ’s work. She finds “great joy in seeing lives transformed by the power of God while growing in faith and serving in mission and ministry side-by-side.” 2013 certainly marked the beginning of a new era in Baptist life as we witnessed women gaining a greater presence in the leadership of the Fellowship movement. This shift, according to Pam Durso, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, reflects a new wave of leadership Phyllis Boozer from CBF Executive Coordinator up in Southern Baptist and National Baptist Suzii Paynter. churches and attending an American Baptist “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that seminary. As a student at Palmer Theological three women in the last few months have Seminary at Eastern University in the midbeen named as leaders,” Durso said. “Suzii 1990s, Manarin was awarded one of the first Paynter’s style of leadership, both her warm CBF Leadership Scholarships. personality and her informed, intentional Manarin was ordained in 1997 at Trinity and fearless method of decision-making Baptist Church in have … reshaped Philadelphia, Pa., Baptist perceptions.” and has served as Durso is hopeful associate pastor of that Paynter’s McLean Baptist leadership, followed Church in McLean, by these state and Va., since 2012. regional leaders, will Her hopes encourage openness for CBF include to “embrace a new increasing model of leadership and fostering and ministry” connections across at the local and states and regions, congregational levels. as well as enriching This is indeed diversity across CBF a new era in the life, particularly the Fellowship. These geographic diversity women, representing represented by the multiple generations, Mid-Atlantic region bring new life into Trisha Miller Manarin which includes the Fellowship, and West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the along with the leadership already in place, District of Columbia. Manarin is excited to they will guide us into a vibrant future. join in as CBF continues to set a forwardlooking identity and is hopeful that the Meredith Holladay is associate pastor of Fellowship “will continue to see ourselves spiritual formation at First Baptist Church, as kingdom people by connecting to the Lawrence, Kan. fellowship!
La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Deltona esta trabajando para el
cambio social By Blake Tommey
PHOTOS COURTESY OF RUBEN ORTIZ
ooperative Baptist Fellowship churches are well aware of the state of world hunger, which currently leaves nearly 870 million of the 7.1 billion people in the world suffering from chronic undernourishment. And the hearts of CBF congregations ache for that painful sensation caused by want of food in developing nations as well as in the United States. Jim Wallis, Christian activist and founder of Sojourners magazine, once defined world hunger in a different way, stating that “two of the greatest hungers in our world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social change. The connection between the two is the one the world is waiting for, especially the new generation. And the first hunger will empower the second.”
In Deltona, Fla., La Primera Iglesia Bautista is done waiting for the connection between the two hungers and is serving its community with a vision for solidarity with the oppressed and transformation of society. Located just 30 miles north of Orlando, PIB Deltona, led by pastor Ruben Ortiz, is responding missionally to an influx of vulnerable immigrants, a host of hungry families, growing churches in the Caribbean and through a passionate partnership with CBF. From its humble founding in 1976, PIB Deltona was not always so holistic in its mission, Ortiz said, and has undergone a life-defining change since 2002 when he became pastor. “At that time the church was growing and changing from a mission of evangelism, with messages and campaigns, toward a holistic vision of the church, or what we call in Latin America, integral mission,” Ortiz explained. “Now
our mission is not only to participate in the conversion of souls, but in the transformation of society. It is not only a mission to disciple people, but to see their families grow in health and to see our community united. It is about
La Primera Iglesia Bautista contributed more than 6,000 volunteer hours to feeding local families through their local community food bank in partnership with Open Hands Ministry in 2013.
being part of one movement to change the roots of injustice and the values of a community.” As the first Hispanic church in Deltona, PIB stands in a unique position to be the presence of Christ among immigrants who seek valuable resources and information as they live and work in the United States. In responding to this vulnerable population, the church is advocating for immigration reform that stops deportation, allows for paths toward naturalization, keeps families together and ultimately removes fear from the lives of countless families. Led by pastor Ruben Ortiz, La Primera Iglesia Bautista is working for change in their community of Deltona and beyond — seeking justice and serving vulnerable immigrants and hungry families through a passionate partnership with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and CBF of Florida.
The church is also holding meetings to empower immigrant families with legal advice as well as information on health insurance, which Spanish-speaking people struggle to acquire. Immigration reform is desperately needed now, according to Ortiz. “Anything that is happening in Washington is important for us,” Ortiz said. “We need to stop deportation now. Families are being divided. Lives are being shattered. Kids live in fear every day at school and when they return to their homes, they don’t know if they’re going to find their parents remaining in the country. So we make sure to be a part of any effort for immigration reform in Florida and the entire United States.” In addition to advocating for reform, PIB Deltona is responding to the physical hunger pangs of its immigrant
community with a feeding ministry for those struggling under the weight of the economic crisis. In partnership with Open Hands Ministry of Central Florida, more than 50 church volunteers distributed meals to 350-plus families each month in 2013. The congregation dedicated a total of 6,000 volunteer hours to feeding local families through the food bank, an endeavor that would typically cost $100,000 in payroll expenses. “Someone said that either the church’s mission is holistic or it is not mission,” Ortiz noted. “As the gospel teaches us, the church’s mission is the proclamation of a truth that is physical, real and palpable in daily life. This is very clear for La Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Deltona and we have pledged to open our hands for those in need of that good news.” fellowship!
“The church’s mission is the proclamation of a truth that is physical, real and palpable in daily life.” — Ruben Ortiz
PHOTOS COURTESY OF RUBEN ORTIZ
Because of Ortiz, the church’s holistic Giving drink to the thirsty? Welcoming the Shortly after joining the Fellowship, mission also extends to the palpable stranger? Clothing the naked? Healing the Ortiz introduced Iglesia Bautista de truth found in every-day partnership, sick? Visiting the captive? That test fuels the Metropolis of Puerto Rico to CBF Florida, specifically with the Cooperative Baptist passion of CBF people.” who welcomed the church into the Florida Fellowship of Florida and its mission For nearly 10 years, Ortiz and PIB Fellowship and, as of 2010, is extending its to serve those beyond the border of the Deltona have fostered relationships with network into the Caribbean Islands. United States. more than 25 churches and missions “Floridians understand the need for Ray Johnson, coordinator for CBF in Cuba and Puerto Rico, committing partnership and fellowship in an acute Florida, recalls seven years way,” Johnson added. “The ago when Ortiz came looking world is so much bigger than for fellowship with other we Baptists or Cooperative Baptists in Florida and Baptists, and, almost as a became fast friends with natural consequence of the former coordinators Carolyn immense diversity around Anderson and Tommy us in this state, PIB Deltona Deal. With justice-oriented and the rest of CBF Florida ministry centers in Homestead have embraced what growing and Miami, CBF Florida partnerships can truly mean attracted Ortiz, who became for the mission of the church.” increasingly involved in the life Ortiz is moderator-elect of the Florida Fellowship. The for CBF Florida and continues partnership was all too natural, to involve CBF Florida in according to Johnson, as PIB reciprocal mission work with Deltona not only shared a state Puerto Rico and Cuba. In 2014, with CBF Florida but, more PIB Deltona will be developing Ruben Ortiz (far right) has helped La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Deltona importantly, shared a hunger a new community resource discover a vision for social change through relationships with churches and for social change. center, out of which it hopes missions partners throughout Latin America. “For me and for many CBF to engage the community churches, advocacy and solidarity with the financial support as well as physical in its ministry of advocacy and social oppressed gets to the heart of what Jesus labor to aid their growth. During that transformation. But in that ministry, the asks in Matthew 25,” Johnson said. “That period of support, PIB has sought ways church will not simply provide a system passage simply tells us what a follower to help those churches become selfof programs, Ortiz stressed, but will of Christ should be involved in. I call it a sustaining and extend the mission of walk with others in their journey toward ‘six-point test.’ Are we feeding the hungry? transformation. a new kingdom.
