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A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship •



Associational Relationships and the ‘Illumination Project’ HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS From our beginning we have believed that Baptist Christians can and should work together in mutual trust and respect to serve God’s mission in the world. This passion for cooperation is in the DNA of the Fellowship — it is who we are and how we want to obey the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Historically, Baptists have believed that individual Christians and local churches should voluntarily work together for the sake of the Gospel. This is sometimes called the “associational principle” and it has resulted in many remarkable collaborative ministries. Cooperation and voluntary connection are as much a part of Baptist history and identity as individual autonomy and freedom. Baptists have formed themselves into associations, conventions, unions and alliances for the purposes of fellowship, theological education and missions. Believing the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, Baptists have simultaneously believed in the voluntary association of churches because they know they need each other. They have organized themselves into structures out of a firm conviction that cooperation is woven into the fabric of effective ministry.1

PURPOSEFUL AMBIGUITY AND THE ELASTICITY OF ASSOCIATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS Associational relationships are voluntary and are inherently elastic. There are other religious orders and organizations that require for participation/membership a pledged compliance with a rule of life. There are religious structures that require for participation/membership that the central governance maintain the power of ordination or property ownership. However, Baptist organizations are characterized by associational relationships that exhibit the power of shared (but not identical) witness, and the power of Christian unity expressed in cooperation and missional service. So where are the inherent boundaries in associational relationships? They are found in several places, although not in

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centralized doctrinal or governing power. Clearly, by virtue of our Baptist distinctive of church autonomy, each participating congregation has its defining and governing characteristics. Likewise, any associational body (like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) also has defining and governing characteristics. Do these exactly align with the congregations that are participating? No; almost never. Do they provide an elasticity between the associational relationships? Yes. By not imposing the boundaries of the associational body on Congregation A or on the function or acceptance of Congregation B, the elasticity of associational relationships abides. The opposite is also true — by not requiring the associational body to reflect the particular characteristics of any one, or all, of the participating congregations, the elasticity of the associational bond abides. So, in beginning the Illumination Project, we are bringing into focus a topic of inherent boundaries in associational relationships. First, the associational body itself, CBF, while a Baptist Christian organization, is not a church. It’s structures, governance and boundaries, even legal considerations, are significantly different than any single congregation. One important example is that CBF has more than 50 employees and global engagement at many international sites. These international employees and relationships are the result of the very cooperative ministry made possible by the associational manifestation of shared witness and compassionate mission. They fulfill some of the most desirable and important priorities of our cooperation, but they also define and limit the associational organization in ways that are different than the local churches that comprise the Fellowship. When churches look into the associational entity and do not see themselves reflected to some degree, they begin to question the strength of their associational connection. Likewise, when they require the separate entity to be too closely reflective of any given congregation, they diminish the platform of cooperation that has enabled the shared ministry which is the purpose of cooperative/ associational relationships. CBF does not

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

exist to duplicate the church, but to extend ministry. There is a purposeful ambiguity in this arrangement. One aspect of the Illumination Project is to explore, articulate and affirm the nature of our associational relationships and provide voice to the power of our shared witness, selfless service and Christian unity. This part of the conversation within the Illumination Project to articulate COOPERATION belies something sacred and central to Baptist Christian identity and something that is sometimes illusive, or at least sensitive to define, exploring the elasticity of associational relationships. Editor: Read more about the Illumination Project on pp. 8-11. 1

Daniel Vestal, “Passion for Cooperation,” May 2, 2011. A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Volume 26, Number 6

December 2016/January 2017

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 Jeff Langford ASSOCIATE EDITOR Carrie McGuffin ASSISTANT EDITOR Candice Young E-MAIL PHONE (770) 220-1600


ILLUMINATION PROJECT Illumination Project Committee enters next phase of its work By Aaron Weaver



PEOPLE CAN CHANGE In this Advent season, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship looks in anticipation toward the future and the hope, peace, joy and love that comes along with the birth of Christ. Among these pages you will find stories of this anticipation — hope for empowerment of the African American community of West Louisville, peace in the historic partnership formed between CBF and NBCA, joy in the transformation of prisoners in Indonesia and love in the discernment process of the Illumination Project. In this season of anticipation, we hold these stories of mission and ministry close to our hearts. In this season of giving, we consider the gifts that we can give as churches and individuals and as a Fellowship to bring about beloved community and unity in our great diversity. During this Advent season let us celebrate the work of the Fellowship that transforms lives, lifts up the voices of the marginalized and empowers individuals and communities around the world. We hope that you find the gifts of this season within these pages, including ideas for your Advent study and celebration on pp. 28-29 of this issue. Join us as we hope together. Join us in praying for justice and peace. Join us as we celebrate the small joys we see every day. Join us in love.

