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A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship •



2 COR. 5:14

Christ’s Love Compels Us Toward the Future

The following is the afterword to “CBF at 25: Stories of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” a new book released June 22 at the 2016 General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of CBF. Order your copy at

A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Volume 26, Number 4

Augutst/September 2016

Fellowship! is published 6 times a year in Feb./March, April/May, June/July, Aug./Sept., Oct./Nov., Dec./Jan. by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Inc., 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500, Decatur, GA 30030. Periodicals postage paid at Decatur, GA, and additional offices. USPS #015-625. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Fellowship! Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030. EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR Suzii Paynter ASSOCIATE COORDINATOR, FELLOWSHIP ADVANCEMENT Jeff Huett EDITOR Aaron Weaver GRAPHIC DESIGNER Travis Peterson ASSOCIATE EDITOR Carrie McGuffin ASSISTANT EDITOR Candice Young E-MAIL PHONE (770) 220-1600

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Christ’s love has compelled us — each one of us — on a journey of faithful and adventurous obedience. These essays speak of the incomplete but elegant connection that is the work of God’s creative hand among our very lives and the churches gathered in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. They ask us to attend to and visualize ourselves as a constellation of witnesses. We are many voices and many hearts being called and drawn toward the center of our common life in Jesus Christ. In the foreword, Daniel Vestal recounts the story of the 1990 Consultation of Concerned Baptists that would birth the Fellowship. My late colleague and dear friend Phil Strickland was there and said of the beginning, “We are going to a meeting in Atlanta that has to do with the renewal of the Christian Church in America.” The emerging Fellowship would indeed become a community formed by narratives of authentic faithfulness and hopes for renewal of individual Christian disciples and renewal of the Church. It will continue on the same God-given journey.

SEEDS OF THE FUTURE The CBF story is relevant and full of surprising gifts because it is grounded in the greater Gospel story. We are not the creators of spiritual gifts nor the blessing of Christlike loving, but we acknowledge the bounty given to us and seek stewardship into our future. The strength of a fellowship is in its aspirations and the authenticity of mentors, pastoral inspiration, friendship and common purpose in mission across miles and times. The blessing of community is also a signpost of hope in the valley of our shadows. During both the light and dark, CBF has been a community of imperfect but strong spiritual connection. Outwardly, CBF connections have been characterized by sincere ecumenical friendship across the larger Christian community and with positive collegiality in interfaith endeavors. In a context of increasing religious pluralism here in the United States alongside the expanding

SUZII PAYNTER is Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziiSYP.

outreach of the Global Church and world religions, CBF will invest toward diversity in our leadership and deeper, productive ecumenical and interfaith connections. The near future calls for a public witness of common purpose for biblical justice, an amplified voice for religious liberty and the healing of racial divides.

CHRIST AND THE CHURCH ARE THE CENTER; CBF IS THE SUPPORT CBF pioneered the structure for a global organization of churches and individuals to provide identity and collective missions based upon a network that serves Baptist Christians and churches. In 1990-1991, I served on the Interim Steering Committee that would give rise to the CBF Coordinating Council. Our discussions were deliberately exhaustive because everyone was keenly aware that we were building the enabling structures from the ground up and that (for better and worse) structure begets potentials. This is true of our past, and it will be true of our future. Now, sitting in the Executive Coordinator chair and navigating the 21st century religious landscape, I believe it is clear that the flexible expressions of connectional life expressed in our Fellowship are firm enough to provide organizational structure. Yet these flexible expressions are also nimble enough to allow for adaptation and restructuring. Rather than aspire to be something else, CBF is a denomi-network and is defining its identity as such. Central to this identity is the practice of friendship among individuals and partnership with other, mostly autonomous organizations. This is a genuine web of diverse organizations that are both autonomous and interdependent and charting a course into a changing future. Loose affiliations and independent funding of partners allow for partnerships to come and go. The evolving nature of the collection of CBF partners is not accidental but intended to change and to add vitality to CBF as new and varied partners are explored for scale, strength and common Christian aspiration and impact. There are

always tensions for funding when so many organizations coexist, but the priority of freedom, referenced so often throughout CBF at 25, is reflected in this partnership paradigm. CBF will extend this sustainable model by exercising the art and practice of faithful friendship and collaborative partnership.

THE FUTURE AS UNAPOLOGETICALLY GLOBAL CBF has reaffirmed a primary commitment to cooperative global missions, continuing the tradition of Baptists that have been forming together for more than 200 years to make disciples of all nations. The CBF endeavor of cooperative missions is complex, substantial and long term. This is co-missioning. It is not cheap, nor is it the kind of venture that can be run for the coins in your car cup holder. This type of 21stcentury Christian engagement is worth the lives of our partners and field personnel, and it is worth our serious investment. The Gospel task — bringing the word that God is with us, Imago Dei and Missio Dei — is not “just another charity.” It is a way of being, a way of living and a way of sharing God’s love and the witness of Christ. This is eternal. CBF is embodying mission distinctives to offer Cooperative Baptists a common framework for local and global mission engagement based on the following commitments: • Cultivating Beloved Community — to love and empower people. We cultivate communities of reconciliation and hospitality that serve as instruments, signs and foretastes of the Kingdom of God. • Bearing Witness to Jesus Christ — to speak of and show Christ. We bear witness to the Gospel through words that invite faith in Jesus and actions that embody the way of Jesus. • Seeking Transformational Development — to use assets to make meaningful change. We seek to transform systems that suppress the capacity of individuals and communities in order to recognize, claim and celebrate the God-given gifts of all people and places. Field personnel serve in many places across the United States and around the world. Through their leadership and church engagement, our Global Missions enterprise puts its focus in three broad contexts:

• Global Poverty — Cooperative Baptists seek sustainable responses to systems of poverty that devalue life and diminish the image of God. • Global Migration — Cooperative Baptists extend hope and hospitality to those who are driven by circumstance or drawn by opportunity away from their homes. • Global Church — Cooperative Baptists befriend Christians from around the world to share and receive gifts and to engage in God’s mission together through worship, fellowship, education and service.

LISTENING TO, CARING FOR AND FINDING TOMORROW’S CHURCH At the core of our Fellowship is the journey of forming together. We are each moving within our time — we are on a pilgrimage that includes decline and hospice and renewal and movement toward our spiritual home. How do we find tomorrow’s Church? The answer, of course, is to be tomorrow’s Church. One reason to join in fellowship with CBF is for the present journey. Describing her visit to the United States, a Hungarian journalist said, “I am a reporter here in Eastern Europe. When I got a chance to go to America, I said no to your Disneyland and your Universal Studios and left my travel group because I had to see the place where people stopped a war.” She was speaking of the modest front steps of Sproull Hall at the University of California-Berkeley, where Mario Savio ignited the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. The sacred pours forth from openings we never imagined possible until we hear about it in the voices of people who have made great journeys to witness it. It has been my practice to visit CBF churches widely and often. Every week I meet people who have made great journeys to find God. The friendship, witness, wisdom, scriptural insight and care from the people and practice of their CBF church is repeated in stories of genuine inspiration, joy and healing. The sacred pours forth. The depth of an authentic faith narrative repeated by a simple witness of church members is stunning and so hopeful. They are true followers of Christ. The congregation may be limping in another way, but undoubtedly the miraculous and beautiful manifestation of tomorrow’s faithful Church resides in us. Chances are it will not be found

at Disneyland or its ecclesiastical equivalent. It is our mission to tune our ears to the work of the Holy Spirit and amplify the beautiful strength in the Church right where we are, with new and diverse fellow pilgrims. Nurturing this journey is not an institutional given but a process of honest sharing and a practice of blessing the important transformational moments of God at work, even if they are not the headline events. There is no doubt that the need to manifest God’s kind of love is urgent in our context of objectification, hate and despair. “For God so loved the world that he gave his son” is a radical message and a simple call to bring love, compassion and humaneness to bear everywhere. CBF churches are responding to their communities with lifechanging — if not always headline-making — ministries. We need the help that comes from those also committed to Christ-like living to navigate our course. I am certain that tomorrow’s Church will grow from the seeds and good soil that are already here, but likewise not many new pilgrims will be drawn to Christ because a church is focused on celebrating its past. In comparing the American church to the Chinese church, a lay pastor in Chengdu said, “Perhaps the U.S. church has been more comfortable being the loaf, not the yeast.” We are in for a yeasty future. God has called us into this time and is asking something creative, fragrant and dynamic of us. CBF is committed anew to supporting and equipping churches, pastoral leaders and young Baptists for tomorrow’s Church. As the Fellowship, we have shared aspirations for lives of spiritual vitality and peace, for renewal of the Church in our time, and for discarding the encumbrances that would hinder us from God’s great realm that is both at hand and yet to come. We all need a journey, and we all need a home.



2016 GENERAL ASSEMBLY At the 2016 General Assembly Cooperative Baptists celebrated 25 years of CBF and looked forward as Christ compels us into the future

FROM THE EDITOR For 25 years, Christ has compelled the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to renew God’s world through life-changing missions and ministries, and during the 2016 General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., nearly 2,500 Cooperative Baptists came together to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Fellowship. Through worship, workshops, fellowship and celebration, we reflected on our 25-year journey together while looking ahead to the future. We prayed together, remembering those who lost their lives as victims of mass shootings in the United States over the past year. And we dreamed together as the Assembly enthusiastically endorsed a renewal plan to ensure the long-term presence of CBF field personnel serving in 30 countries. On the cover of this issue, you will see Elias Crosby, a chaplain at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, as he is commissioned and anointed with oil by Chaplain Rachel Hunt Hill, who serves as chair of the CBF Council on Endorsement. “Pay attention to this moment,” said CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter as the Assembly laid hands on newly-commissioned chaplains, pastoral counselors and church starters. “You will bless this stranger into ministry. It is an act of faithfulness to the body of Christ.” This faithfulness to being the body of Christ has been the spirit moving within the Fellowship for 25 years. Read more about the 2016 General Assembly and celebrate with us as we look to our next 25 years together.