“Our mission is not only to participate in the conversion of souls, but in the transformation of society,” Ortiz said of his church. This year, the congregation will develop a new resource center to foster community engagement and aid the congregation in the gospel ministry of advocacy and social transformation.
The gospel ministry of
CBF field personnel and leaders work for immigration reform By Greg Warner
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GREG AND SUE SMITH
o one objects when CBF field personnel feed the hungry or attend to the sick. But is advocacy on behalf of immigrants and refugees also part of the gospel? For Cooperative Baptists who minister among Hispanic immigrants, the gospel means not only meeting human needs but making sure the government does its part too. “It’s justice,” said Linda Jones, missions coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, where CBF churches have been particularly proactive about reforming U.S. immigration policy. She said the mandate is biblical. “All through Scripture, it tells us to welcome the ‘alien,’ the immigrant,” Jones said.
“It’s easy to say ‘we stand up for justice and fairness,’ but it really comes down to action,” said Sue Smith, who with her husband, Greg — both CBF field personnel — founded a nonprofit organization in Fredericksburg, Va., that helps new immigrants adjust to American culture and the U.S. legal system. Immigration reform is the primary focus of the Smiths’ advocacy work. “It’s so big,” Greg said. “Who knows how much difference it can make?” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter wants to see more Cooperative Baptists advocating for immigration reform and searching for solutions to the problems that many immigrants face. “Our immigration system is broken,” said Paynter, whose pre-CBF career focused on immigration, predatory lending, antihuman trafficking, hunger and poverty.
“We have laws that don’t work anymore.” It is essential that Christians become visible advocates for immigrants and reform, Paynter said, if only because they have no vested interest. “Most voices in the public square are speaking for selfish reasons,” Paynter said. “To have voices in the public square who are speaking for someone else is pretty rare.” Looming on the horizon — and affecting immigration ministry on almost every level — is the possibility of immigration reform. The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that updates antiquated laws and improves the circumstances of the 12 million people in the United States without proper documentation. There is a push in the House of Representatives to take up the Senate bill or similar legislation. The Senate bill allows for immigrants already here to apply for temporary worker status, reducing the fears of deportation; provides a “path to citizenship” that will take immigrants 10plus years to complete; and protects the borders from illegal entry. “You have to address the systemic issues or nothing is going to change,” Jones said of reform. “Is it not justice to give [undocumented immigrants] a path to citizenship? Not the ones who have just hopped over the fence, but the ones who have lived here a long time.” CBF advocates of immigration reform like Jones and the Smiths say the greatest benefit is keeping families together.
“Most voices in the public square are speaking for selfish reasons. To have voices in the public square who are speaking for someone else is pretty rare.” — Suzii Paynter Most of the legislative proposals give preference to longtime, tax-paying immigrants who are willing to complete an exhaustive application process for legal status, pay fines and wait their turn — after applicants are already in the system. Advocates say the greatest benefit of reform is keeping families together. Immigrant families live in constant fear of deportation, which often splits them up, several field personnel said. “That’s not justice and that’s not serving us well as a nation,” Jones said. “Not all immigrants will want to become citizens. They just don’t want to be thrown out of the country!” “So many people don’t understand,” Greg Smith added, “the kind of worries and stresses that [undocumented immigrants] have each and every day — worries that documented residents and citizens do not routinely have. Worries of being detained and deported because of not having the right papers. Worries of not being paid for a job they do because of thinking — wrongfully so, but nevertheless widespread
A group of immigrant teenagers from CBF field personnel Greg and Sue Smith’s program attended Passport summer camps.
Linda Jones (below) advocates for an immigration system where families are kept united and do not live in constant fear being separated from one another.
— that undocumented immigrants have no recourse when an employer simply refuses to pay you.” The Smiths’ organization, LUCHA Ministries, helps immigrants — legal residents and undocumented ones — adjust to the “struggle” (“lucha” in Spanish) of living in a new country. LUCHA represents “the presence of Christ” by providing Latinos with English classes, school tutoring and guidance through the American legal, educational and medical systems. In recent years, the Smiths sponsored groups of teenagers from their program to attend Passport summer camps. Such an opportunity is rare for immigrant teens. But the prospect of sending their young people by themselves to a camp in Massachusetts was too scary for some undocumented parents, who feared a sudden encounter with law enforcement could leave them separated from their children. “It took a whole lot of convincing on our part to get the parents to place their
kids in our care for that week,” Greg recalled. “They had never allowed that to happen before.” Eventually the parents consented because they trusted the Smiths. “Without that trust having already been built, they would never have allowed us to take their kids so far away.” But in 2011, when LUCHA took youth to a camp in Georgia, some would not relent. “The parents were doubly concerned because of the bad press that Georgia and other southern states had (rightfully) received for some of their draconian attitudes and laws toward immigrants,” Greg said, noting an alternate site was not available. “Parents, and frankly us too, to a large degree, were concerned about their kids going to a state that was widely seen as not friendly to immigrants.” One family’s fear seemed especially justified, Sue Smith said, because the father had been deported two months earlier. He was able to return to his family only after paying a smuggler to get him in illegally. “But he lived in constant fear,”
“Though our ministries are very different, immigration and immigration reform affect all of us. We can all learn from each other.” — Sue Smith she said, “because if you get caught a second time the penalties are stiffer” — including jail time. Sending their two teenage boys away to camp in Georgia “was just more than they could take,” Sue said. “It was very sad because the parents said, ‘We just can’t do that. That could be my kid getting deported.’” “Immigration reform, at its root, is a moral issue and not simply a legal or economic issue,” Greg emphasized. The reason is because immigrants face widespread discrimination in America — “a society that happily tolerates one segment of the population living in the shadows as essentially second-class people,” he said. Immigrants encounter discrimination and profiling based not only on skin color, Greg said, but also on “accent, appearance, the kind of car you drive, the decals on the car you drive, the way your home looks, the dirty shoes sitting outside your front door — which means you are a day laborer and ‘obviously’ undocumented.” Greg Smith understands not everyone is in favor of reform or advocacy at all. In fact, the whole topic of social justice stirs strong feelings. “It’s a conversation we still need to have — what is the church’s role in immigration, deportation and national security?” he said. “Not everyone wants to have that conversation,” Greg acknowledged. For many Baptists, the gospel is about salvation, and ministry should be evangelistic. “I’m not sure that’s as much theological as it is cultural,” he said. “It’s much safer to deal on a spiritual level,” he said, because then “issues of social justice and poverty don’t come into the conversation.” As difficult as it is to accomplish politically, Greg predicted, immigration reform “will become law.” Paynter said immigration reform has a chance of passing Congress, but maybe not until after congressional incumbents get through their primary elections in late
spring and summer. She agreed that not all Cooperative Baptists are on the same page about reform but added, “We are committed to work on areas of consensus, and there are many of them.” Recently the Smiths and other field personnel who minister with Hispanics started collaborating more closely to step up CBF’s advocacy on behalf of various immigrant populations. Although there is not one CBF Global Missions team that focuses on Hispanics, field personnel are able to work together to best serve immigrants. “If we all have a little piece of this, wouldn’t we all work better if we worked together more?” Greg Smith asked. “Though our ministries are very different,” Sue added, “immigration and immigration reform affect all of us. We can all learn from each other.” “We want to strengthen CBF’s approach to immigration, not change anyone’s assignments,” Greg said. Paynter said she wants to see more of this collaborative approach — what she called a “community of missions.” In addition to the Smiths in Virginia, CBF field personnel who work largely with Hispanics include Diann Whisnand of McAllen, Texas (literacy, education and English as a Second Language); Ben and
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter wishes to see a more collaborative approach among Cooperative Baptists around areas of consensus such as immigration reform.