Bali 9 leader finds redemption, transforms others through art alongside CBF field personnel in Indonesian prison By Greg Warner


EMPOWERWEST Cooperative Baptists seek racial justice and empowerment in West Louisville By Blake Tommey


CBF CELEBRATION WEEK Churches and individuals throughout the Fellowship celebrate 25 years of Cooperative Christianity By Carrie McGuffin

5 GENEROUS FELLOWSHIP By Jeff Huett Missouri church celebrates CBF’s 25th at event 100 years in the making

13 ON UNITY, COOPERATON AND A BIG UMBRELLA By Doug Dortch CBF’s Moderator reflects on the challenges and hopes for the Illumination Project

21 BAPTIST GROUPS FORM HISTORIC ALLIANCE TO SHARE AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at



Transformation and Reconciliation

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

31 AFFECT: JANUARY 2017 Justice and Empowerment

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 /J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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prayerspeople of the

Come, Lord Jesus! By Bo Prosser


he Bible ends by reminding us that we are called to be people of the Christ. And, we are reminded to sing the great hymn, “Maranatha, Maranatha!” (“Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20). We are now 2,000 years past the first Christmas; yet, we still cry “Maranatha!” and await our Lord’s return. However, we can’t just sit around wishing and hoping. We pray with urgency, and we serve with confidence. Jesus is our Savior and our waiting in this season is to celebrate Christ’s birth with renewed faith. We yearn for something more than Christmas as usual. We anticipate the birth of the Christ Child to fill us with a hope that transcends our struggles, worries and woes. Family is important in this season. So are worship and sacrificial giving. Pray without ceasing, serve and give without questioning and gather with expectation. God is with us even now! As you pray, settle yourself into your prayer space. Focus on the prayer above: “Maranatha, Maranatha!” Or focus on the translation: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Let this phrase run through your thoughts over and over until you are praying this as naturally as you are breathing. Then pause, be quiet and listen for the Infant Jesus to affirm and restore you. Now, pray the prayer once more and add one or two names from the Prayer Calendar here. God knows what they need and God knows we need to lift them up. So pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, for (insert one or two names). Perhaps the Christ Child will affirm these that you’ve mentioned. I can promise that they will know they are being prayed over. And, that is a wonderful Advent blessing. We yearn for something more than Christmas as usual. May it be so for each of us this Advent! May it be so this Advent season.

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

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DECEMBER 2016 1 Joseph Farry, Greenville, SC (CH) Phil Miller-Evans, St. Petersburg, FL (FP) 2 Connie Madden, Kirkwood, MO (CH) Laura Roach, Morgantown, NC (CH) 3 Ed Beddingfield, Fayetteville, NC (PC) James Heath, Dry Prong, LA (CH) Shane McNary, Slovakia (FP) Gennady Podgaisky, Ukraine (FP) Rachel Gunter Shapard (S-Florida) Jim Tillman, Swansboro, NC (CST) David Wilson, Chapel Hill, NC (CH)