CBF AT 25: STORY OF A NAME Read an excerpt from the new volume CBF at 25: Stories of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship By Aaron Weaver


TRANSLATING HOPE CBF field personnel Kirk and Suzie bear witness to Christ in Thailand By Blake Tommey




AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at

CARRIE MCGUFFIN is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at

BY WATER AND THE WORD By Bill Leonard An essay from the edited volume CBF at 25: Stories of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

30 AFFECT: AUGUST 2016 Bearing Witness in Thailand

31 AFFECT: SEPTEMBER 2016 CBF at 25: Story of a Name


prayerspeople of the

Praying Visually! By Bo Prosser


oo often the preacher has said something like, “Everyone bow their heads and close their eyes, I want us to pray…” This familiar and humble posture is meaningful. Sometimes though, we need to lean into other prayer practices to enrich our prayer lives. So these next few weeks, try praying visually. Think of your favorite Bible verse and then search online for an image that corresponds to the verse. Or, use a family picture, a painting or an image that might remind you of this verse. Then pray. Pray for where you see yourself in the picture. Pray for the image of Christ that emerges as you interact with this picture. Perhaps you are using a favorite artist’s rendering; pray for what you can see and what you cannot see in this image. Perhaps, you don’t want to use a painting or a photo, but prefer some other image. The “vehicle” of prayer is only important as a tool to motivate you into the prayer experience. As you are praying for yourself and interacting with Christ, pray one other prayer, “Lord, why did you impress upon me this painting or photo or image? What do you want me to see in this?” Then listen with your eyes and ears wide open! We know that patiently listening and waiting is just as important as asking. Truths will emerge about yourself and about the picture that will encourage and challenge you. For the final movement of this prayer experience, pray for one of the names listed here. You might even be able to find a picture of them online or in past issues of fellowship! magazine. If so, all the better! Pray for God’s blessing on them as you include them in your “prayer picture.” Pray for God to bring them nurture, guidance, strength. Ask God to bless this person with whatever they might need today. You might even build a “prayer album” filled with pictures of people that you’re praying for, a picture of your church, family members, whomever and whatever crosses your mind and heart. Sometimes, praying with our eyes wide open helps us see God’s handiwork in our lives in a whole new way!

BO PROSSER is the CBF Coordinator of Organizational Relationships. Follow him on Twitter at @BoProsser.

CBF Ministries Prayer Calendar

CH = Chaplain FP = Field Personnel FPC = Child of Field Personnel GMP = Global Missions Partner PC = Pastoral Counselor CST = Church Starter S = CBF Staff



1 Steven Safreed, Waynesville, NC (CH) Stephen Saunders, Live Oak, TX (CH) 2 Mike Beach, Knoxville, TN (CH) 3 Mina Podgaisky, Ukraine (FP) Scott Uzzel, Marietta, GA (CH) Mary Ellen Yates, Louisville, KY (PC) 4 Hannah, 1999, Thailand (FPC) Paisley, 2012, Southeast Asia (FPC) Mark Pruitt, Martinsburg, WV (CH) Diane Stamey, Clyde, NC (PC) Matthew Wysocki, Augusta, GA (CH) 5 Susan Allen, Midway, KY (CH) John Henson, Shreveport, LA (CST) Ronald Howard, Tuscaloosa, AL (CH) Donald Lederer, Kingsport, TN (CH) Mary, Thailand (FP) John Oliver, Durham, NC (CH) 6 Larry Hamm, Greenwood, IN (CH) Deborah Jenkins, Novato, CA (CH) 7 Merrie Harding, Orlando, FL (FP) Vernon Westenbroek, Columbia, MO (CH) 8 Janée Angel, Belgium (FP) Donald Robinson, Spring, TX (CH) Jon Wyatt, 1995, Raleigh, NC (FPC) 9 Elizabeth Sample, 1998, San Francisco, CA (FPC) 10 Elliott Sample, 2004, San Francisco, CA (FPC) 11 Robbie Byrd, Fayetteville, NC (PC) Justin Murphy, Leesburg, FL (CH) Karen Rector, Jacksonville, FL (CH) 12 Charline Berry, Baltimore, MD (CH) Chris Boltin (S-Decatur) Rudolfo Rodriguez, Kernersville, NC (CST) 13 Clyde Angel, Indianapolis, IN (CH) Rodney Bolejack, Denton, TX (CH) Thomas Dougherty, Mechanicsville, VA (PC) Martha Kate Hall (S-Georgia) Wayne Maberry, Alturas, FL (CH) Fortino Ocampo, Siler City, NC (CST) Johnny Taylor, Plano, TX (CH) 14 Mike, Southeast Asia (FP) 15 Daniel Shadix, Prattville, AL (CH) 16 Don McNeely, Emeritus (FP) 17 Joe Moffitt, Wetmore, CO (CH) Susan Rogers, Jacksonville, FL (CST) Anna Sample, 2001, San Francisco, CA (FPC) 18 Ben Craver, San Antonio, TX (CH) Ron Fairley (S-Decatur) Thomas Riley, Wilson, NC (CH) Brickson Sam, Charlotte, NC (CST) Fran Stevenson, Fremont, CA (FP) 19 Jennifer Graham (S-Decatur) Kaela Ruble, 1998, Southeast Asia (FPC) 20 Joyce Cleary, Emeritus (FP) Reid Doster (S-Louisiana) Jim Ivey, New Albany, IN (CH) 21 Inetta Taylor-Shuetz, Lubbock, TX (CH) Alice Tremaine, Corbin, KY (CH) 22 Doug Brown, Franklin, IN (CH) Daniel Hix, Maryville, TN (CH) Ana Podgaisky, 2001, Ukraine (FPC) 23 Mike Bumgarner, Norman, OK (CH) Keith Little, New Bern, NC (CH) Allen Williams, Rising Star, TX (FP) Richard Woodall, Memphis, TN (CH) Marc Wyatt, Raleigh, NC (FP) 24 Timothy Boschen, Waynesboro, VA (CH) Craig Klempnauer, Hewitt, TX (CH) Brian Wilson, Louisville, KY (CH) 25 Arville Earl, Emeritus (FP) Robert McMillan, Oklahoma City, OK (CH) 26 Cindy Ruble, Southeast Asia (FP) Alan Tyson, Rogers, AR (CH) 27 Bernie Calaway, Franklin, NC (CST) Jenny Clore (S-Virginia) Jim Kirkendall, New Orleans, LA (CH) Verr Dean Williams, Rising Star, TX (FP) 28 Randal Walton, Lynchburg, VA (CH) 29 Pam Foster, Haslet, TX (CH) 30 Teresa Darnell, Louisville, TN (CH) Becky Buice Hall (S-Decatur) Christiana Liem, Houston, TX (CH) Karen Sherin, Mitchell, SD (FP) 31 Karr La Dickens, Emeritus (FP) Michael Pimpo, Grayslake, IL (CST) Cecelia Walker, Montgomery, AL (CH)

1 Terry Eddinger, Winston-Salem, NC (CH) Lucy Hearne, 2013, Danville, VA (FPC) Bisser Ovcharov, Dallas, TX (CH) Milton Snyder, Milledgeville, GA (CH) Ralph Stocks, Romania (FP) 2 Bob Coons, Owensboro, KY (CST) Ruth Cuellar, Newnan, GA (CST) Dennis McDuffie, Atoka, TN (CH) Sara Moran, Greer, SC (CH) 3 Jenny Jenkins, Haiti (FP) Ann Owen, Viera, FL (CH) 4 Vicki Lumpkin, Greensboro, NC (CH) Shirley Massey, Chapel Hill, NC (CH) 5 Eddie Aldape, Spain (FP) Kelly Belcher, Asheville, NC (CH) Roger Benimoff, Grand Prairie, TX (CH) Becky Brannon, Gainesville, GA (CH) David Brown, France (FP) David D’Amico, Emeritus (FP) Alexandria Geovanni, Iowa, LA (CH) David Julian, Dublin, GA (CH) 6 Carla Cherry, Worthington, OH (CH) Daniel Edward Tatum, Marietta, GA (CH) 7 Martha Harper, Madison, MS (CH) Lee Hendricks, Greenville, NC (CH) Lita Sample, San Francisco, CA (FP) 8 Daniel Hall, Pineville, KY (CH) Jody Harrison, Dallas, TX (CH) Trey Lyon, Atlanta, GA (FP) Chad Mustian, Dallas, TX (CH) 10 Timothy Brown, Dublin, GA (CH) Nancy Campbell, Kansas City, MO (CH) Matthew Hallenbeck, Liverpool, NY (CH) Rick Jordan (S-North Carolina) 11 Courtney Hester, Cartersville, GA (CH) Larry Hovis (S-North Carolina) 12 Ryan Berlin (S-Decatur) Bryan Lake, Cumming, GA (CH) Andrew Gee, Marietta, GA (PC) 13 Richard Morris, Lebanon, PA (CH) Scot McCosh, Hope Mills, NC (CH) Alan Redditt, Georgetown, KY (CH) 14 Bart Grooms, Birmingham, AL (PC) Priscilla Howick, Jacksonville, FL (CH) 15 Rebecca Holmes, 1994, Netherlands (FPC) Brandy Mullins, Manvel, TX (CH) 16 Dick Allison, Hattiesburg, MS (CH) Jeff Ellison, Rowlett, TX (CH) Karen Heistand, Jacksonville, FL (CH) Byron Johnson, San Diego, CA (CH) Charles Leggett, Lawton, OK (CH) 17 Angela Clark, Matthews, NC (CH) Jean Craddock, Lexington, KY (PC) George Rossi, Columbia, SC (CH) 18 Susan Barnett, Green Valley, AZ (CH) 19 Larry Baker, Commerce City, CO (CH) Josiah Maas, 2007, Belize (FPC) Wanda Ashworth Valencia, Homestead, FL (FP) 20 David Bluford, Lenoir City, TN (CH) Renée Owen, Marietta, GA (CH) Tanya Parks, Slovakia (FP) Robert Randolph, Swannano, NC (CH) 21 Mark Flores, Lynchburg, VA (CH) 22 Kim Chafee, Virginia Beach, VA (CH) Josh Reglin, Tahoka, TX (CH) Becky Shoaf, Atlanta, GA (CH) 23 Bo Prosser (S-Decatur) Donna Seay, Baltimore, MD (CH) 24 William Stewart, Seabeck, WA (CH) 25 David Christensen, Brownville, NY (CH) Angel Pittman, Miami, FL (FP) 26 Randy Brookshire, Greenville, SC (CH) Sunny Mitchell, Milwaukee, WI (CH) Keith Parker, Brevard, NC (PC) Beth Sexton, Lincolnton, NC (CH) Lynwood Walters, Gainesville, FL (CH) Gloria White, Pearland, TX (PC) 27 Cathy Anderson, Kennesaw, GA (CH) Peggy Johnson, Hurst, TX (CH) 28 Renate Kruklis, Braselton, GA (CH) 29 John Harris, Pelham, AL (PC)

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“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all.” 2 CORINTHIANS 5:14

OCTOBER 16-23: JOIN US AS WE CELEBRATE OUR FOUNDING AND OUR FUTURE! In 1991, Christ’s love compelled a group
of courageous women and men who supported Baptist principles to found the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It is that love that continues to compel CBF to live into our vision to be a beloved community, bearing witness to the gospel in partnership with Christians and churches across the nation and around the world. Twenty-five years later, we celebrate this founding and our bright future together.