Leonora Newell of San Antonio (business as mission and entrepreneurship, often in low-income areas along the U.S.-Mexico border); Linda Cross, who teaches theology and leadership at the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio; Wanda Ashworth, whose clients at Open House Ministries in Homestead, Fla., are largely Latino children and families (tutoring, social ministry); Aaron and Stephanie Glenn of Los Angeles (sex trafficking and labor trafficking); Angel and Jason Pittman of Miami, who serve many Hispanic children; and Marc and Kim Wyatt of San Diego (urban internationals, refugees and immigrants). fellowship!
At Summit, Baptist leaders announce
action covenants on hunger, literacy, predatory lending
By CBF Communications t a Carter Center commissioning service on Nov. 22, innovative Baptist leaders from diverse traditions concluded a two-day summit by announcing cooperative service projects to promote literacy and combat hunger and predatory lending. Church leaders from Dallas, Birmingham,
Frederick D. Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church and George Mason, senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church, led the delegation from Dallas in a covenant to address the problem of predatory lending. The congregations will act “jointly to confront predatory lending practices that disproportionately harm the vulnerable … by educating our churches, advocating for more just laws and creating alternative credit sources that promote the welfare of the lenders and borrowers alike.”
CBF field personnel Jon and Tanya Parks minister among the Roma in Košice, Slovakia.
Ala., St. Louis, Atlanta and the Northwest United States region participated in and are part of the movement started by President Jimmy Carter in 2007 called the New Baptist Covenant. Its aim is to break down barriers of race, theology and geography among Baptists so that Jesus’ mandate in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke to proclaim good news to the poor and set the oppressed free can be realized. The projects, called “Covenants of Action,” will meet specific needs of the communities represented.
Participants from Birmingham, Ala., created a covenant to address the problem of hunger by partnering to provide nutritious food to school children who receive free breakfast and lunch during the week, but are not guaranteed food over the weekend. The group will address “the systemic issues related to food justice through an ongoing educational dialogue designed to explore our participation in finding solutions to end hunger in our community.” Atlanta participants announced a covenant of action focused on literacy among youth through “reading initiatives, increasing the number of public computer labs in churches and by sponsoring workshops and training for parents on 21st century parenting. Participants from St. Louis and the Northwest United States region plan to release their Covenant of Action in the coming months. New Baptist Covenant National Coordinator Hannah McMahan said the New Baptist Covenant movement is about loving each other and finding ways to work side by side. “This year we have five covenant partners. They have come here to make Covenants of Action, to covenant among diverse partners who live in their communities, to live together, to work to enhance Jesus’ Luke 4 vision in their community.” She said over the next four years, “we plan to have over 100 Covenants of Action.” Organizers said this third meeting of the New Baptist Covenant accelerated the From left to right: Suzii Paynter, CBF executive coordinator; Kasey Jones, CBF moderator-elect; Aidsand Wright-Riggins, American Baptist Home Mission Societies executive director; Otis Moss Jr., pastor emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio; Hannah McMahan, New Baptist Covenant national coordinator; and Tyrone Pitts, Progressive National Baptist Convention general secretary emeritus.
The two-day summit concluded with an event at the Carter Center, where three delegations unveiled “Covenants of Action” to promote literacy (Atlanta), combat hunger (Birmingham) and predatory lending (Dallas).
movement on the local level. The inaugural celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in January 2008 brought together more than 15,000 people representing more than 30 Baptist organizations. A second national New Baptist Covenant meeting in 2011 focused on the plight of incarcerated men and women, and participants across the country were challenged to take on the difficult issue of restorative justice. Over the course of the two-day summit, participants heard presentations from renowned preacher Otis Moss Jr., and participated in conversations with panels of experts in transformative partnerships, advocacy and prison reform. David Key, Baptist studies director at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, announced plans to launch a master’s level online course geared toward students at Baptist theological institutions titled “The ART (Action, Reconciliation, Transformation) of Social Justice: Rauschenbusch, King and Carter. The course would offer an in-depth examination of Jesus’ mandate in the fourth chapter of Luke and feature a curriculum focused on the writings and contributions of five Baptists: theologian and pastor Walter Rauschenbusch who is regarded as the father of the social gospel movement; civil rights pioneers Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King; and President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. The two-day summit ended with a service of celebration and commissioning at
the Carter Center in Atlanta. Those gathered watched a video message from President Jimmy Carter who offered a word of encouragement for the group and expressed his excitement for their future work together. “I am grateful and encouraged that you have chosen to participate in the New Baptist Covenant Summit — that you are here committing yourself to the goals of action, reconciliation and transformation. The New Baptist Covenant movement is dear to my heart. For too long, racial, theological and geographic barriers have separated our Baptist family. Your work here can change that and help to usher in a new age of shared ministries and fellowship. You came here to make covenants with God and each other, lending our stories to God’s eternal narrative for hope and healing of all creation,” Carter said. Moss then addressed the group with a meditation on the persistent evil of racism in American society and the need for people of faith to work together to fight injustice. “Not enough of us are raising our voices with moral courage for love and justice. Love without justice is weak sentimentality. Justice without love is naked brutality. To pretend or believe that the light came and racism ended with the election of President Obama is like saying cancer ended with the development of chemotherapy,” Moss said. “We must forever proclaim that God is love. And love is of God.” The work and ministry of the New Baptist Covenant is supported by individual donors and from groups like the American Baptist Home Mission Societies and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Allen Temple Baptist Church of Oakland, Calif., also announced financial support at the Summit. fellowship!