4 Jose Albovias, Louisville, KY (CH) Elizabeth Richards, Emeritus (FP) 5 Chuck Gass, Gainesville, FL (CH) Kenn Lowther, Columbus, OH (CH) Chris O’Rear, Nashville, TN (PC) 6 Joe Mills, Roswell, GA (CH) 7 Phil Hester, Emeritus (CST) Robert Wilder, Jacksonville, FL (CH) 8 Tommy Deal, Dalton, GA (CH) Edward Erwin, Pensacola, FL (CH) Shane Gaster, Deland, FL (CH) Virginia King, Columbia, SC (CH) Donald Kriner, Canton, GA (CH) Robert Pitts, Greenville, MS (CST) 9 Julie Brown, Paris, France (FP) Wayne Hyatt, Spartanburg, SC (PC) 10 Cecelia Beck, Shelby, NC (FP) Terri Byrd (S-Alabama) Beth Roberts, Chapel Hill, NC (CH) Gary Strickland, Sioux Falls, ID (PC) James Williams, Montgomery, AL (CH) 11 Zechariah Maas, 2008, Belize (FPC) 13 Rick Landon, Lexington, KY (PC) Scott Lee, Snellville, GA (CH) Jim R. Smith (S-Decatur) Frank Stillwell, Lexington, KY (PC) Robin Sullens, Dallas, TX (PC) Will Yarborough (S-Decatur) 15 Anna Anderson, Scotland Neck, NC (FP) James Close, Louisville, KY (CH) Sheree Jones, Winston-Salem, NC (CH) 16 Cayden Norman, 2000, Spain (FPC) Lee Ann Rathbun, Austin, TX (CH) Ina Winstead, Emeritus (FP) 17 Maria-Grace Angel, 2014, Belgium (FPC) Craig Cantrall, Louisville, KY (CH) Buddy Presley, North Augusta, SC (CH) Ronald Wilson, Northport, AL (CH) 18 Loris Adams, Indian Trail, NC (CH) Joel DeFehr, Oklahoma City, OK (CH) 19 Anna-Grace Acker, 2005, Uganda (FPC) Bernard Morris, Chester, VA (CH) James Palmer, Pensacola, FL (CH) 20 Robert Brasier, Queen Creek, AZ (CH) Melissa L. Dowling, Austin, TX (CH) Larry Glover-Wetherington, Durham, NC (PC) Kyle Kelley (S-Louisiana) Alan Willard, Blacksburg, VA (PC) 21 Lynn Hutchinson, Togo (FP) Bethany McLemore, Roanoke, VA (PC) Deborah Wall, Smithfield, NC (CH) 22 Sarah Wofford, Mooresville, NC (CH) Candice Young (S-Decatur) 23 Frances Brown, Surfside Beach, SC (PC) Robert Elkowitz, Cumming, GA (CH) Steven Ivy, Indianapolis, IN (CH) Hal Lee, Clinton, MS (CH) Linda Strange, Denton, TX (CH) 24 Michael Carter, Dallas, TX (CH) Bogdan Podgaisky, 1997, Ukraine (FPC) 25 Natalie Moore (S-Decatur) 26 Freddy Hinson, Rocky River, OH (CH) Scottie Stamper, Charlotte, NC (CH) 27 Larry Austin, Fredericksburg, VA (CH) Juan Luís Barco, Raleigh, NC (CST) Michael Mills, Spokane, WA (CST) Solon Smith, Louisville, KY (CH) 28 Claudia Forrest, Cordova, TN (CH) John Halbrook, Pound Ridge, NY (PC) Thomas Holbrook, Berea, KY (PC) 29 Maner Tyson, Waterbury, CT (FP) Art Wiggins, Triangle, VA (CH) 30 Shay Greene, Raleigh, NC (CH) Revonda Deal, Emeritus (FP) James Garrison, Arden, NC (CH) Kenneth Kelly, Black Mountain, NC (CH) Ramona Reynolds-Netto, Orlando, FL (CH) Lex Robertson, Oklahoma City, OK (CH) 31 Nathaniel Newell, 1998, San Antonio, TX (FPC) David “Tod” Smith, Farmington, NM (CH)