During the week of October 16-23, churches, partners and Cooperative Baptists around the world will celebrate CBF’s 25th Anniversary through special worship services and events. You and your church are invited to join us.

Visit to download videos, Bible studies, prayers of blessing, a litany of celebration, and other resources to help you or your church plan a special service or event.

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Bayshore embraces celebration of storied past, ministry future By Jeff Huett Alex Gallimore had only stood in the pulpit at Bayshore Baptist for a single Sunday when something monumental happened at the historic church in Tampa, Fla. In a transformation reminiscent of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, on his second week as pastor, Gallimore and members of the church donned 1920s attire and celebrated the church’s 90th birthday. Actually, more than a celebration of 90 years, this was a celebration of a connection being forged between Bayshore’s storied past and its future in ministry. “It was extremely helpful for me to celebrate with the congregation, hear them tell stories and see the pictures about what Bayshore has been through the years,” Gallimore said. “It’s easier to stand in the pulpit and see how the future of Bayshore will relate to the past. It made my first few weeks seamless.” As planning got underway for the event and knowing that a new day was on the horizon with Gallimore’s arrival, “the church wanted to celebrate and look to the future,” he said. “On a day when we’re remembering our past, we’re stepping into the future.” To help Bayshore celebrate, church members organized a Saturday mission project, a Sunday worship service and a reception straight out of the 1920s. The Saturday family mission project included multiple generations of members working together to share the love of Christ with people in Tampa.

Sunday worship featured Ray Johnson, coordinator of CBF Florida, and CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter. “Suzii was the perfect choice to help lead our celebration because she is leading CBF into a new day,” Gallimore said. “It’s a new day for Bayshore and a new day for CBF.” Founded in 1926, Bayshore was launched in a new neighborhood, unique in that it was across the river from downtown Tampa. “We have sought to maintain our reputation as being a city church located in one of South Tampa’s anchor neighborhoods.” As the church prepared for its birthday, members found a newspaper clipping from very early in the congregation’s history. The headline called Bayshore a “Church for the City.” It has always been and will continue to be a welcoming community of faith in action, he said. “Bayshore is a church that rolls up its sleeves and puts the love of Christ into action,” Gallimore said. “It’s an active congregation that wants to make a difference spiritually and socially.” It’s also a congregation that values working with others, and the celebration reflected that. “Bayshore was early to the CBF party,” Gallimore said. “In 1993, Bayshore connected with CBF as its sole identity partner. “That’s who we are. Partnership is our identity. It’s CBF’s commitment to historic Baptist principles and even reaching beyond that, its seeing the possibilities for the future of what we can do together.”

When your church celebrates CBF’s 25th Anniversary, share your story or photos with us for a chance to be featured in fellowship! magazine or other publications. Post pictures to social media using #cbf25 and tag the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Alex Gallimore (left) helped his new congregation celebrate their 90th anniversary in 1920s style.

The children and youth of Bayshore Baptist enjoyed donning 1920s attire during the celebration.

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter participated in Bayshore’s celebration and spoke to the historic Tampa church, a longtime CBF partner.

Bayshore Baptist members of all ages celebrated their legacy of being a welcoming community of faith in action.

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Compelled by God’s love to seek spiritual and social transformation through Jesus Christ, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has launched a $12-million fundraising campaign to honor our foundations by sustaining ministry into the future. At the 2016 General Assembly, CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter publicly announced the 25th Anniversary Campaign that focuses on endowment and block grants to CBF state and regional organizations.








Kirk and Suzie are a case-in-point for the impact that the long-term presence of CBF field personnel can have in a community. For 18 years, they have lived and worked among a minority hill tribe in Southeast Asia that was resistant to outsiders and Christianity, and they have recently finished translating the New Testament into the tribe’s heart language. Our goal is to increase the Global Missions Endowment to support the long-term presence of field personnel like Kirk and Suzie and reinstate a two-year mission apprenticeship program. We will impact the poorest counties in the U.S. through Together for Hope, CBF’s rural poverty initiative.

In the Highland neighborhood of Shreveport, Louisiana, a CBF church start spent considerable time deciding on a name. “We didn’t want to just be ‘of ’ the Highlands,” pastor John Henson said, “but ‘for’ — for the people, the organizations, schools, businesses and well-being of our neighborhood.” We will endow CBF initiatives and programs such as congregational renewal processes, advocacy and church starting that help form healthy churches like Church for the Highlands. We will also address economic challenges facing pastoral leaders through financial literacy education.

Working as a server pulling long night shifts to help his single mom make ends meet when he was a teenager, CBF Leadership Scholar Jeffrey Howard was angry and discouraged when the love of God softened his heart: “I was a former gang member, and Christ loved me enough to save me. Now I have the unique opportunity to serve a loving God who wants to use me to show people the love of God.” Our goal is to increase CBF’s endowment supporting ministry to young Baptists like Jeffrey through theological education, internships and ministry experiences.

Donors pledge $8.5 million as CBF launches $12-million endowment campaign By Jeff Huett GREENSBORO, N.C. — Driven by a passion to see spiritual and social transformation through Jesus Christ, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship launched a $12-million campaign on June 22 to support the long-term presence of field personnel in global missions, to help form healthy congregations and to nurture young Baptists. At the launch, generous individuals, churches and foundations have given or pledged more than $8.5 million, or 71 percent of the campaign goal. Lead contributors include the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, Christ is Our Salvation Foundation, Patricia and Robert Ayres and John and Jeanette Cothran. Nearly 80 percent of the campaign goal seeks to increase CBF’s endowments, which will help sustain CBF ministry for the next 25 years. Additional funds will support block grants to CBF’s 18 state and regional organizations for ministry in their areas. Honorary campaign co-chair Laura Anne Vick, who serves alongside Tim Norton in helping to lead the campaign, expressed her excitement about how far CBF has come in 25 years. “As we look back 25 years to the beginning of CBF, what it has become and all that it encompasses seems like a miracle,” Vick said. “Over time, both the opportunities and

needs for CBF have grown. Moving forward and spreading God’s love both at home and around the world takes greater resources. That’s why I believe this 25th Anniversary Campaign is so vital for our future endeavors and why I am both pleased and honored to be a part of it.” Anita Snell Daniels, a member of the campaign steering committee, said that the long-term impact of CBF field personnel inspires her to support the campaign. “It is a joy to be able to participate in the campaign,” Daniels said. “Twenty-five years of working and walking alongside our extraordinary CBF field personnel compels me to give. They are incredibly talented and committed to sharing God’s love and restoration to the hurting.” In addition to individual Cooperative Baptists, CBF partner congregations are also encouraged to help sustain our work together into the future. Special budget contributions, offerings, gifts from endowments or designated funds are ways congregations have given in support of the campaign. Preston Clegg, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Little Rock, Ark., said his congregation expressed excitement about supporting CBF by helping to ensure its next 25 years.

“Second Baptist-Little Rock gave to the campaign with a smile on our face and joy in our hearts,” Clegg said. “We celebrate our identity as Cooperative Baptists, and our pride in CBF’s past is only transcended by the hope we have in our shared future. We believe God is calling CBF onward and upward into a splendid future, and we saw this gift as an early investment in that glorious journey.” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said this campaign celebrates our foundations as it assists in sustaining the future of CBF. “Christ’s love compelled us 25 years ago, and it is compelling us today,” Paynter said. “Celebrating our 25th Anniversary is an opportunity to invest in the future of CBF. It’s an opportunity to invest in missions, in ministry, in our identity and in our young Baptists. It’s an opportunity to partner with other people and with other churches in support of the great multiplication of God’s work in the world.” The scale of this campaign is ambitious, but no more so than the urgency of our calling. We invite you to learn more about this campaign by visiting and support the life-changing ministries that will launch the Fellowship into the next 25 years.

You may give as a one-time gift or pledge your gift over three years.

GIVING OPTIONS: Online at Mobile: Text “CBF” to 41444. By Mail: Fill out and send in the envelope provided with your credit card information or a check payable to:

Former CBF field personnel Anita Snell Daniels, a member of the 25th Anniversary campaign steering committee, urged Cooperative Baptists to support the campaign at the June 22 launch event.

Preston Clegg, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Little Rock, Ark., spoke at the June 22 event during the 2016 General Assembly and shared about his congregation’s excitement to help sustain the future of CBF.

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship P.O. Box 102972 Atlanta, GA 30368-2972 Please write “25th Anniversary” in the memo line. By Telephone 1-800-352-8741 (Toll free) A U G U S T/ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 6

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Hearing and preaching the Gospel is hard work, noted preacher tells Cooperative Baptists on opening night of 25th Anniversary General Assembly By Carrie McGuffin and Aaron Weaver

(Above) Tom Long, Emory University’s Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Director of the Early Career Pastoral Leadership Program at Candler School of Theology, addresses the Assembly during Wednesday evening worship. (Below) Children from the Fellowship assist Ellen Sechrest, Minister of Spiritual Formation and Missions at Boulevard Baptist Church in Anderson, S.C., in setting the table to prepare for worship.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — “Making us be able to hear the Gospel and preach it is hard work,” Emory University homiletics professor Tom G. Long told more than 2,400 Cooperative Baptists during the opening night of the 25th Anniversary CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C. “It takes Jesus the liberator to do it.” Citing the Gospel of Mark and the story of the healing of a deaf and blind man, Long, who serves as Emory’s Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Director of the Early Career Pastoral Leadership Program at Candler School of Theology, offered reflections on the human condition. He emphasized that we are all this blind and deaf man. This deafness, Long explained, is that we cannot hear the Gospel, and when we cannot hear it, we in turn cannot speak it. “I know what it would take for me to hear the Gospel,” Long said. “It would take a miracle — and that is what we get. That is why Jesus encountered the man that is deaf like me and mute like me.” This hard-working Jesus, Long added, is the Jesus characteristic of the Gospel of Mark — one who is sweating, grunting, pushing and pulling, and one who is opening ears and eyes, rebuking and denouncing, exorcising demons in every situation and tearing against the chaos of powers and principalities. These same powers and principalities that Jesus faced are those we face today as we see the “manifestation of hades [rip] through our history” with chaos and tragedy all around us. These are the moments churches and leaders are facing, with a need for a hard-working Jesus, Long said. “You are all involved in ministry. You’re involved in good ministry, but you are involved in hard ministry too. Your ministry is up against the powers and principalities. But the one who is working the very hardest is Jesus Christ, walking alongside us every day saying ‘ephphatha’ — be opened.” The June 22 worship also featured a welcome from CBF of North Carolina Executive Coordinator Larry Hovis and his daughter and new CBF Missions Council member, Lauren Hovis, as they reflected together on the foundation and future of the Fellowship. Attendees to the very first meetings in Atlanta in 1990 and 1991 which birthed CBF were recognized by the crowd. Larry Hovis also recognized John and Jeanette Cothran, who have attended every CBF General Assembly as well as the two meetings in Atlanta. Gathering around the theme of creation, the table was set before the Assembly in preparation for worship, focusing on creating space to gather, creating fellowship around the table and fostering grace through God’s love. “The Table — the place we come with now and not yet — with the weight of the world, with the questions, with our theological deconstructions,” said Molly Brummett-Wudel, co-pastor of Emmaus Way in Durham, N.C. “We come knowing that even when we do not have the strength to bring ourselves to the Table, the community around us will carry us and will have faith for us. …It is at the Table where an offering of creating grace through God’s love rests.”