A prophetic preacher An interview with the
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. By Aaron Weaver
DURING THE INAUGURAL NEW BAPTIST COVENANT gathering in January 2008, I attended the special session on prophetic preaching and had the opportunity to hear sermons from several great Baptist pulpiteers. Sitting in the crowd, a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr., caught my attention. “When we are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when we are anointed by God to preach and teach the Gospel — you don’t have to look for suffering, it will come to you in due time,” Moss preached. I returned home from the New Baptist Covenant and read up on Dr. Moss. I learned that Moss knew suffering well. As a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Moss fought Jim Crow with nonviolence. He led sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and marched for voting rights with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Selma and Washington, D.C. He was jailed a few times too. Moss was regional director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during Dr. King’s tenure as founding president and co-pastored Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church with Martin Luther King Sr. After two decades in the ministry, Moss became pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1975. Thirty-three years later in 2008, he retired from Olivet, which had become one of the largest congregations in Cleveland and known for its commitment to civil rights and social justice. Ebony Magazine has twice named Moss as one of America’s greatest Black preachers and Yale University honored him with the Lyman Beecher Lectureship on Preaching in 2004. An adviser to President Carter at Camp David and special guest of President Clinton at the peace treaty signing between Israel and Jordan, Moss was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame for his civil rights ministry here in the United States and around the world. At the recent New Baptist Covenant Summit held Nov. 21-22 in Decatur, Ga., Moss was the featured speaker (see pp. 16-17). There, at the summit, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Moss over breakfast. The following is an excerpt from our conversation. 18
You have had several notable mentors. How did these mentors shape you and your ministry? Number one, great mentors play a preventive role and a developmental role, not in the scientific sense, but in terms of shaping your own paradigm. I am sure there are great mistakes that I might have made and that we might have made, if we had not had the opportunity to literally converse with a Daddy King, a Dr. King, a Dr. [Benjamin] Mays. Nonviolence became a cause of mine and my foundational belief through mentors. The path I took in the Civil Rights Movement was shaped by mentors. My mentors [helped me] view racism morally and through a logical principle … that we all have a role in overcoming racism, but we can overcome it both with legislation and through a moral commitment by way of and through nonviolence, which is, in my belief, the way of Jesus Christ. So, my mentors helped me to see the problem [of racism] and the direct relationship of what we preach and teach on Sunday with what we practice and walk and talk on Monday through Saturday.
Here is an excerpt from your sermon at the first New Baptist Covenant gathering in 2008. “Prophetic preaching is dangerous and can get you killed. Prophetic preaching is not necessarily safe but it is saving.” What does prophetic preaching look like? I think prophetic preaching ought to begin with “Thus saith the LORD.” But that should not be surface. What is that message? What does it do to me? What does it mean for all humankind? Prophetic preaching is something that the New Baptist Covenant adopted. If you look at the 61st chapter of Isaiah, reintroduced in Luke 4, the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, he has anointed me to preach the Gospel, to set the captives free, to open the eyes of the blind and to proclaim the year of Jubilee, which began with freedom. I think that ought to be the core of our preaching and teaching from Alpha to Omega. It was prophetic preaching that created the nonviolent movement in Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta, Nashville, Tallahassee and a dozen other places. Even the students that were involved in the student movement — whether they acknowledged it or knew it or not — were really disciples of the prophetic gospel. And in the early days, in our days of the student movement, when you looked at our messages, our songs, our actions and our behavior, all of it is anchored in the prophetic gospel. Imagine young people ranging from 17 to 24 years old, all vowing to bring about significant change even if it cost their lives and willing to suffer, going to jail with their chemistry and biology books and philosophy and sociology texts and New Testament readings in their hand, and determined to continue a path of academic excellence and also present their bodies as a living sacrifice. I can imagine that. But, I’m not sure I can fully grasp that context. It’s probably the difference between — you went to Baylor — watching the game and participating in the game. Now, there is a sense of involvement if you are a dedicated fan — and I was not an athlete — but all of my friends who came away Saturday with scars and yet feeling fulfilled. It’s a lot different between being in that phase and being in the grandstand. However, we should never underestimate the role of the attendee and how they impact it, and how the game impacts them. “Everyone is eternally obligated to grapple with great ideas.” That’s a nugget from one of your sermons. What great ideas are you currently grappling with? That really is a quote paraphrased from Dr. Howard Thurman, another mentor. The greatest idea that I think has been deposited in my life is God is love and love is of God and whoever does not love, does not know God. And we might start with that Bible verse, but when we allow that to use us and allow it to become the guiding principle of all that we teach, say or do, we spend the rest of our lives grappling with what it means to be totally committed to a God of Love — not a God of entertainment, not a feel-good God. The feel-good ought to be the overflow and not the intent. So, if one is to ask these questions — what is truth? What does it mean to be redeemed in love? What is profound forgiveness?
What is the relationship between love and justice? And what happens when we separate the two? Is it possible to build a community on the principles of love, justice and reconciliation? And what happens when we do? What happens when we do not? Those are the kinds of questions that I’ve been grappling with. In your sermons, you have preached about the need to have a vocabulary of love and justice. With all the incivility in society, this strikes me as something we very much need. That vocabulary should be developed in the cradle. Before you were born, there was a play on Broadway called South Pacific with a song that said: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate. You’ve got to be carefully taught.” And if we’re not taught to love, we’re almost by definition taught to hate. It doesn’t mean that you are going to hold a hate class. And if you don’t teach love, you are by the very deficit, teaching hate — because you are leaving a void that hate fills. After marching from Selma to Montgomery and fighting for the Voting Rights Act, here in 2013, is it disheartening to know that voting rights are an issue again? In Texas, you can use your National Rifle Association ID but you can’t use your student ID. Now, I believe that’s not only immoral but it ought to be illegal. And we have to work to make it illegal. In terms of being disheartened or discouraged — YES. But, as you well know, it is not new for people to drift back into old habits. Getting out of the Egypt of oppression is not easy and people do not give up the trappings of oppression through generations. How can I put it? You can correct some things, but if human beings are in charge of mechanisms that has to be retaught from generation to generation. And if you don’t, the moment you relax, the demons that you thought you got rid of will collect other demons and come back and occupy the house. You and your son [Otis Moss III] have been called “America’s most dynamic father-son preaching duo.” What’s that like, being able to preach alongside your son? It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of ministry and I have to give my son credit because he came up with the idea. And we did it and found it to be not only an opportunity to say something together, but really an unspeakable joy-sharing. It requires extraordinary work. You have to work together and put through a concept and idea and work on developing the message and then find the time to dialogue before delivery. And that takes a lot of communication because you don’t know what’s coming out. What’s your hope for the future of the New Baptist Covenant? That it will have a leavening effect and impact the whole loaf. I don’t see it necessarily becoming the next giant denominational mega-structure. But, I do see it as an infusion of a kind of transformational presence that affects all of our denominations. fellowship!
Make plans now to attend the 2014 CBF General Assembly June 23-27 . Atlanta, Georgia
2014 CBF General Assembly Atlanta, Georgia
Woven Together Threads of faith and fellowship
A cord of three strands is not easily broken - ECClesiastes 4:9-12
Join us in celebrating how our stories as Cooperative Baptists are Woven Together with each other and with Godâ€™s mission 20
New This Year Follow these steps to get started
Step 1: Save time
onsite and preregister at thefellowship.info/assembly/ preregistration. Itâ€™s free and fast. Register children and youth too!
Step 2: Book your travel and lodging arrangements at thefellowship.info/assembly/ hotels.
Wednesday night banquet and celebration of Co-missioning Workshops focused on different approaches to worship led by Atlantaarea churches and ministers Day Camp for children (K-6th grade) led by trained Student.Go participants Leadership Institute facilitated by the newly formed Ministries Council
CBF network breakfasts including Childrenâ€™s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Peer Learning Groups, South Africa Network, Current, Haiti Network, Ministry Spouses, Hispanic Network and the HIV/AIDS Network and more Lunch opportunities with groups who share your same ministry interests General Assembly T-shirts available in the CBF Store
Faith and Fellowship Dawnings-focused Pre-Assembly Prayer Retreat Wednesday morning BWIM worship and lunch State of CBF address from Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter at the Thursday morning business session Thursday evening worship with United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young
General Assembly will be hosted and held under one roof at the newly remodeled Hyatt Regency Atlanta in downtown Atlanta, Ga.