JANUARY 2017 1 Sam Bandela, Atlanta, GA (FP) Noy Peeler, Cambodia (FP) Christina Pittman, Summerville, SC (CH) 2 Misael Marriaga, Greenville, NC (CST) Gabriella Newell, 2002, San Antonio, TX (FPC) Jon Parks, Slovakia (FP) Daniel Sostaita, Rural Hall, NC (CST) Tammy Stocks, Romania (FP) 3 Christopher Bowers, Powhatan, VA (PC) William McCann, Madisonville, KY (CH) 4 Joshua Hickman, Newnan, GA (CH) 5 Richard Durham, Mount Pleasant, NC (CH) Charles Kirby, Hendersonville, NC (CH) Kevin Lynch, Spartanburg, SC (PC) Calvin McIver, Sacramento, CA (CH) Linda Serino, Memphis, TN (CH) 6 Larry Hardin, Topeka, KS (CH) 7 Denny Spear, Dunwoody, GA (CH) 8 Rachel Hill, Shelby, NC (CH) Ethan Lee, 2009, Macedonia (FPC) 9 Bill Cayard, China (FP) Paul Hamilton, Lodge, SC (CH) Patrick Moses, Mansfield, TX (CST) Jeffrey Perkins, Knoxville, TN (CH) 10 Kenny Sherin, Mitchell, SD (FP) Jill Zimmer, Columbia, TN (CH) 11 John Mark Boes (S-Decatur) Ed Waldrop, Augusta, GA (CH) 12 Neil Cochran, Greenville, SC (CH) Larry Connelly, Decatur, GA (CH) Scott Smallwood, Englewood, FL (CH) 13 Dianne McNary, Slovakia (FP) 14 Thomas Cantwell, Paducah, KY (CH) Steve Graham (S-Oklahoma/Kansas) 15 Keith Ethridge, Yorktown, VA (CH) John Foxworth, El Paso, TX (CH) 16 Merrie Grace Harding, 1995, Orlando, FL (FPC) Jerry Hendrix, Abilene, TX (CST) David Hormenoo, Durham, NC (CH) 17 Matthew Hanzelka, Round Rock, TX (CH) Donna Manning, Fort Worth, TX (CH) Aaron Norman, 2005, Spain (FPC) Glenn Norris, Sherwood, AR (CH) 18 William Beaver, Fort Benning, GA (CH) Jeanell Cox, Camden, NC (CH) Justin Nelson, Mount Airy, NC (CH) 19 Nicholas Hughes, Blountstown, FL (CH) Kaelah-Joy Acker, 2008, Uganda (FPC) Amoreena Jasper, 1997, Somerset, KY (FPC) Jackie Ward, Goshen, KY (CH) 20 Marcia Binkley, Emeritus (FP) Marshall Gupton, Smyrna, TN (CH) Kevin Morgan, Pisgah Forest, NC (CH) Paul Tolbert, Scott AFB, IL (CH) 21 Jim King, Newport News, VA (CH) 22 Jim Hylton (S-North Carolina) 23 Richard Atkinson, Bastrop, TX (CH) David Bass, Cambodia (FP) Brent Raitz, Cleveland, OH (CH) 24 Heather Kaye Lee, Austin, TX (CH) Stephen Reeves (S-Decatur) 25 Mich, New Jersey (FP) Chris Nagel, Houston, TX (CH) 26 Sandy Hale, Lebanon, NH (CH) 27 Darrell Bare, Charleston, SC (CH) Ben Sandford, Hampton, VA (CH) Eric Smith, Willow Park, TX (CH) 28 Chuck Ahlemann, Des Moines, IA (CH) 29 Christopher Bowers, Powhatan, VA (CH) Glen Foster (S-West Region) Darryl Jefferson, Charlotte, NC (CH) 30 Matthew Benorden, Lawrence, KS (CH) Hal Ritter, Waco, TX (PC) Nathan Rogers, Anchorage, AK (CH) 31 Rebecca Adrian, Irving, TX (CH) John Manuel, Fort Benning, GA (CH) Paul Smith, San Diego, CA (CH)



David Johnson, pastor of Overland Baptist Church in Overland, Missouri, leads his congregation in a balloon launch to commemorate the church’s 100th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

By Jeff Huett


hen Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of Haiti, killing more than 1,000 when it made landfall on Oct. 4, David Johnson thought of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Jenny Jenkins. Johnson and his Overland Baptist Church congregation partners with Jenkins in Haiti, alongside other CBF Heartland churches. It’s connections like this one with Jenkins in medical missions that have made partnership with CBF so important to the church over the years. Overland has been a CBF partner church for all 25 years of the Fellowship’s existence. That 25-year partnership is exactly one quarter of Overland’s life. This year, the church turns 100 years old. The church celebrated its past, future and its connection with CBF and CBF Heartland at a special Centennial Celebration on Oct. 16. The service coincided with the start of CBF Celebration Week, which took place Oct. 16-23. CBF Heartland Coordinator Jeff Langford and its former coordinator, Harold Phillips, were on hand to congratulate members of the church on its anniversary and celebrate CBF’s 25th year. Paula Jackson, the daughter of former Overland Baptist pastor H. Dale Jackson and rector of Church of Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, preached. But this celebration was more than a one-day event. Johnson said the congregation wanted to celebrate throughout the year by completing 100 community service projects. He said the church surpassed 100 and probably approached 200 projects. “The church is active in serving its neighbors,” Johnson said.