The emphasis on community gathered around a table of grace is a theme that will guide the Fellowship during its 25th Anniversary year: “Christ’s love compels us.” Following a video celebrating healthy churches, a prayer and blessing were offered for CBF congregations and pastoral leaders. This focus on healthy churches directly aligns with one of the goals of the 25th Anniversary Campaign — a $12-million fundraising campaign that will serve to nurture young Baptists, sustain Global Missions and form healthy churches. CBF Governing Board member Charlie Fuller, who serves as minister of congregational life and administration at Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., shared with the crowd why he and his wife, Cindy, have made a commitment to support the 25th Anniversary Campaign. “My wife, Cindy, and I believe strongly in the historical values of the priesthood of the believer, the autonomy of the local church and the separation of church and state,” Fuller said. “Therefore, our choice was not difficult. We were going to be Cooperative Baptists, and we have been since the beginning. CBF matters to my wife and me because CBF matters to the Kingdom of God. “Could it be that CBF is uniquely positioned at this juncture of American Christian history to be a means of bringing Jesus to a new and ever-changing culture? Could it be that Cooperative Baptists, because we were born questioning top-down thinking, are uniquely positioned to be that very means? I think the answer is yes.” CBF is well prepared to be the presence of Christ for a nation and world that are seeing God in a whole new way, Fuller said. “That’s why Cindy and are I are making what is, for us, a sacrificial gift to the CBF 25th Anniversary Campaign. This endowment will help to secure the future of CBF for literally generations to come. Not so that we can preserve yet another institution, but so that we can participate in the unique contributions that CBF will make in partnering with God to bring his kingdom to earth.” The Wednesday worship service concluded with a time of congregational singing and an affirmation for the future of the Fellowship led by former longtime CBF staff member Bill Bruster and Corrine Causby, who was a 2015-2016 CBF Vestal Scholar.

To learn more about the 25th Anniversary Campaign, visit For complete coverage of the 25th Anniversary CBF General Assembly including news, photos and videos, visit

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CBF Past Moderator Kasey Jones asked the Assembly Thursday morning to pray for and stand in solidarity with victims of mass shootings over the past year.

The band from Emmaus Way, a missional and activistic Christian community serving downtown Durham, N.C., led the Assembly in worship Thursday evening.

CBF Moderator Matt Cook called on Assembly attendees to rekindle the spirit which was present at the Fellowship’s founding in 1991, looking forward and following Jesus faithfully. “When Jesus says go, you go,” Cook said.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — “Risk and courage are the antidote to fear and anger,” respected scholar and author Diana Butler Bass shared with more than 2,400 Cooperative Baptists via Skype during the June 23 evening worship service at the 2016 General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of CBF. “Now, I know your journey hasn’t been an easy one,” Butler Bass said. “You weren’t really planning on taking this trip, you didn’t buy tickets for the train. It wasn’t like going on a great vacation and you weren’t planning a pilgrimage. It was an unwelcome journey. “Great journeys aren’t always easy journeys, and I honor you for being willing to go where you didn’t expect to go.” Butler Bass reminded the crowd that the Fellowship’s birth in 1991 was the beginning of a precipitous decline in the number of individuals who identify as Christians and who claim a religious identity. “What you didn’t know when the journey started and what none of us knew 25 years ago was that it might have been the worst time in American history to start a Protestant associational body,” Butler Bass said. “So I want you to know, and I want you to really hear that great journeys aren’t always easy journeys.”

Butler Bass said that Cooperative Baptists learned two important things over the past quarter century — reasons, she said, why she appreciates CBF so much. “You have learned that personal integrity matters,” Butler Bass said, adding that Cooperative Baptists have aimed to remain true to their foundations and the history that has shaped its identity. “It’s something you can look back on and cherish. You have learned that risk and courage are the only antidotes to fear and anger,” Butler Bass said. “You decided not to live in the anger, but you decided to move out and take risks. That was hard because with risk comes fear and so you have to summit courage. Risk and courage overcome anger. Personal integrity, risk and courage — those are gifts you have been given. “Thank you for showing us these gifts and how to hold on to those gifts. You have learned much along the way,” she said. The best is yet to come, Butler Bass added, noting the importance of understanding exactly “what the best is.” “[The best] is no longer the biggest church or the biggest denomination,” she continued. “The best doesn’t mean the biggest. It doesn’t mean the most affluent or the most prominent seminaries. It doesn’t mean having

theologians on the cover of TIME magazine.” The best is going deeper, going further and embracing justice and understanding what it means to be devoted to love God and love our neighbor, she noted. “Those things are the best, and you are positioned so uniquely to embrace the best. …I’m hoping that your 25-year journey has landed you right there to understand the giftedness of everything — of love, community, tenderness, kindness, peacefulness and, in a sense, of your own hearts. I am grateful for you.” CBF Moderator Matt Cook shared additional reflections commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Fellowship, challenging the crowd to think about the future and how Christ’s love compels us as Cooperative Baptists. “How many of you have that friend that seems to be just a little bit luckier than everyone else,” Cook asked the Assembly. “You know what you’re supposed to do when you have a friend like that don’t you? Go everywhere they go, do everything they do — because if you do, you know you’re going to end up somewhere fun, doing something incredible. “Here’s the thing with a friend like that: you can either stay where you are, stay where

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Religion scholar and author Diana Butler Bass joined the Assembly Thursday night via Skype, reflecting on the Fellowship’s 25-year journey. “Personal integrity, risk and courage — those are gifts you have been given,” she said.

The Thursday evening service was a time of worship, featuring congregational singing and uplifting music.

CBF Missions Council Chair Alan Sherouse encouraged the Assembly to enthusiastically endorse the new CBF Global Missions renewal strategy that has come about through a year-long collaborative process.

Judith Myers, seminary resident at Ginter Park Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., introduces Diana Butler Bass to Assembly attendees.

it’s safe, easy and predictable, or you can go where they go and experience something compelling.” This friend for the Fellowship is and has been Jesus — 25 years ago, a spirit moved a group to form CBF and we have been following the calling of Christ ever since, Cook said. The reason behind each choice, he added, was because we believed in the kind of Jesus that is like that friend — “when Jesus says go, you go.” Rather than just looking back at the first 25 years of CBF, Cook called on the Assembly to rekindle that spirit which was so present in 1991, challenging attendees to think about what the Fellowship is going to do when Jesus says “follow me.” Christ’s love compels us to go where he leads, and that may be to places we have not been or places we would never think to go, he emphasized. “If that’s where Jesus is, that is where we should be,” Cook said.

CBF Past Moderator Kasey Jones, who serves as senior pastor of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., joined leaders of the Fellowship’s 18 state and regional organizations on stage to pray and reflect on the names of those lives lost. All of the names of those who lost their lives in mass shootings in the following locations were presented during a video of remembrance: Charleston, S.C., Chattanooga, Tenn., Lafayette, La., Rochester, N.Y., Roseburg, Ore., Colorado Springs, Colo., San Bernardino, Calif., Kalamazoo, Mich., Hesston, Kan., Bethesda, Md., and Orlando, Fla. “We also lift up all of those who lost their lives through gun violence not listed here,” the video read. “We hold them and their families as well as the LGBTQ, AfricanAmerican, Muslim and Latino communities in prayer.”

new strategy to meet the needs of a new missionary situation through a commitment to the long-term presence of CBF field personnel around the world. This plan offers a simplified funding model that brings clarity to churches and equity to field personnel, Sherouse explained, pointing out that it reaffirms the Fellowship’s longstanding commitment to cooperative missions through the placement of long-term personnel and fostering close personal connections between field personnel and mission supporters. “The future of CBF Global Missions is bright,” Sherouse said. “We believe the Spirit is at work throughout the world… and with that hopeful outlook, in addition to the appointment of new field personnel, we discern new strategies for growth in this new missionary situation.”

REMEMBERING VICTIMS OF MASS SHOOTINGS Cooperative Baptists opened up the June 23 morning session of the 2016 Assembly with a time of prayer and remembrance for victims of mass shootings over the past year.

GLOBAL MISSIONS RENEWAL CBF Missions Council Chair Alan Sherouse, who serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., reported on the collaborative process of the council over the past year, as CBF Global Missions adopts a

To learn more, visit For complete coverage of the 25th Anniversary CBF General Assembly including news, photos and videos, visit

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25th Anniversary CBF General Assembly


By Aaron Weaver and Carrie McGuffin Greensboro, N.C. — The 25th Anniversary General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship concluded June 24 with a commissioning service for newly-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors, church starters, and a special celebration of CBF’s field personnel serving in 30 countries around the world. Forty-five CBF-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors were commissioned during the service, including CBF’s 1,000th endorsed person since the Fellowship began endorsing chaplains and pastoral counselors in 1997. “These men and women are partners in renewing God’s world as they embody the presence of Christ in these specialized settings,” said Gerry Hutchinson, CBF’s endorser for chaplains and pastoral counselors. “They serve because the love of Christ compels.” The largest and most diverse group of

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church starters was also commissioned, representing five of CBF’s state and regional organizations, with varying church sizes and styles as well as starters’ contexts, approaches, ethnicities and gender — all dedicated to relational and incarnational ministry. “Tonight we celebrate, affirm and inspire new dreams becoming a reality,” said Andy Hale, a CBF church starter and leader of the Fellowship’s New Church Starts Initiative. “In this space we witness the union of called individuals, representing new faith communities and a dynamic Fellowship forming together to infuse a deeper partnership in the work of renewing God’s world.” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter emphasized that the “[Fellowship] is one and we are many.” “What an impossible task it would be for one church to be in 30 countries, to minister in 45 settings, to start church families in eight

communities,” Paynter said. “Really with no great burden on any one of us, we are there. It’s holy and miraculous. We praise and honor God for using us.” Calling on the Assembly to lay hands on commissioned chaplains, pastoral counselors, church starters and field personnel in attendance, Paynter stressed to the crowd of Cooperative Baptists the importance of this time. “Pay attention to this moment,” she said. “You will bless this stranger into ministry. It is an act of faithfulness to the body of Christ.” The 25th Anniversary General Assembly concluded as attendees gathered around the table and shared communion together. “Fellowship, come to the Table, not because you must but because you may,” said Griff Martin, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas, and chair-elect of the CBF Ministries Council.