Step 3: Plan your stay at thefellowship.info/assembly. Begin mapping out your Assembly experience by checking the event schedule and learning about what Atlanta has to offer.
Friday night communion and worship led by Guy Sayles, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Asheville, N.C.
Golf outing with friends Global goods from CBF field personnel at the Missions Market in The Gathering Place Workshops with topics like issues facing the modern church, new trends and tools in ministry, models and opportunities for mission involvement, resources for teaching and learning, personal growth and worship/music Fellowship opportunities at receptions in The Gathering Place Auxiliary events such as the Chaplaincy Lunch and meal events with CBF partners Activities for children and youth including the Atlanta Sessions for college students Wellness and fitness activities fellowship!
CBF field personnel share Christ with internationals in Houston By Carla Davis
heer out-of-this-world luck. That’s what Abdelhamid thought when he learned he was selected by lottery for an elusive U.S. visa and green card. So many around the world apply every year, and so few win. Quickly, Abdelhamid and his wife, Laila, packed up their life in Morocco and eventually settled in Houston, Texas, where the first people they met were
Butch and Nell Green. For the Greens, who serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Houston, this new friendship was not about luck. “God has brought the world to our doorsteps,” Butch said. “Refugees, immigrants and international students are our neighbors, and we have a responsibility as Christians, as churches, to reach out with the love of Christ.” To Abdelhamid and Laila, love looked like being there to pick them up from the airport when they first arrived, giving
them a place to stay until they found an apartment and helping provide necessities for their first home in America. “[The Greens] were our start here in America,” Abdelhamid said. “They have done their best to help us. Without such people life would be worthless.” Embracing a global neighborhood Every year, tens of thousands of people like Abdelhamid and Laila move to the United States. Some are international students who study for a few years and return to their home country. Some are CBF field personnel Butch and Nell (left) Green offer smiles and friendship to refugees, immigrants and international students new to Houston.
An estimated 2,500 refugees are resettled in Houston each year. The Greens see this “migration” as a blessing and an opportunity to respond to the physical and spiritual needs of their new neighbors.
immigrants who choose to relocate for employment or family. And others are refugees who are forced to resettle because of violence, poverty or other unrest in their own country. “We have to realize that God is not only giving us an opportunity in this migration, but a blessing,” Nell said. “Our churches will be better for seeing it, embracing it and reaching into it.” In Houston alone, an estimated 2,500 refugees resettle every year. Most start with little to nothing, arriving with only the clothes on their back. Agencies like Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IMGH) help transition refugees to their new home by providing assistance with housing, English and culture classes, job placement and basic needs like furniture and kitchen utensils. The Greens partner with IMGH and serve as cultural guides and emotional support for new refugees. “They come with a lot of questions, expectations and fear — but also a lot of hope,” said IMGH program assistant Lizeth Zavala. “They’ve been through so much that they’re willing to start a new life.
But starting anew can be tough. Resettlement agencies often help during a refugee’s first three months in the United States. After that, “too often they’re just left floundering,” Nell said. Most still need help finding jobs, learning English, getting around town and understanding American culture. Christians and churches can help fill this void, and part of the Greens’ ministry is equipping individuals and congregations to do just that. Tallowood Baptist Church, a CBF-partner congregation in Houston, has collected furniture for refugee families and school supplies for refugee children. Church members have also made welcome baskets filled with food and other gifts. “No matter who you are, everybody wants to be needed, welcomed and feel comfortable in their new environment,” said Tallowood member Debbie Connally, who also teaches English classes for refugees. Just across the city another CBF partner, South Main Baptist Church, is also reaching out to its global neighbors. When a young Muslim woman visited South Main and wanted to know more
about Christianity, Amy Grizzle Kane, the church’s minister to adults, called on Nell as a resource. “Nell and I took the young woman to lunch to get to know her and talk with her more about her faith. It was phenomenal the way and the depth that Nell could connect with her,” Kane said. “It’s really a wonderful testimony to the missions work that CBF is doing when we can participate with field personnel and see ministry at work.” Reaching out to Muslim neighbors Many of the people the Greens minister among are Muslim. An estimated 150,000 and counting Muslims call Houston home, and the Greens have experience and a passion for empowering churches to reach out to their often-misunderstood Muslim neighbors. “Muslims are real people with real feelings,” Butch said. “They laugh. They cry. They want the best for their families. They want the best education for their children. They want to have a good life — to be a part of the community.” fellowship!
“We have to realize that God is not only giving us an opportunity in this migration, but a blessing. Our churches will be better for seeing it, embracing it and reaching into it.” — Nell Green
Many members of Clear Lake Baptist Church in Houston would now agree. When the church offered a video simulcast on how to reach out to their Muslim The CBF Offering for Global neighbors, they didn’t expect Missions makes possible the 50 local Muslims to come ministry of the Greens. “When that night. At the end of the somebody walks through my garage and picks up a presentation, the audience Farsi-English Bible, that’s the looked so perplexed that Offering,” Nell said. pastor Glenn Young invited the Christians and Muslims to turn to each other and just ask questions. “We dismissed and for the next hour my congregation sat and discussed their faith with these Responding to needs members of Muslim mosques,” Young For the many refugees, immigrants said. “I had a lady in my congregation that and international students who come to came to me and said, ‘I loved this event. Houston with dreams, there are some I see Muslims around me all the time; I for whom Houston is a living nightmare. never spoke to one until last night.’ Since The major transportation hubs that that time, it’s just opened the door to new make Houston a center for diversity also relationships.” make it a center for human trafficking And God often opens those doors at (also known as modern-day slavery). just the right time. Like the Christmas It is estimated that one in four human that the Greens brought a young Iranian trafficking victims in the United States international student to church for the first pass through Houston at some point in time. They looked over during worship and their trafficked life — whether it’s through saw her crying. Later she said it was the the major port, international airport most moving experience she had ever had. or Interstate 10. A mile from Interstate 10, designated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Butch and Nell Green as a human trafficking corridor, is Tallowood Baptist Church, where church member Robin Moore leads a prayer group that meets on the 10th day of each month at 10 a.m., right in front of Interstate 10. “Some call it the major slave route for trafficking, and we know that it is an unseen battle that we cannot solve on our own,” Moore said. “So we gratefully rely on God to end it and to allow us to participate.” The Greens help educate churches on human trafficking and what they can do — whether it is praying, advocacy or creating care packages for law enforcement 24
officials to distribute among potential trafficking victims. “We live in a day where we can do something about it,” Nell said. “And that’s what I hope to do through the very small efforts and partnerships we have, is make a difference that will finally once and for all end slavery.” Gifts that make ministry possible For all the life-changing ministry the Greens are part of in Houston, none of it would be possible without individuals and churches who give to the CBF Offering for Global Missions that supports the Greens and 130 other CBF field personnel. “When somebody comes into my home and sees 15 international students there for dinner, that’s the Offering. When somebody walks through my garage and picks up a Farsi-English Bible, that’s the Offering. When somebody sees me on a Monday afternoon teaching English, that’s the Offering,” Nell said. “The CBF Offering for Global Missions gives me the tools to invest in these relationships.” So, please give to the CBF Offering this year but do not stop there, Nell said. Give of yourself — whether it is among internationals or others in your community. “That, too, is the greatest contribution.”
Upcoming CBF events 2014 CHURCHWORKS CONFERENCE February 24-26 — First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.