Johnson and a fellow member serve in leadership for the local Meals on Wheels program and the church spearheads an innovative partnership between a group of churches and the local Ritenour County Schools to provide utility assistance to the families of students. The coalition of churches includes congregations of the Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Lutheran and General Baptist churches. The partnership, called Ritenour Co-Care, is supported through offerings collected by the churches, by many school teachers in the county through payroll deduction, and through an annual trivia night that raises thousands of dollars. The congregation is also a fun, upbeat presence in the community. Its seven-member Bluegrass band called the Glory Pickers (with Johnson on banjo) travels throughout the community playing at civic events, nursing homes and outdoor festivals. Overland is a congregation that is a few years older than the city in which it resides. It is healthy and poised to begin its next 100 years. “We’re future-oriented here at Overland,” Johnson said. “And I believe church success is measured in centuries. Just talk to the European Baptists about that.”

JEFF HUETT is the CBF Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHuett.

For more information on how your congregation can be a part of CBF’s 25th Anniversary Campaign, including creative ways your church can be recognized for its leadership in the campaign, contact Jeff Huett at 770-220-6200 or D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 /J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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Jacksonville, FL

Accommodations: Doubletree by Hilton ChurchWorks is a 3-day event for all practitioners of education and spiritual formation in the congregational setting. “ChurchWorks matters because it is imperative that associates have safe, creative, intuitive space to think and grow around issues, questions and realities directly influencing and shaping their ministry and the church.” Molly Brummett Wudel, Co-Pastor, Emmaus Way Church (North Carolina), and Campus Minister at UNC Cooperative Baptist Student Fellowship

WELLBEING IN MINISTRY Matt Bloom, University of Notre Dame Keynote Speaker

Offering hope after the storm.


Hurricane Matthew struck the Haitian coast with devastating 145-mile-per-hour winds and torrential rain on October 4. Through CBF field personnel Jenny Jenkins and David Harding, CBF is responding alongside global Baptist groups with their partners in the region. “Our focus is to help the most vulnerable that do not have financial reserves to recover from the loss,” Harding said. “Assistance in this time of need will give a sense of hope that God and God’s people care about their plight in the midst of devastation.”

Learn more and give at


Join us in celebrating the influence and voices of women from across the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship movement. This three-day gathering will include conversation, worship, leadership development and networking opportunities.


April 26-28, 2017 First Baptist Church Knoxville, Tenn.


Illumination Project Committee enters next phase of its work By Aaron Weaver

CHARLIE FULLER (CHAIR) Executive Pastor First Baptist Church Washington, D.C.


Senior Pastor First Baptist Church Athens, Ga.


Senior Minister Mountain Brook Baptist Church Birmingham, Ala. (CBF Moderator, 2016-2017)


Senior Pastor National Baptist Memorial Church Washington, D.C. (CBF Moderator, 2014-2015)


Pastor South Main Baptist Church Houston, Texas

REBECCA WIGGS Attorney Watkins & Eager Jackson, Miss.

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he CBF Governing Board’s six-member ad hoc committee leading the implementation of the Illumination Project is working diligently and is preparing to enter the next phase of its work listening to, reflecting and expressing the diverse voices of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. This report, from committee chair Charlie Fuller, came on the second day of the CBF Governing Board’s Sept. 29-30 meeting. The Illumination Project is an initiative adopted by the Governing Board at the 2016 General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., to create and facilitate a process of discernment and accompaniment to form and strengthen unity through cooperation across the Fellowship. While the project’s first implementation concerns matters of human sexuality and CBF’s hiring policy, the project aims to provide “more light and less heat” in situations where the Fellowship finds itself in conflict or has varying convictions, furthering CBF’s 25-year history of forming intentional community in spite of differences. Fuller said the committee hopes the Illumination Project will help CBF live into its name. “We want to try to help our Fellowship to live into all the parts of our name. What does it mean to be Cooperative? What does it mean to cooperate in our shared mission? According to the identity statement developed and articulated by the 2012 Task Force, we are a missionary-sending-and supporting network. How then does that work itself out in the form of cooperation?” Fuller said. “We are Baptist, and we find the Holy Spirit from the bottom up,” said Fuller, emphasizing the historic Baptist commitments to religious freedom, the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church. “We want to remind people what it means to be Baptist. It’s been