COOPERATION AND ETHIC OF LOVE KEYS TO CBF’S FUTURE Cooperation and an ethic of love are the keys to the future of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, incoming CBF Moderator Doug Dortch told the Assembly earlier in the day during the June 24 morning session. Sharing his dreams for the Fellowship, Dortch reflected on the idea that while CBF is only 25 years old, Cooperative Baptists have knowledge and wisdom far beyond 25 years of ministry to use as the denomi-network continues to evolve. “One of the things I’ve experienced in the years since I was 25 is that we are always able to accomplish so much more when we are together,” Dortch said. This spirit of togetherness is what drives the dreams that Dortch has for the Fellowship as it confronts change and takes on new initiatives like that of the Illumination Project, adopted by the CBF Governing Board earlier in the week (learn more on page 18). “My dream is that in the midst of all the conversations that are taking place in the groups around us and the conversations that we will have, is that people on the outside will marvel at what God’s people will be able to do and that the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us will continue to rejoice,” Dortch said.

“The second dream I have is that in the face of all the changes that are taking place around us that our Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will become a community of faith that will be able to manage whatever changes are before us because we are driven by an ethic of love.” This ethic of love, Dortch explained, is the love Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians — a love that never fails even in the face of change. “I dream of our ability to manage the things that are before us as we work together around the ethic of love,” Dortch said. “I dream that God will inspire us to focus on simply being what we say we want to be, focus on being faithful.” This cooperation and ethic of love, Dortch concluded, will help the Fellowship to accomplish more than it could ever dream, and the best is yet to come. Cooperative Baptists heard many reports and updates during the Friday morning session of the 2016 CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., and adopted a motion from the Governing Board to enthusiastically endorse the new renewal plan of CBF Global Missions to support the long-term presence of more than 100 field personnel serving in 30 countries around the world. The Assembly also voted to name Shauw Chin Capps

as CBF Moderator-Elect and affirmed nominations of individuals to serve on the Governing Board, Ministries Council, Missions Council, Nominating Committee, as well as trustees to serve on the boards of CBF Church Benefits and the CBF Foundation. A number of minor revisions to the CBF Constitution and Bylaws were approved, as well as a $14,175,000 revenue and expense budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which begins October 1. In other business, the CBF Ministries Council announced the formation of a task force on clergy sexual misconduct. Born from a partnership between CBF and Baptist Women in Ministry, the task force was launched in the memory of the late Diana Garland, the founding dean of the Baylor School of Social Work. The Clergy Misconduct Task Force will focus on the prevention of clergy sexual misconduct, and will formulate and distribute policies and educational resources for CBF churches. The task force will also offer resources for survivors and aim to promote healthy ministers and churches within the Fellowship.

For complete coverage of the 25th Anniversary CBF General Assembly including news, photos and videos, visit

(Left) Chaplain Rachel Hunt Hill, chairperson of the CBF Council on Endorsement, anoints Erin Lysse, a chaplaincy resident at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., with oil as Lysse is commissioned as CBF’s 1,000th endorsed person. (Below) CBF’s largest and most diverse group of church starters was commissioned during the Friday evening service at the 2016 Assembly, representing five of CBF’s states and regions.


Attendees of the 2016 CBF General Assembly enjoyed opportunities to catch up with friends and relax in the midst of a busy schedule of events to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Fellowship.

Andy Hale (left), who leads CBF’s New Church Starts Initiative, and new CBF church starter Wayne Weathers (right), pastor of Vision of Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, entered into a covenant together with the Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast.

New CBF Moderator Doug Dortch shared his dreams for the future of the Fellowship during the Thursday morning business session of the 2016 Assembly. Dortch serves as senior minister of Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

CBF Foundation President James R. Smith presented the Patricia Ayres Award of Excellence for Generous Giving to representatives from Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the annual Heritage Society Breakfast.

Assembly attendees gathered throughout the week to fellowship with one another in The Gathering Place and the Missions Market.

CBF chaplains and pastoral counselors celebrated the Fellowship’s 1,000th endorsement and talked with old and new friends during the annual CBF Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling luncheon.

John Pierce, executive editor for Nurturing Faith Publishing (left) and Aaron Weaver, communications manager for CBF, launched at Assembly the new book CBF at 25 commemorating the Fellowship’s 25th Anniversary.

Nearly 200 Cooperative Baptists gathered to celebrate 25 years of the Baptist Center for Ethics during the annual BCE breakfast, where Molly T. Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, was honored as “Baptist of the Year� for 2015.

Michelle Higgins, director of worship and outreach at South City Church in St. Louis, joined attendees of the New Baptist Covenant and CBF Advocacy excursion during the Assembly to share about how current civil rights activism is rooted in the Gospel.

Jeff Huett (left), CBF associate coordinator of communications and advancement, presents Jimmy Allen (right), coordinator emeritus of New Baptist Covenant and celebrated pastor, author, ethicist and leader, with the 2016 Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler Leadership Alumni Award.

More than 200 participants at the annual Leadership Institute heard a challenge from Emory University homiletics professor Tom Long to re-engage the New Testament epistles during the Wednesday event.

(Left to right) Darryl Aaron, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., Bill Leonard, professor of church history at Wake Forest School of Divinity, and Hannah McMahan, executive coordinator of the New Baptist Covenant, dialogue on racial justice and the role of the church.

CBF Director of Development Martha Perusek (far left) led a panel of CBF Missions Council members (left to right) Alice Mull, Mark Wingfield and Christy Edwards, on the topic of church engagement with the CBF Offering for Global Missions.

Volunteers from across North Carolina and beyond helped to make the 2016 General Assembly run smoothly, from registration to hospitality to assisting attendees navigating the conference center.

Nearly 750 Baptists gathered at the annual Religious Liberty Council Luncheon to celebrate Executive Director J. Brent Walker for his 27 years of service with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Global Women Executive Director Stacy Blackmon (right) shares in a moment of fellowship during the New Baptist Covenant luncheon. Global Women commemorated its 15th anniversary during the 2016 Assembly.

CBF’s Paynter announces Illumination Project to model “unity through cooperation” By Aaron Weaver

GREENSBORO, N.C. — At times in our nation’s religious and cultural climate when deliberative dialogue is needed most, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will seek to model the way of unity through cooperation as it develops a process of discernment and accompaniment involving CBF congregational leaders and other CBF stakeholders, CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter told the Fellowship’s Governing Board on June 21. An initiative adopted by the Governing Board called the Illumination Project aims to shed light on the qualities that have built unity in CBF, and through discernment, will identify intentional processes by which the Fellowship can maintain and grow through cooperation. The Governing Board has authorized incoming CBF Moderator Doug Dortch to appoint an ad hoc committee by the end of August 2016 to begin the implementation of the Illumination Project. “We are introducing a process not for a single problem and not for one single moment,” Paynter said. It is designed to “provide more light, less heat” in situations where the Fellowship finds itself in conflict or has differences of opinion. “The Illumination Project is designed to create models of dialogue and decisionmaking for a cooperative body,” Paynter said. “The goal, often sacrificially enabled, to seek intentional community in spite of differences has been a strong witness of CBF. “We believe that our commitment to scripture, reliance on foundational faith tenets and the lessons from our history can be used to enable new clarity regarding the process of cooperative Christian community for the Fellowship.” Paynter said the first commitment in the process is to listen to voices of the Fellowship. The Illumination Project, she

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emphasized, will employ the use of purposeful conversations and dialogue. Conversation around difficult subjects has been a strategy in the Fellowship, with many participating in conference calls in recent months with groups of Cooperative Baptists around cultural challenges from North Carolina’s HB2 law regarding the use of bathrooms in public buildings in the state to “religious freedom” legislation to LGBTQ concerns. “Purposeful conversations extend to a wide array of sectors and employ a variety of voices across the Fellowship,” Paynter said. “Sometimes those voices are voices of affinity and sometimes they are voices of diversity. “We will establish a purposeful dialogue process and will use foundational principles and operational practices under the Lordship of Christ. There is no process or project like this. We actually have to use the process of facilitation to be consistent in the manner in which we’d like to speak.” In approaching illumination, the Fellowship will consider stakeholders in matters of intentional dialogue while also considering the representative values from the wide variety and churches and global partners of the Fellowship, Paynter said. “Because CBF is a network of churches and individuals that is pervasively religious, explicitly Christian, explicitly Baptist, globally active and a mission-sending agency, the Fellowship must name the expectations and benchmarks of unity and participation within those bounds of identity.” Paynter noted the priority placed on understanding the stakeholders within the broad scope of CBF and its global partners, as well as the importance of respect for autonomous Cooperative Baptists and CBF churches. “Like the people that compose them, each individual CBF congregation has its

own DNA,” Paynter emphasized. “It is an expectation that a congregation within the life of CBF be respected for its approach to living out its calling, be appreciated for its witness to the world for Christ and be granted safety in the knowledge that differences of opinion do not detract from our ability to form together.” CBF expresses unity as a denomi-network that is cooperative but not necessarily united, Paynter said. “Our unity exists because we have agreed not to agree on everything, but to cooperate instead. So this phrase — unity in cooperation — if you are to say there is brand of unity in CBF, it is that brand of cooperation is our way of cooperation,” Paynter said. “Our unity is that way of cooperating with each other without necessarily calling for unanimity.” Historically, she added, the Fellowship has achieved unity through cooperation adhering to the Baptist principle of autonomy of the local congregation. For CBF, unity is found through focus on the four fragile freedoms; networks of relationships of individuals, congregations and global partners; governance structures which differ from traditional conventions and denominations; and robust international and domestic missions. “Our cooperation among our Fellowship is unique. We should not take this for granted as traditional denominations have been embroiled one after another in the wake of shifts that I mentioned. Implementing the Illumination Project will yield a process for more light toward the seemingly intractable issues facing CBF, the local church, global missions and partnerships here and around the world.” The Illumination Project will explore the foundational and operational principles that can guide the Fellowship as a unified

body under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Paynter said, with the aim to claim the role and purpose of CBF and explore both the opportunities and limitations of that role. Important to the process will be listening to voices from within the Fellowship, which can be the consensus voice of an entire congregation, but also individual voices, dissenting voices, minority voices and global voices. This will also involve structuring messages and voices on behalf of the Fellowship, where matters of cooperative mission and ministry require response. This includes public communication, press releases, pastoral addresses and other official CBF messages. Paynter noted that there are important and prescribed roles and processes of the Governing Board to create, monitor and review policies and funding. These rules and this project are for the benefit of the Fellowship and the witness of Christ, she said.