ChurchWorks! provides opportunities for ministers to discover new ideas and meet others who are also in vocational ministry. The conference combines worship and small group time into a setting where ministers develop a deepened understanding of their ministry and how it relates to their church environment. Whether you serve in a traditional church setting or create aspects of church in non-traditional settings, come for a time of networking, renewal, fellowship and learning. The event is designed for young leaders and Christian educators of all ages. www.thefellowship.info/churchworks
ADVOCACY IN ACTION
March 10-12, Washington, D.C. Join the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on a three-day journey in Washington, D.C., with the following goals: • Get to know CBF advocacy partners in our nation’s capital • Develop a biblical basis for advocacy • Learn how to be an effective advocate — locally, nationally and globally • Connect with a D.C.-area congregation to experience local church advocacy www.thefellowship.info/advocacy
PRACTICING RESURRECTION: CALL OF THE SHORE April 21-24 - Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Resort, Naples, Fla.
Come the week after Easter to kneel, to walk and to pray along the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Fla. This experience of rest and renewal begins Monday, April 21, at 3 p.m., and continues through lunch on Thursday, April 24. After sharing morning prayers, you will spend the day in the wonder of God’s good creation, enjoying life’s simpler pleasures of sitting on the beach, deep sea fishing, biking, a round of golf, sea shell hunting and some laid back Florida beach chair conversation. Each evening we will gather after dinner to relate how our re-creation has nourished our souls. www.thefellowship.info/practicingresurrection
CBF advances advocacy efforts, begins work with ethicist as theologian in residence By CBF Communications
n a panel discussion at the New Baptist Covenant Summit in November, Stephen Reeves defined advocacy simply. “It’s speaking out for others,” said Reeves, who joined the staff of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in October as its associate coordinator of partnerships and advocacy. After a summer that saw Cooperative Baptists speaking out on issues such as immigration, Reeves’ presence at CBF has advanced the Fellowship’s advocacy work into the issue of predatory lending and eventually will expand this work into a partnership with the Baptist World Alliance at the United Nations. Reeves is leading advocacy efforts on issues related to the organization’s eight mission communities, which are areas through which CBF engages individuals, field personnel, churches and ministry partners. The communities include Education, Economic Development, Healthcare, Justice and Peacemaking, Church Starts and Faith Sharing, Internationals, Disaster Response and Poverty and Transformation. David Gushee joined Reeves and CBF in January for a one-year term as theologian in residence. A national and international writer, scholar and advocate, Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He is serving as a partner and resource to help CBF communicate the important theological and biblical underpinnings of its work. “My task is to help CBF staff and the Fellowship as a whole to think deeply about theological and ethical issues, especially those most relevant to our advocacy work,” Gushee said. “This fellowship of congregations and believers, like any other one, needs clarity about who we are in Christ, what it means to be Christ’s faithful people and how and why such faithful Christian people engage culture, 26
society and public life.” CBF state and regional organizations, congregations and pastors have been active this year in speaking out on behalf of others. David Gushee Last April, a coalition of ministers affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina gathered at First Baptist Church, WinstonSalem, N.C., to urge Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. And in July, Wendell Griffen, pastor of New Millennium Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., joined fellow clergy from across the theological spectrum in a news conference on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol calling for broad immigration reform. “We are not here to endorse any specific bill or any particular process,” Griffen said in his remarks at the news conference sponsored by the Evangelical Immigration Table. Instead he urged members of Congress to ensure that reform includes “biblical principles and fundamental American values.” That same month, CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter called for Congress to enact immigration reform at a forum at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. “Immigrants in faith communities have been active in every aspect of congregational life and mission outreach,” Paynter said. “Yesterday’s immigrants are today’s leading pastors, theologians and compassionate missionaries. Immigrants are teaching and learning English and citizenship in classes at more than 500 churches across Texas. They are serving as chaplains in the armed forces, in hospitals and hospice.” “Our challenge is to update and align our laws to protect our country, to enable potential and talent and to unite families,” Paynter said. In addition to speaking out on behalf of immigrants, CBF has joined with ministry partners and partner congregations to become a leading voice opposing predatory
or payday lenders, who trap consumers in a never-ending cycle of debt with their unethical and usurious lending practices. CBF staff has joined conversations with pastors of CBF-partner congregations and leaders of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Comptroller of the Currency. In October, Christian leaders from several southern states met and prayed in front of ACE Cash Express, a local payday loan store in New Orleans, La. Several Baptist leaders attended the event hosted by Willie Gable of Progressive Baptist Church, including Reeves, Frederick D. Haynes III, senior pastor of FriendshipWest Baptist Church in Dallas; and Steve Wells, pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston. Haynes and George Mason, senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church, led a delegation from Dallas at the New Baptist Covenant Summit in November at the Carter Center in Atlanta. These pastors created a covenant to address the problem of predatory lending as part of the movement started by President Jimmy Carter in 2007 to break down barriers of race, theology and geography among Baptists. The congregations will act “jointly to confront predatory lending practices that disproportionately harm the vulnerable … by educating our churches, advocating for more just laws and creating alternative credit sources that promote the welfare of the lenders and borrowers alike.” For his part, Wells testified before the Houston City Council and met with Houston Mayor Annise Parker about a proposed ordinance to increase oversight over predatory businesses. And these advocacy efforts and those of other predatory lending opponents are making a difference. In a huge victory, the ordinance passed the Houston City Council, 15-2, and the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. issued guidelines Nov. 21 aimed at protecting consumers from the predatory lending practices of banks.
tephen Reeves joined the CBF staff as associate coordinator of partnerships and advocacy in October after serving as director of public policy for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission in Austin, Texas. Below is a brief Q&A with Reeves about CBF’s advocacy efforts.
What is advocacy? Advocacy is speaking out on behalf of others. It is taking their concerns and making them your own. While this certainly includes the arena of public policy — of making the case before Congress, a state legislature or a city council as to why their action on an issue can help people — it is much more than that. Our field personnel across the globe are advocates too, whether advocating for a refugee, an immigrant or someone dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster. An advocate may be seeking justice via systematic change in society or justice and fairness for a specific individual. Why is faith-based advocacy important for CBF? There are already many advocates within CBF life. People who have a calling to help others and improve communities. This applies to field personnel, but also to pastors and ministers of missions in local congregations as well as laity. Members of churches across the Fellowship are already committed to important issues like health care, education, hunger, missional business and so many others. But, it is important to have a voice of advocacy at the national level because it says a great deal about who we are as a fellowship of Baptist Christians seeking to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. We are thoughtful, compassionate Christians putting the needs of others before ourselves. What better way to demonstrate the love of Christ? And we do not advocate alone. Advocacy must be in collaboration with others. Advocating on issues of common concern is how faith communities work together. National denominational representatives and faith leaders work
together through coalitions, where they find agreement, to raise awareness and a shared moral voice appealing to the conscience of our elected officials on important issues. What are issues that CBF is already addressing and plans to address? As Baptists, Stephen Reeves (right) gathered with Baptist leaders, including Otis Moss we have long Jr. (left), at the New Baptist Covenant Summit, Nov. 21-22, 2013, in championed freedom Atlanta, Ga., to discuss advocacy and issues such as hunger, predatory lending and literacy. and the conviction that no one Baptist We are also fortunate to have a can represent or speak for the views of all strong partner in Washington, D.C., on other Baptists. There are, however, issues religious freedom here in the United on which there seems to be a “consensus” States in the Baptist Joint Committee for within CBF life. Religious Liberty. With field personnel CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii located around the world, we anticipate Paynter has already provided leadership international religious liberty issues will around the issue of immigration reform by be a part of our efforts and the Baptist working with the Evangelical Immigration World Alliance will be another stronger Table, a broad-based and extremely diverse partner to count on. The BWA’s Division of coalition of Christian leaders. Freedom and Justice led by Dr. Raimundo CBF staff member Devita Parnell Barreto has been very active on this represents the Fellowship on the board of front, including through work at the Bread for the World, a widely-respected United Nations. Washington, D.C.-based organization These are issues that are being addressed committed to ending global hunger. and will continue to be addressed. My I have been involved in addressing the job is to help raise up the voices of problem of predatory lending, specifically advocates already busy at work among payday and auto title lending reform. It is a problem that is particularly acute in the South both churches and individuals in the Fellowship, to connect them and help and an issue that congregations and other them to be more effective. Additionally, faith organizations have historically tended our field personnel, both international and to ignore. That is changing though. And this domestic, working in our eight mission problem of predatory lending is one that is energizing a growing number of our churches communities will raise issues of concern for us to address. and pastors to be advocates and take action. fellowship!