good to us for 400 years — we want to keep the main thing the main thing.” Fuller highlighted the importance of “fellowship” in CBF’s name. “Fellowship is important. How do we work together and support one another? Fellowship is an important word. It is a crucial word. We hope in this process to dig down into our identity.” In proposing the project at the 2016 General Assembly, CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said that the first commitment in this transparent process is to listen to, reflect and express the voices of the Fellowship. She noted that conversations around difficult subjects has been a strategy in the Fellowship, with dozens of group conference calls in the past year with Cooperative Baptists around cultural challenges from North Carolina’s HB2 law regarding the use of bathrooms in public buildings to “religious freedom” legislation to matters of human sexuality. With a commitment to Scripture and through the creation of models of dialogue and decision-making, the Illumination Project will illuminate the qualities that have built unity in CBF and, through discernment, identify intentional efforts by which the Fellowship can live more deeply into its calling as a cooperative body, Paynter explained at the General Assembly in June.

THE COMMITTEE’S PROGRESS Fuller’s report follows a Sept. 19-20 retreat of the Illumination Project’s ad hoc committee at the CBF offices in Decatur, Ga., where the group began to plan for entering into a season of hearing the diversity of voices within CBF as well as its partners in the United States and around the world on matters of human sexuality. Hearing the

personal stories and experiences of a wide variety of voices, including stakeholders across the Fellowship, seeking to understand concerns of vital importance to stakeholders and discern what needs stakeholders have that need to be addressed is a priority of the project, the committee stressed at the retreat. The group noted that future purposeful conversations throughout CBF’s 18 states and regions will offer a more robust picture of who the Fellowship is on matters of human sexuality, and this process of facilitated discussions will respect the dignity of each person, honoring and keeping the Imago Dei of all people at the forefront. Since CBF’s polity tasks the Governing Board rather than the General Assembly with the exclusive responsibility of creating, monitoring and reviewing policies and funding, it is of the utmost importance to hear from the breadth of the Fellowship, the committee said. In a joint meeting of the ad hoc committee with other members of the CBF Governing Board, the leaders discussed the inclusion of representatives of CBF stakeholder groups, including churches, individuals and global and U.S.-based partner organizations. Identifying and formally interviewing stakeholders is a key step in this illumination process. These interviews will be used to develop composite profiles that will be used by the committee in the continuing implementation of the project. CBF General Assembly in June 2017 will also provide opportunities for all Cooperative Baptists to engage the process. An additional objective of the committee is to equip congregations with a toolkit to assist in dealing in healthy ways with difficult questions, offering a framework on how to strengthen unity through cooperation in the face of challenges and disagreements in the current cultural context, including a

diversity of viewpoints among Fellowship congregations on matters of human sexuality. “We are building a process and implementing it at the same time,” said Fuller during his Sept. 30 report to the Governing Board. “We hope that this process then becomes a toolkit that congregations can use to assist with difficult conversations, not just about matters of human sexuality.” CBF Moderator-Elect Shauw Chin Capps stressed the importance of this phase of the Illumination Project focused on hearing a wide array of stories from the Fellowship on matters of human sexuality. “This season of listening to and reflecting the multitude of voices of the Fellowship is extremely important as we seek to build and implement a meaningful process for this important work,” Capps said. “We are humbled to hear the diverse stories of Cooperative Baptists, and we are prepared to listen and discern the voice of God and the guidance of the Spirit in the time that is needed.” CBF Moderator Doug Dortch encouraged Cooperative Baptists to be engaged in the Illumination Project and share their stories as the committee enters into a stage of careful listening and reflecting. Please participate,” Dortch said. “We want to take time to hear stories from throughout the Fellowship and give many opportunities for participation in the process in the coming months.”



Frequently Asked Questions 1. WHY THE NEED FOR AN ILLUMINATION PROJECT? WHY NOW? At times in our nation’s religious and cultural climate when deliberative dialogue is needed most, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship seeks 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. 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 can use this process at its discretion — at specific times for specific issues. Controversial issues continue to painfully divide the church, in part because we lack an intentional practice of deliberative dialogue. 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. Recent events that have shaped the current cultural context include 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 a similar law 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 sates to license same-sex marriage, and a concern in Texas that pastors would be forced to perform same-sex weddings despite their conscientious objection.