The following statement was adopted by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Governing Board on June 24, 2016. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a network of Baptist Christian churches and persons who come together for the purpose of doing for the Kingdom of God, so CBF is not in the habit of issuing proclamations. Most of the time it makes more sense for our churches and people to speak for themselves. There are, however, extraordinary moments in our life together when something so wonderfully good or something so unspeakably evil happens that we feel compelled to speak with a common voice. The recent mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was so unspeakably evil that it calls for a unified response from all good people of faith. CBF stands united in our grief for the senseless and tragic loss of life resulting from this terroristic attack. The callous and premeditated murder of 49 people at a gay nightclub by a zealot living out a gross distortion of Islam sends us searching for words sufficiently potent to describe its horror. And this terrorist attack came almost exactly a year after the massacre of nine African-Americans at Mother Emanuel AME Church in

Additionally, Paynter said, the Illumination Project is to respond to the impact of the cultural and historical as the moment calls it to use this illumination process at specific times for specific issues. The Governing Board can use this process at its discretion. “Controversial issues continue to painfully divide the church, in part because we lack an intentional practice of deliberative dialogue,” she noted. “Whatever conversations and processes have carried us to a certain time, there is a need to reconvene with intent as new points of stress present themselves.” Paynter highlighted recent events that have shaped the current cultural context including North Carolina’s HB2 law, a new Mississippi law that allows businesses to refuse to serve to gay couples out of a religious objection as well as similar legislation in Georgia that was vetoed, the worst mass shooting in American history at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling requiring all

states to license same-sex marriage, and a concern in Texas that pastors would be forced to perform same-sex weddings despite their conscientious objection. “In a nation of such dizzying religious and cultural diversity as the United States, clashes occur,” Paynter said. “As a denomi-network, CBF is manifesting that tension in recent discussion about the Fellowship’s hiring policy. “Can CBF be a big tent with a cooperative culture? Surely we cannot unless we are going to be intentional, prayerful and grounded and put our faith at the center, and unless we are going to be grounded in something bigger than the problem at the moment.”

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CBF Governing Board adopts statement on mass shooting in Orlando Charleston, South Carolina. These atrocities have this in common — their perpetrators sought to terrorize an entire population of people and to call others to follow in the wake of their evil actions. Violence, whether motivated by racism or religion, is an affront to the God who created each one of us in God’s image and likeness. Admittedly and sadly, the Church has been said to be tacitly complicit in the Orlando attack because some Christians have either spoken in hateful ways about LGBTQ persons or have remained silent when other people spewed hate. No more. We stand united in our belief that every person is created in God’s image and endowed with a sacred dignity that cannot be taken away. We stand united in proclaiming that God loves each person and wants all people to know God through God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. That is to say: God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto Godself, making all of us into a single family. We stand united in condemning anyone who questions the full worth of LGBTQ persons before God or as citizens of our country. We reject

any language and condemn any person who advocates violence against LGBTQ persons. CBF is not a like-minded fellowship about matters related to human sexuality; indeed, we proudly guard each other’s right to think and believe as the Spirit leads. We trust that the Spirit will lead us to reason together and that our communion is stronger for our individual convictions. The value of each person’s life and the worth of each and every person before our Creator are matters on which we find such abundant agreement, strong commitment, and resolute belief that we must speak when these truths are so brutally denied, as they were in Orlando and Charleston. To fail to do so would be to deny our common humanity and the faith, love, and hope that is ours in Christ Jesus.

Learn more about the CBF Governing Board at

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CBF AT 25 Story of a Name By Aaron Weaver

When Page Fulgham stepped up to the microphone during the last session of the Consultation of Concerned Baptists in Atlanta on August 25, 1990, he knew the group of some 3,000 moderate Baptists needed a name. The theme of the three-day gathering was “For Such A Time As This,” and Fulgham, like so many others, felt the gravity of the moment — “a feeling of euphoria in the sense that we had finally come home,” as he would describe it to me 25 years later. 20 |


For such a time as this, the pastor of nearby First Baptist Church of Lawrenceville, Georgia, leaned in to the microphone and made a last-minute motion to name the new group the “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.” Jimmy Allen, presiding convener of the Consultation, quickly responded and urged Fulgham and the attendees to refer to the new group as simply “the fellowship” for the time being. “If you name it, you might lose it,” Allen warned, alluding to the other home that the room of concerned Baptists had helped build and sustain, only to later lose to fundamentalism. Persuaded by Allen, a past president of that other home, Fulgham returned to the microphone and rescinded his motion. A formal name would have to wait for another time. “We were Baptists who were cooperating together for a mission, a cause, a purpose and, unlike our former associations, we felt a great sense of togetherness,” Fulgham explained to me, noting that the name carried with it the tradition of the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention, the single giving plan that had united Southern Baptists for decades.

“The name, I think, was good, so I made the motion. It just kind of came to me in the moment, sort of a moment of inspiration.” Over the next year, the journey to adopt the name Cooperative Baptist Fellowship took a tortuous path. Five months later, the Interim Steering Committee of “the fellowship” agreed to recommend the name “The Baptist Fellowship” to the upcoming Convocation scheduled for May 9-11, 1991, at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta. That proposal was short-lived, as the committee soon discovered that another group of Baptists had already registered the name with the Georgia Secretary of State — ironically, an independent Baptist group with past ties to the fiery fundamentalist preacher (and former Southern Baptist) J. Frank Norris. Discussion of what to formally call “the fellowship” came up again a few months later at the Interim Steering Committee’s May 8-9 meeting immediately preceding the founding Convocation. At the meeting, committee members learned that lawyers for “the fellowship” had reserved several potential names, including “Fellowship of Baptists Inc.” and “Baptist Congress.”

During the meeting, one member recommended the name “Fellowship of Cooperating Baptists” to be listed on the group’s proposed constitution. Another member asked if “cooperating” could be changed to “cooperative” — and one highprofile member said “cooperative” had become “a chain at my church.” “If we’re going to break free, I’d like us to try some new language,” the member said. Another well-known voice spoke up and expressed his unease with both “cooperating” and “fellowship”: “I no longer like the term ‘fellowship,’ and we are not at this point ‘cooperating.’” More names were suggested, such as “The Association of Baptists,” “Baptist Assembly,” “Baptist Cooperative Missions Association” and “Free Baptists.” With no agreed-upon name looming on the horizon, a five-member subcommittee was appointed to take a few hours and return with a list of three names for the committee to choose from. Later in the evening, three names were recommended: “United Baptist Fellowship,” “Fellowship of Baptists United” and “Baptists United.” With all five members in agreement,

(Top left) CBF staff smile for group photo in October 1994 at the retirement party for Betty Law (seated center). Back row from left to right: Linda Moore, Nancy Duncan, Gary Skeen, David Wilkinson, Pam Yarborough, Cecil Sherman, Ginny Ireland, Becky Buice Hall, Frank Ivey, Clarissa Strickland, Wanda Hyde (Front row from left to right) Judy Gooch Strawn, Harlan Spurgeon, Betty Law, Keith Parks, Grace Powell Freeman. (Top right) Global Missions Coordinator Keith Parks and Moderator Patricia Ayres respond to questions during a session at the 1993 CBF General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama. (Bottom left) CBF General Assembly co-chair Suzii Paynter coordinates with an exhibitor at the 1992 General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas. (Bottom right) At 2004 CBF General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama, Emmanuel McCall (left) introduces 10-year-old Erin Strnad, who brought a wagon loaded with change totaling $915 she had saved to support world hunger efforts of the Baptist World Alliance.