Diann Whisnand serves
immigrants in Rio Grande Valley with literacy ministry
PHOTOS COURTESY OF DIANN WHISNAND
he two overriding needs of Hispanic immigrants in the United States are learning English and navigating the U.S. legal system, said Diann Whisnand, CBF’s first field personnel along the U.S.-Mexico border. Although Whisnand’s assignment is broad — long-term development to reduce poverty — she focuses on teaching English and job skills to residents of the colonias, the tiny hard-scrabble barrios that dot the Texas side of the Rio Grande river. For new immigrants, “the automatic barrier is language — it affects everything they do,” Whisnand said. “It’s a big barrier
By Greg Warner
that keeps people in poverty.” Spanish speakers can function comfortably in the Rio Grande Valley, where almost 95 percent of the population is Hispanic. But that becomes a trap, Whisnand said. “They can live out their lives speaking only Spanish, but they can’t get a job, or get out of the lowest-paying jobs,” she said. “Then you’re stuck. You’ve just got to know some English to get a good job, even a sales job at the mall.” Even within families, conflict results when not everyone can speak English, she continued. Children of immigrants — including undocumented ones — go to public schools and learn English. “When
you speak two different languages in your house, the kids become withdrawn from the parents,” Whisnand said. “Parents can’t help kids with homework or read report cards,” she said. As the children get older, “it’s easy for [drug] cartels to recruit them to do their dirty work because of the barrier.” When she and her husband, Phil, moved from Seattle to McAllen, Texas, in 2011, she discovered a shortage of language-learning opportunities. So Whisnand works with the local Pharr Literacy Center to expand those options. About 800 adults take classes at the Pharr Center annually, where volunteers teach adults five levels of English, offer
Diann Whisnand, CBF’s first field personnel along the U.S.-Mexico border, works with the Pharr Literacy Center and a team of volunteers (right) to expand literacy options to adults in the Rio Grande Valley.
GED classes and teach some job skills. In addition to teaching, Whisnand recruits local churches to provide volunteer teachers. After learning English, Whisnand said, the next most important need for immigrants is legal assistance with the maze of government paperwork that immigrants face in becoming legal residents or citizens. Although in Texas and some other states, legal documents are available in Spanish, new immigrants still struggle with the legal system. “Just because it’s in Spanish doesn’t mean you can understand the legalese,” she explained. Immigrants are especially vulnerable to exploitation from other Spanish speakers who claim to offer help with government paperwork, particularly to get legal residency. Since Mexican residents are used to paying for government documents, they are easy prey for the unscrupulous. “All they are doing is taking their money,” Whisnand said. “They are taken advantage of for thousands of dollars.” What they need is free legal services, she emphasized. And if immigration reform passes, opening new ways for immigrants to get legal status, the number of people needing help will increase. Only one church in the McAllen area offers those services to the needy, Whisnand said. More are obviously needed. But it’s an expensive undertaking for a church or nonprofit because it usually involves hiring lawyers — something few churches or nonprofits can afford to do. Suzii Paynter, CBF’s executive coordinator, wants to change that — not only in the Rio Grande Valley but nationwide. With years of experience ministering and advocating on behalf of immigrants, Paynter wants to make it easier for churches and individuals to offer legal assistance to immigrants. And she foresees a long-term commitment of CBF in this area of ministry. As former director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Paynter directed all Texas Baptist public policy initiatives for state and federal issues. The stakes are high in the complicated and tricky immigration process — an
The most important need for immigrants after learning English, Whisnand says, is legal assistance. Immigrants need help navigating the immigration system to become legal residents or citizens. Whisnand and CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter want to make it much easier for churches and individuals to become involved in this type of legal aid ministry to immigrants.
application filled out incorrectly can result in deportation. While most churches can’t hire a lawyer, individuals can get accredited by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration Accreditation to become immigration advisors to those seeking legal status, confronting deportation or other legal issues. “I want to make this kind of training available to CBF churches to pursue this ministry,” Paynter said. At the Texas CLC, she was involved in combating “scams and unscrupulous lawyers” who promise legal assistance to needy immigrants. “They charge them $6,000 to $7,000 when the answer is going to be no,” Paynter said. Churches can organize early retirees, military retirees and others to become immigration advisors, she said. Other congregations can hire a lawyer to give legal advice one day a month. Meanwhile, it’s important also to offer English classes,
life skills, citizenship classes and other education-related ministries. Paynter cited Iglesia Bautista Cristiana in McKinney, Texas, as a model church. Pastor Alex Camacho started out helping Hispanics fill out immigration applications. He later got BIA accreditation, a degree in immigration law and founded Immigration Services, a nonprofit that represents hundreds of immigrants each year. Paynter said immigration ministry will be an important part of the Fellowship’s future. In addition to more churchbased ministries to aid immigrants, she wants to see more cooperation with ecumenical groups, such as the Evangelical Immigration Table, to advocate to improve immigration laws, and more attention to the plight of refugees and human trafficking worldwide, by cooperating with the Baptist World Alliance to influence the United Nations. fellowship!
Missions Education Resource How to use this page
The suggestions below will be helpful for using the stories on pages 13-15 and 28-29 of this issue in the life of your church. Small Group interaction, Study Group and Reading Group options are given, as well as suggestions for other congregational or family settings. Go online to www.thefellowship.info/affectonline for more suggestions.
Immigration & Advocacy
In Small Groups: The following is an outline for adult mission groups, Bible study classes or other small groups. Share copies of fellowship! with group members prior to the meeting and have extra copies available. These suggestions are for a 45-minute time frame.