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and another suggesting the need to move away from the term “cooperative” and its connection to the past. Then Dunaway returned to the microphone to speak to his motion. “The word cooperative… is not a bad term. But it is the idea that we are a cooperating body… and this places the emphasis on freedom, of voluntarily committing ourselves to work together.” (Left) Emily Holladay embraces the Baptist Women in Ministry tagline, “This is What a Preacher Looks Like,” on her graduation After Dunaway was done, Vestal day from CBF-partner school McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta. (Right) Students show off their exclaimed: “Isn’t it great to be in a meeting costumes during a western themed dance in 2012 at Selah Vie, CBF’s annual end-of-summer retreat for Young Baptists. where you can talk?” The crowd began clapping, and a moment the subcommittee moved that the group the Interim Steering Committee on how later the assembly adopted the name adopt the name “United Baptist Fellowship.” they came up with the name “United Baptist “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.” They did and did so unanimously. But the Fellowship,” Ed Vick, a layman from Raleigh, “And the motion does carry. You have story doesn’t end there. North Carolina, was recognized to address voted yourself a name,” Vestal announced as Less than 48 hours later, Daniel Vestal the assembly. the clapping continued. stood behind the podium as Moderator of “In our group, we have discussed the name This story of a name is just one of the the founding Convocation, alongside lay and feel that the word ‘united’ breeds two stories of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship leader (and fellow Texan) Patricia Ayres, problems. One, the first image that comes to over the past 25 years. The stories of the and introduced to attendees the proposed your mind is our good friends the Methodists. Fellowship reflect our shared heritage and Constitution and Bylaws bearing the name And second, I don’t believe Baptists in the hope through the stories of individuals, “United Baptist Fellowship.” truest sense of the word are united. We are congregations, pastors and professors, lay As Vestal prepared the group to discuss cooperative, but we’re not united,” said Vick, leaders, young Baptists, field personnel Article 1 of the Constitution, attendees lined receiving applause and chuckles from the and short-term missionaries, chaplains and up at microphones spread out across the crowd. pastoral counselors, partners and friends. room to weigh in on the proposed new name. Next up was Mike Queen, pastor of They are the stories of being the presence of John Dunaway, pastor of First Baptist Church First Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Christ and forming together in Christ. in Corbin, Kentucky, was first up. Carolina, who joined Dunaway, pointing to When newly-elected CBF Moderator “What United Baptist means in our area the potential confusion the name “United John Hewett stood behind the podium at the of the country,” Dunaway told the crowd, Baptists” would bring in certain parts of the Omni Coliseum on May 11, 1991, to offer “is an extreme Calvinistic view, a view of country. parting words to the three-day gathering, he Baptists there who are considerably different “When I left my home in West Virginia gave voice to the Convocation’s theme — … whose concept of education is different to go to Southeastern Seminary, the United “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” He spoke from ours, whose concept of the ministry is Baptists that are part of the Queen family all of the pilgrimage that they as Baptists were different from ours, whose concept of mission prayed for me…but what they prayed for was on together: a journey to their new spiritual is different from ours, whose concept of that I wouldn’t learn anything when I went home. evangelism is different from ours. to seminary,” Queen said to loud laughter. “I am no longer worried about the future,” “To identify, in my mind, with a group “I have disappointed them, I think. What the Hewett said. “I’m convinced we are heading called ‘United Baptists,’ whether it’s simply brother from Kentucky said is true — in that someplace free and faithful.” with the term ‘fellowship’ added to it, would part of the country, United Baptists mean As we look forward to the next 25 years as be in contradiction to what we ourselves have something so radically different from who and Cooperative Baptists, may we remember the said we are, who we are and what our purpose what we are.” journey while also continuing to do bold new is,” Dunaway continued. “It would appear The debate over the name would continue things together as a Fellowship. Happy 25th to me something to the term of ‘Cooperative as two more individuals weighed in, one Anniversary! Baptists’ would include far more than this and speaking in favor of Dunaway’s motion would make possible an easier relationship for all Baptists who choose to cooperate on the (Top left) The third graduating class of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond — Class of 1995 — poses on graduation day. (Top center) CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter gives address on basis of missions, evangelism, education and “ampersand Christianity” at 2015 CBF General Assembly in Dallas. (Top right) CBF field personnel Steve ministry. James, left, offers medical care to an injured man in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake of 2010. “I move that the words ‘United Baptist’ be (Bottom left) Participants pose for group photo at CBF’s 2015 Advocacy in Action conference in amended to ‘Cooperative Baptist’ throughout Washington, D.C. (Bottom right) United States Army Major Julie Rowan, a CBF-endorsed chaplain (now the document,” Dunaway said. Lieutenant Colonel), assists an Afghan woman and her child through a line to receive humanitarian supplies at the Egyptian Hospital at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in March 2006. After an explanation from a member of

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Student.Go intern Abigail Pratt spends time with refugee children in Kampala, Uganda in 2013.



Yaungkham Pavarisorn is part of the Bisu community in Thailand and is one of the newest Bisu believers who now have a Bible translation in their heart language after nearly 20 years of ministry of CBF field personnel Kirk and Suzie.

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Kirk and Suzie have served in Thailand among the Bisu people for nearly 20 years, seeking to testify to God’s power to transform lives through literacy, Bible translation and helping the Bisu unearth a radically different narrative for their lives.


hen Por first discovered the story of God’s love and grace, all she could think about was her family. For hers and so many other Bisu families in Thailand, life seemed anything but loving and gracefilled. The family was nearly bankrupt. They had already lost their house and were on the verge of losing their farmland. They lived in a bamboo shack outside the village, rejected by their community. Por’s father spent most of his time with his mistress in another village, breaking her mother’s heart. Por’s brother wore a Buddhist amulet around his neck at all times to fend off the evil spirit that seemed to torture and choke him day after day — none worse than the night he woke up gasping for air, suffocating, he believed, under the spirit’s grip. Just as his sister had instructed him, he gathered enough breath to exclaim, “In the name of Jesus Christ, leave!” Suddenly, the weight lifted and the breath returned. When he woke the next morning, he rushed to his sister in pure elation to tell her what had happened, though Por wasn’t surprised. God is just the kind of God who gives deep breaths to choking people. She opened her Bible and told her brother the story of God’s love and grace in Jesus, and that morning he began his journey with Jesus, to know that love and grace in his own life. “I want to see people liberated,” Por said. “We all have a battle within ourselves; we fight the feelings and the guilt that is with us, but we can’t win that battle. And who is going to help us? Only God. God is the answer; God is the one who liberates us and sets us free from all the bad. This is what I want to see the most — for people to be liberated, to have a chance to know God and find real peace in this world. When we find that freedom, it makes us truly alive.” Among Por’s family and an entire Bisu community in Thailand, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Kirk and Suzie are partnering in renewing God’s world and helping people to discover

that freedom with support from the Offering for Global Missions. Through forming healing relationships as well as empowering the Bisu community with their own Bible translation, Kirk, Suzie and local partners like Por are bearing witness to Christ and being transformed by God’s great love in Thailand. Fear is embedded in the prevailing Bisu spirituality and worldview. Bad things happen because of karma — punishment for sins committed in previous reincarnations as well as this life. Pessimism is a logical result, and the Bisu feel that spiritual beings would never love them or help them without demanding a sacrifice in return. Because of this deep-rooted pessimism, rates of alcoholism among the Bisu have sky-rocketed over the past 10 years and government economic development attempts tend to fall flat. That is why, since their commissioning in 1995, Kirk and Suzie have sought to testify to God’s power to renew lives through literacy, Bible translation and helping the Bisu people unearth a radically different narrative for their lives. Ultimately, Suzie said, bearing witness to Christ among the Bisu people means pointing to the radical grace and deep love of God. “So many Bisu people live without hope,” Suzie explained. “Many of their activities are governed by attempts to keep evil spirits appeased, and there is a constant fear of doing something wrong. We sense that fear every day and it leaves them little hope for the future. Bearing witness to Christ in the midst of that fear means sharing the hope found in a God who created them, who offers them grace and who loves them so much.” Following their commissioning, Kirk and Suzie spent seven years building relationships and providing literacy training in their Bisu community, until one day they received a phone call — an entirely separate group of Bisu speakers from a neighboring country had converted to Christianity decades ago but still had no Bible in their own language. They had been praying for 30 years for a Bible and hymnal in the Bisu language.

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On the brink of despair after seven years of work with the Bisu people and seeing little fruit, Kirk and Suzie were overjoyed to learn of this community and opportunity. Not only were Kirk and Suzie trained in Bible translation, but they had already helped the Bisu community develop a working alphabet, complete with literacy materials. Kirk, Suzie and dedicated Bisu speakers began meticulously translating the Bible into the Bisu language, a process, Kirk said, that is a far cry from the scholarly ivory tower most people imagine in Bible translation. On the contrary, creating a Bisu Bible involved Kirk, Suzie, five Bisu college students, multiple versions of the Bible, copious questions and perpetual conversation about how each verse would not only be read, but heard. For instance, Kirk said, Jesus’ statement “Behold! I stand at the door and knock” from Revelation 3 would not make sense to a Bisu person. Instead, Bisu customs dictate that a visitor approaching the stairway or entrance to a house clear his or her throat and call out the home owner’s name. Therefore, in the Bisu Bible, Revelation 3:20 begins, “Behold! I stand at the heart’s door, calling out, seeking entrance.” While their presence as field personnel is transformative, scripture

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their community. Preaw, a recent college graduate, first began her journey with Christ when her fiancé Prem (Por’s brother) introduced her to the Bible and seeded her understanding of a loving and gracious God. A few months later, Preaw joined the translation team, helping with the final New Testament edits, and recording several books. She says the experience of being both a learner and translator allowed her to finally uncover the (Above) There are now some 15 Bisu believers vast love that is God’s being and mission in who have formed a church near Chiang Rai, the world. Thailand, and are bearing witness to Jesus “I have been searching for that love my Christ, becoming a healing presence in their community. entire life, and now I’ve found it,” Preaw said. “I see it. God chose me. And I see the (Left) After nearly 20 years of alphabet development and Bible translation, the Bisu truth — that it’s not about rules or law but New Testament was published in October 2015 about love. My hope and the hope of every both in written form and downloadable audio. Christian here is to see the Bisu people and our family know the great love of God, not just physically but deep in their mind and soul. The Bisu Bible is a great opportunity for provides an infinitely more sustainable and them to know the story in their own language. empowering means of pointing to God’s love If the time is right, I want to read it to my and grace. “I really think scripture is the best witness mother. If they open their hearts, they will understand the Bisu Bible much easier than if that there is,” Kirk said. they were reading any other translation.” “It doesn’t have to go home for furlough; For Preaw, Prem, Por and many other it doesn’t get sick; it doesn’t have to Bisu speakers who are already bearing witness worry about raising funds. It can become to Christ, liberation is not something you a permanent fixture in the culture and can hold onto; you must something that the give it away. The liberation culture can form its “I REALLY THINK that Por and her brother own theology around. SCRIPTURE IS THE BEST experienced that morning The spirit of God is WITNESS THAT THERE IS,” soon spread to their father, moving in places and among people in ways KIRK SAID. “IT CAN BECOME who has now returned home to work off his debt that we would never A PERMANENT FIXTURE and reacquire the family’s imagine, bringing the IN THE CULTURE AND land, even mustering a freedom and liberty down payment for a family that Jesus offered. What SOMETHING THAT THE pickup truck. Moreover, he better way to further CULTURE CAN FORM ITS now spends his time with release that spirit OWN THEOLOGY AROUND.” his family and is faithfully anew among the Bisu engaging in the journey of people?” reconciliation, not only with his wife but with The Bisu New Testament was published his children. He leads worship in the small in October 2015 — both in written form Bisu church. In the same way, Por’s mother and downloadable audio. Now, some 15 has begun her own journey with Christ and Bisu individuals are bearing witness to with her husband as she navigates through Christ. They have formed a church and are both the hope and pain of reconciliation. In becoming a healing presence in the life of

the end, Por explained, God’s own refusal to hold us hostage to our darkness must become our own refusal to hold others to theirs. “God wants us to forgive,” Por said. “I knew that wouldn’t be easy to do, but I asked for strength from God and God helped me do it. When I came to know God, in the end, I was able to hug my dad from the heart and tell him that I loved him. And I know that I couldn’t have done this with my own power. This is a miracle that God has done for me. When we show others this love, our lives become a testimony to God’s story.” With support from the CBF Offering for Global Missions, Kirk, Suzie and their community of Bisu partners continue to bear witness to Christ in Thailand. The local Bisu church where Por, Preaw, Prem and others worship has already begun to partner with churches in neighboring communities and countries to develop more translation opportunities and workshops. With the support they receive from Cooperative Baptists and partners all over the world, Kirk said, their Bisu community has not only been empowered with God’s story of hope but is a living extension of that story.