1. This session centers on immigration reform advocacy across the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Gather copies of this issue of fellowship! for participants and read the article titled, “The gospel ministry of advocacy: CBF field personnel and leaders work for immigration reform” on pp. 13-15 to prepare for the discussion. 2. Ask if anyone recognizes this quotation: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door” (a poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty). Invite participants to discuss the power of this poem to immigrants entering the United States. 3. Observe that while immigration issues have become more complicated today, the call to help the “alien among us” has not changed. Ask someone to read Exodus 22:21, another Leviticus 19:34 and one more to read Hebrews 13:2. 4. Say, “These verses ask us to reach out to the foreigner and the stranger. While CBF folks may differ about the best approaches to immigration reform, Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter says, ‘We are committed to work on areas of consensus — and there are many of them.’” 5. Explain that one way some in the Fellowship live this out is through advocacy on behalf of immigrants. CBF field personnel Greg and Sue Smith formed LUCHA (Spanish for
“struggle”), a nonprofit organization in Fredericksburg, Va., designed to help new immigrants adjust to American culture and legal systems. 6. Share that “LUCHA represents the presence of Christ by providing Hispanics with English classes, school tutoring and guidance through the American legal, educational and medical systems.” The goal is that these “aliens among us” not be “mistreated” or “oppressed” (Exodus 22:21, NIV) or discriminated against.
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Join CBF as we pray and serve 7. Note that for believers, immigration and immigration to end hunger around the world reform have moral and spiritual dimensions, as well as legal and economic ones. Ministries like LUCHA help immigrants adjust to life in America. Spurred by scripture, numerous CBF field personnel and affiliates work with immigrants and refugees. Hunger ministries supported by the CBF Offering for Global Missions
8. End with a prayer for our leaders, both spiritual and political, who deal with immigration, immigration reform and immigrants. Pray that God’s will be done so that the “alien” and “stranger” are treated justly and fairly.
At Home: With the Kids 1. In preparation, read the article about Diann Whisnand, one of CBF’s field personnel who serves in McAllen, Texas, on pp. 28-29. This conversation centers on Whisnand’s work with Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley. 2. Ask, “Does anyone know what river divides Mexico and the United States?” Explain that the Rio Grande river is the boundary between the countries. 3. Then ask what language people speak in Mexico (Spanish). Explain that English is the most common language of the United States, but when many people first come to America, they don’t yet know English. 4. Say, “Think of all the things you would have trouble doing if you didn’t speak English.” Invite them to brainstorm: you wouldn’t understand the TV news or read directions or fill out school or medical forms or talk with your doctor or even know how to ask for help. 5. Explain that Whisnand lives right near the Rio Grande and helps teach many newcomers to America how to speak English. If they learn English, they can get a job more easily, talk with their children’s teachers and their coworkers and ask for the help they need. 6. Ask, “Do you know anyone at school who is learning English? How could we help someone who is new to America?” (Invite them over, help them at school, ask them to sit with you at lunch — answer any questions they have). 7. Invite the children to join you in a prayer for all the newcomers to America as they learn English. Pray for Diann Whisnand and all field personnel who help teach English to immigrants.
Serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission
In Reading Groups Risky Marriage: Reflections from Tanzania on HIV and Intimate Relationships by Melissa Browning Browning looks at data that shows that for many women in East Africa, marriage has become a risk factor for HIV rather than a means to protect them from the disease. Through a year of fieldwork in Tanzania, Browning listens to the stories of women and offers some solutions to HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa.
Missions Education Resource How to use this page
The suggestions below will be helpful for using the story on pages 22-24 of this issue in the life of your church. Small Group interaction, Study Group and Reading Group options are given, as well as suggestions for other congregational or family settings. Go online to www.thefellowship.info/affectonline for more suggestions.
In Small Groups: The following is an outline for adult mission groups, Bible study classes or other small groups. Share copies of fellowship! with group members prior to the meeting and have extra copies available. These suggestions are for a 45-minute time frame.
1. This session explores the work of Butch and Nell Green with internationals in Houston, Texas. Gather copies of this issue of fellowship! for participants. Read the article on the Greens on pp. 22-24 to prepare for the discussion. 2. Begin with, “CBF field personnel Butch Green observes, ‘God today has brought the world to our doorsteps ... Refugees, immigrants and international students are our neighbors.’” Ask the group how they have noticed this truth in their daily lives (a Latino festival in town, people speaking another language at the store, an ethnic grocery store opening). 3. Explain that Butch and Nell Green serve in Houston, Texas, where about 2,500 refugees settle annually. Explain that these refugees have fled their home countries because of poverty, violence or instability. Note that international students and immigrants also come to the area for education and work opportunities. 4. Invite the group to brainstorm about what type of help an international newcomer might need in their first year in the United States (learning English, adjusting to the culture, learning to shop, pay bills). Share that refugee assistance from resettlement agencies usually ends after three months. 5. Say, “That’s where individual believers and churches can have a great impact.” Explain that the Greens help equip individuals and congregations to reach out to and support refugees and immigrants. Help can take the form of housing assistance, furniture, home-
making donations and even welcome baskets filled with gifts and food.
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6. Observe that when Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt to escape Herod, they were refugees (Matthew 2:13-15), dependent on the help of others in their new home. Say, “They would have needed help to learn the language, find shelter and food and locate work.” Note that the same truth applies for immigrants and international students — and anyone new to America — too.
Serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission
7. Read aloud the section titled “Responding to needs.” Invite participants to imagine introducing someone to the love of Christ for the first time.
Hunger ministries supported by the CBF Offering for Global Missions
Join CBF as we pray and serve to end hunger around the world
8. Close by sharing this quotation from Nell Green: “We have to realize that God is not only giving us an opportunity in this migration [of internationals to the U.S.], but a blessing ... Our churches will be better for seeing it, embracing it and reaching into it.” End with a prayer for the work of the Greens and the call of your congregation in serving the refugees, international students and immigrants at your doorstep.
In Worship: A Mission Moment 1. To prepare, read the article on CBF field personnel Butch and Nell Green in Houston, Texas, in this edition of fellowship!. The mission moment will focus on their work with refugees and immigrants. 2. Read aloud Matt. 2:13-15. Say, “Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus were refugees fleeing Herod’s murderous plot and seeking safety in a new land.” 3. Explain, “As refugees, they arrived in Egypt with no experience of the language, culture, business practices or resources. They would have been dependent on those around them for help adjusting to their new home.” 4. Transition by saying “Butch and Nell Green serve as field personnel in Houston, Texas, where refugees settle by the thousands each year. The Greens welcome refugees and immigrants with help navigating American culture and connection to local resources. They show God’s love to people resettling in America, just as the Holy Family resettled in Egypt years ago.”
In Reading Groups Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel In this book Eboo Patel tells his story of growing up Muslim in America as well as his own journey toward embracing religious pluralism. Founder of Interfaith Youth Corps, Patel shares stories from his work and suggests that when we come together to serve together, we can become agents for change in our society.
5. Explain that the Greens also train and equip individuals and congregations to serve refugees and immigrants. Share about Tallowood Baptist Church collecting furniture and school supplies for refugee families and creating welcome baskets of food and gifts. Tell about Clear Lake Baptist Church where an unexpected visit from neighborhood Muslims became an opportunity for a deeply personal interfaith dialogue. 6. Wrap up by sharing what happened the Christmas the Greens brought a young Iranian international student to church. “They looked over during worship and saw her crying. Later she said it was the most moving experience she had ever had.” 7. Remind the congregation that giving to the CBF Offering for Global Missions supports the work of the Greens who reach out to internationals and equip partner churches to do the same. End with a prayer thanking God for the opportunity to serve refugees and immigrants, just as others served the refugee Holy Family long ago.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030 www.thefellowship.info • (800) 352-8741
We’ve got Georgia on our mind
And we hope you do too! General Assembly 2014 - Atlanta June 23-27, 2014 www.thefellowship.info/assembly/preregistration Cooperative Baptist Fellowship