“We’re so grateful for the support of CBF churches and individuals for the past 20 years,” Kirk said. “The Offering for Global Missions has really been the key to the last 20 years of our ministry — that’s why the scripture is now available in Bisu. Your gifts have made it possible for the Bisu to have the New Testament in their heart-language and your ongoing gifts will continue to allow us to translate portions of the Old Testament and adapt the New Testament for related language groups in other countries. We are deeply grateful for that, as well as the prayers of God’s people all over the world.”

Order CBF Offering for Global Missions resources for free at

CBF OGM Bulletin Insert/ Poster Combo (Packs of 20)

CBF Global Missions Discovery Booklet (Packs of 20)

BLAKE TOMMEY serves with the Baptist General Association of Virginia as a collegiate minister at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

CBF 2016-17 OGM Envelopes (Packs of 100)

CBF 2016-17 OGM DVD with video resources OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS

CBF 2015-16 OGM Flashdrive with video resources

Leader’s Guide (Above) Por, the second-known Bisu believer (right), reviews language learning materials alongside a fellow staff member at the Foundation for Applied Linguistics in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she has helped to create literacy lessons in five other ethnic languages. (Right) Por’s village now has a thriving church with 15 Bisu believers who all can read or listen to the New Testament in their heart language.

2016-17 CBF OGM Bible Study Curriculum for adults, youth and children along with Worship Resources available for download. A U G U S T/ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 6

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Water and the Word I really don’t think much about the mayhem of those divisive years, except perhaps when friends remind me of specific “crisis events” we shared together. And then the old memories descend. Riding the SBC rapids bonded some of us for life. Thankfully, 25 years of participation in CBF, and membership in two predominantly African-American Baptist congregations, still instruct and enliven me with grace recovered in the “water and the word” of Christ’s church. Gratitude for such grace influences the following observations on CBF as a “new creation” of Christian community.

The following is an essay by Dr. Bill Leonard (pictured above) from “CBF at 25: Stories of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” a new book released June 22 at the 2016 CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of CBF. “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. She is his new creation by water and the word.” So Samuel Wesley’s powerful hymn begins. The phrase, “new creation by water and the word,” overwhelms me every time we sing that song; the simple idiom captures the internal and external essence of the Church as Body of Christ. Applicable to Christian communions in general, the words enhance my own celebration and struggle with Baptist ways of articulating and living the Gospel. To reflect on the first 25 years of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship history is to revisit the image of a “new creation by water and the word.” Like many “new creations” within Christianity, CBF began out of deep divisions in the larger Baptist family. A decade of turmoil between factions in the Southern Baptist Convention finally took its toll, convincing some people that it was time to stop fighting over doctrine and denomination and move on, leaving the SBC to itself. CBF was born of that decision — not easily, and not without varying degrees of hesitation. Divorces, familial or ecclesial, are always painful.

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First, from its earliest days, CBF has sought to be a place where individuals and congregations have found healing from the “Baptist wars” and other continuing ecclesiastical divisions. This is a gift, not simply to so-called “ex-SBCers” but also to those who still experience struggles in and with the Church and the world. May such gospel triage continue, even increase. Second, also from the beginning, CBF has facilitated exploration of Baptist identity — past, present and future — in multiple approaches and ministry possibilities. Whatever else we may be or become, Baptists are a people who affirm the “water and the word” of a believers’ church, in which the “glad river” of believer’s baptism becomes an outward sign of inward experience with Christ. That identity “centers” us as a people, emboldening our engagement with the broader church and beyond. CBF helps us own our “Baptistness,” confessing our sins and reaffirming that the Kingdom of God (God’s New Day) really has come near. Third, across these 25 years, CBF has worked diligently to nurture and facilitate theological education for new generations of Baptist ministers, an essential blueprint for the future. In fact, one of the most hopeful signs of CBF — indeed the Baptist — future is present in these young women and men who are taking their place in congregational and community leadership. Likewise, the Fellowship has developed programs for “Young Leaders,” assisting new networks of recent seminary graduates that enhance friendship, connectedness and strategies for the future. And these young people are rising to the challenge in congregations nationally and internationally. Through these emphases, CBF extends its “new creation” substantially.

Fourth, what about the future? Questions abound: • What about the “water?” How will CBF and its related churches retell the Jesus Story in ways that draw persons to transformation through faith in Christ and baptism into Christ’s body, the Church? As old methods for describing “new life in Christ” wane or disappear altogether, where will we find Jesus? • What about the “Word?” Have years of debate over theories of biblical inspiration kept us from the biblical text itself and the challenge of biblical interpretation? Can CBF encourage participant churches and individuals to rediscover biblical study not simply as an end to itself, but as a way of enlivening personal and communal faith beyond crass or selective literalism? • And what of CBF itself? Might it continue, even extend, its partnerships with like-hearted communions such as the American Baptist Churches USA, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Alliance of Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant, not only because we need their fellowship, but because none of us can make it alone? “The church of CHRIST is a company of faithful people,” the Baptist confession of 1611 declares, “knit unto the Lord, & one unto another, by Baptism, upon their own confession of the faith and sins.” The water, the word, and “a company of faithful people” knitted together, by grace. Let’s keep at it. Amen.

BILL J. LEONARD is the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and Professor of Church History at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Order your copy of

CBF AT 25:


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Opportunities to

August 2016

CBF field personnel Kirk and Suzie have worked among the Bisu people since 1995. Their long-term presence made it possible for the Bisu to have the New Testament in their heart-language.


Visit for additional Opportunities to Affect, including: In Small Groups Around the Table: At Home

Bearing Witness in Thailand IN WORSHIP: A MISSIONS MOMENT Missions Education Resource

The prayer below can be incorporated into a worship service or other prayer time.


LEARN Learn more about Kirk and Suzie’s ministry at

PRAY Pray for the work of CBF field personnel and partners who are addressing physical and spiritual needs worldwide. Prayers of the People is available in multiple formats at

NETWORK Engage with the ministries of CBF field personnel through Offering for Global Missions videos, Bible studies and other OGM resources. Visit

GIVE Your generous gifts are vital to the work of CBF field personnel and other Fellowship ministries. Find out more at

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of Bisu speakers, publishing the Bisu New Testament in October 2015. Now a small group has formed a church and they are becoming a healing presence in their community.

Read the article on pp. 24-27 in this issue of fellowship! Visit for resources related to the Offering for Global Missions. Order envelopes and other materials as needed for your congregation.

With support from the CBF Offering for Global Missions, Kirk, Suzie and their community of Bisu partners continue to bear witness to Christ in Thailand. They have begun to partner with churches in neighboring communities and countries to develop more translation opportunities and workshops.

Share the following information from the article: Since 1995, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Kirk and Suzie have lived and ministered among the Bisu people of Thailand. Fear is embedded in the Bisu worldview. The Bisu live in fear of punishment for sins committed in previous reincarnations as well as in this life. The result is deep pessimism, with rates of alcoholism rising over the past 10 years. After seven years of building relationships and providing literacy training, Kirk and Suzie were on the brink of despair. Then they learned of a group of Bisu speakers from a neighboring country who had converted to Christianity decades ago but had no Bible in their own language. Trained in Bible translation, Kirk and Suzie began a partnership with a dedicated group

Kirk says, “The Offering for Global Missions has really been the key to the last 20 years of our ministry — that’s why the scripture is now available in Bisu. Your gifts have made it possible for Bisu to have the New Testament in their heart-language and your ongoing gifts will continue to allow us to translate portions of the Old Testament and adapt the New Testament for related language groups in other countries. We are deeply grateful for that, as well as the prayers of God’s people all over the world.” 3.

Encourage gifts to the Offering for Global Missions, sharing where envelopes and other resources are available.


Offer prayers for Kirk and Suzie and their Bisu partners in ministry.

Opportunities to

September 2016

A teen baptized in 2006 at CBF church start Cowboy Church of Erath County in Stephenville, Texas.


Visit for additional Opportunities to Affect, including: Around the Table: At Church In Worship: Responsive Reading

LEARN Read CBF at 25: Stories of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, available at

CBF at 25: Story of a Name IN SMALL GROUPS

Missions Education Resource The outline below is designed for adult mission groups, Bible study classes and 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. Read the article on pp. 20-23 in this issue of fellowship! and gather copies for participants.


Recall that several names were abandoned because of negative connotations in certain regions of the country. As a group, consider the connection between an organization’s name and reputation.


Ask the group to reflect on the past 25 years of their own lives, including significant challenges and celebrations.


Ask: After 25 years, what is the reputation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship? What have been some of the significant challenges and celebrations in CBF’s first 25 years?

7. 3.

Say: The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. CBF has recently published a book of reflections and essays to commemorate the event. One of the stories reflects on how CBF got its name.

Ask: Are you surprised that “United Baptist Fellowship” was the original name on CBF’s proposed constitution? In what areas of our fellowship should unity be a goal? How can we strive for cooperation?


Discuss the feeling mentioned in the article of “heading someplace free and faithful” and the ways your group experiences that freedom and faithfulness.


Pray a closing prayer for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s next 25 years, asking God to help the denomi-network remain free and faithful.

PRAY Join in prayer with other Cooperative Baptists through Prayers of the People. The annual publication is a resource to guide your prayers for CBF field personnel, church starters, chaplains and more. Download the guide at

NETWORK Learn more about CBF’s 25th Anniversary at

GIVE Your generous gifts to CBF’s 25th Anniversary campaign will shape ministry and missions for years to come. Find out more at


Discuss Page Fulgham’s feeling of euphoria and Jimmy Allen’s note of caution about suggesting a name for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Why was the naming of the organization a “torturous path” for early leaders? Reflect on the power of names to both reflect an organization’s past and shape its future.

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SUSTAINING GLOBAL MISSIONS Give now to CBF’s 25th Anniversary Campaign to support sustaining global missions, forming healthy churches and nurturing young Baptists.



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fellowship! magazine - August/September 2016  
fellowship! magazine - August/September 2016