2. WHAT KIND OF PROCESS IS THE ILLUMINATION PROJECT PLANNING TO CREATE AND IMPLEMENT? The Illumination Project aims to create a process for hearing the voices of the Fellowship. In authentic Baptist fashion, the Illumination Project seeks to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit through the voices of the Fellowship. Since there are 1,800 churches, more than a million people in our pews on any given Sunday and many partners in the United States and around the world, the goal is to hear representative stories from across our Fellowship.

3. WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE AND HOW WERE THEY SELECTED? The 6-member ad hoc committee of the Illumination Project is comprised of CBF Governing members including CBF Moderator Doug Dortch as well as former CBF Moderator Kasey Jones. CBF Moderator Doug Dortch appointed the committee’s members in July 2016 and selected Governing Board member Charlie Fuller, executive pastor at First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., to serve as the committee’s chair. In addition to Fuller and Dortch, other committee members include: Paul Baxley, senior minister, First Baptist Church, Athens, Ga.; Kasey Jones, senior pastor, National Baptist Memorial Church, Washington, D.C.; Steve Wells, pastor, South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas; and Rebecca Wiggs, attorney, Watkins & Eager, Jackson, Miss.

4. HOW DOES THIS PROCESS DIFFER FROM THE APPROACHES TAKEN BY OTHER CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS AND GROUPS? (E.G. METHODISTS, PRESBYTERIANS) Many other Christian denominations and groups have a “top-down” hierarchical structure. Authority comes from a bishop or other leaders. These mainline denominations ordain clergy and exert authority in many other ways over their churches. CBF does not do that. CBF from its very beginning has celebrated the autonomy of every local church. CBF does not ordain clergy nor make decisions for individual churches. In CBF life, authority emanates from the “bottom up.” The Illumination Project seeks to hear the stories from the grassroots of CBF and our other partners, both in the U.S. and globally. It’s through these stories that we hope for the Holy Spirit to lead us forward.

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5. WHAT IS CBF’S HIRING POLICY AND IS THE ILLUMINATION PROJECT ONLY ABOUT THAT? While CBF is not involved in decision-making at the local congregation level, the Fellowship has a hiring policy for its own staff, which states that CBF “does not allow for the expenditure of funds for organizations or causes that condone, advocate or affirm homosexual practice. Neither does CBF allow for the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual.” The Illumination Project is about more than this hiring policy, even as our shared life as a Fellowship is about so much more than the hiring policy. The Illumination Project is about hearing the stories of how individuals find meaning in our shared identity as a mission-sending organization.

6. WHO WILL BE ASKED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS? HOW ARE PARTICIPANTS SELECTED? The identification of stakeholders is well underway and will include our global partners as well as the various individuals, churches and groups connected to CBF domestically. We appreciate your prayers for this vital part of our process. We seek to identify and hear from the breadth of our Fellowship, treasuring every voice and valuing the dignity of every story we hear.

7. WHAT WILL THE COMMITTEE DO WITH THE INFORMATION AND STORIES COLLECTED? The Illumination Project is employing a process called Integrative Thinking, designed to address complex decision-making, specifically where there are ideas in tension with one another. The Illumination Project Committee members are committed to objectively hearing the collective voices of the Fellowship as a whole. The information and stories collected will be used to develop composite profiles that will then be used by the Illumination Project Committee in the continuing implementation of the project. The purpose of the composites will be to reflect back to the Fellowship through larger group discussions its own diversity and thus stimulate the creation of additional and deeper stories. It is hoped that through this process a set of potential pathways forward will emerge that will then be presented to the CBF Governing Board.

8. WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF THE ILLUMINATION PROJECT? HOW FAR ALONG IS THE COMMITTEE IN ITS WORK? With the help of an outside group experienced in developing such decision-making processes, the Illumination Project Committee is completing the initial work of designing the stages of the project, while simultaneously implementing the process.

9. WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR THIS PROCESS? WILL THERE BE A VOTE AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY? A process of this depth and importance will require much time. Seriously and comprehensively hearing the voices of such a large Fellowship cannot be done quickly. We ask all members of the Fellowship to be patient and wait along with us for the voice of the Holy Spirit to rise up from our people. According to the CBF Constitution and Bylaws, personnel policies are the purview of the Governing Board. They are not voted on by the General Assembly. The earliest possible time for the committee’s findings to be presented to the Governing Board will be at their September 2017 meeting. A presentation at the January 2018 meeting is much more reasonable. At that point, it will be up to the Governing Board to respond to the findings of the Illumination Project Committee.

10. HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE IN THE WORK OF THE ILLUMINATION PROJECT? Hearing stories from a diverse group of individuals, congregations and partners is essential for success of the Illumination Project. It is expected that sessions will be held across the Fellowship, including many at CBF state and regional meetings in the spring of 2017, as well as at the CBF General Assembly in June 2017. You may also engage the CBF Governing Board’s 6-member ad hoc committee leading the implementation of the Illumination Project by sending a message to


Advocacy in Action CONFERENCE

March 6-9, 2017 | Washington, D.C.

Cultivating a faithful public witness at the corner of missions and advocacy


On Unity, Cooperation and a Big Umbrella By Doug Dortch


ne of the hallmarks of Baptist life, at least among Baptists in the South, has been our ability to link hearts and hands with one another in order to advance the cause of Christ in our world. Because we have seen how much more we can accomplish together in fulfilling Jesus’ missionary mandate, we have chosen to pool our resources with those of other churches and individuals so that we might make the greatest impact possible for the Gospel. At times, such cooperation has challenged and stretched us because, like snowflakes, each Baptist has a different take on Doug Dortch serves as Moderator matters of faith and practice; and sometimes our differences have of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is the senior resulted in lively conversations with one another. But at the end minister of Mountain Brook Baptist of the day, we usually have been able to come together around Church in Birmingham, Ala. the priority of missional endeavors because of our choice to focus on those convictions we share in common instead of expending energy debating whatever differences may exist; and as a result, we’ve been God’s instruments of transformational change. The underlying premise of our cooperative practice is that unity is not the same as uniformity. Uniformity demands that every member of a group be in total agreement on every aspect of their shared life. It also requires that some authoritative party impose it when some in the group feel compelled to stray. Unity, on the other hand, recognizes that differences will inevitably exist among us. But instead of ignoring those differences and pretending they don’t exist, people committed to unity will work diligently at finding ways of overcoming those differences, even while maintaining them! Granted, while the consequences of that sort of work may be messy at times, the upside of experiencing such a deeper sense of community is most definitely worth the effort. We’re at a place in our present cultural context when division seems to be the order of the day. You don’t have to scratch very deep to find the points of polarization that have put people at odds with one another. Discord is all around us. But instead of griping and groaning about our present situation, what if we in the Fellowship came together to counter it? How much more of a hearing would we get if we offered a counter-narrative to the prevailing one, which promises only cynicism and despair? Most importantly, how might our unity stun a separated society into contemplating the difference that the same love of Christ that compels us to solve our differences might make in their everyday lives as well? Have you ever been with someone when a storm sprang up and there was just one umbrella between you? In such situations you face a choice. You can either wrestle with the other person to gain control of the umbrella, which will most likely result in the both of you getting wet. Or you can decide to stand side-by-side under the umbrella, each of you gripping the handle, so that you can proceed together toward your destination. You know from your experience which of those two options is the better way. So let’s come together in the midst of our present disturbances and make sure that our umbrella is big enough to accommodate all who need shelter. After all, we’re all in need of moving toward a place of peace and rest, and the Christ who compels us in that direction wants more than anything to see us walk together. I believe that sort of missional journey is one about which our kind of Baptists could get most excited.


Bali 9 leader finds redemption, transforms others through art alongside CBF field personnel in Indonesian prison By Greg Warner


t has been more than a year since Tina Bailey’s friend and student was executed by a firing squad in an Indonesian jungle, but that pain is still fresh on her face. “It’s been hard; but being a part of his life is something I would not trade for anything,” the longtime Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel and artist said with a distant look in her eyes. The grief has faded, but not her passion for justice and spiritual transformation. After more than three years teaching her friend to express his heart through painting, they spent an agonizing eight weeks awaiting either an execution date or an unlikely last-minute reprieve. He was Myuran Sukumaran (MY-oo ron Su-koo-ma-ron) — “Myu” to his friends — once considered a notorious drug smuggler who, during a decade of incarceration, became a prison reformer and, largely under Bailey’s mentorship, an internationally renowned painter. This unique friendship in Bali ended abruptly — many say unjustly — with Myu’s April 2015 death at the hands of the Indonesian government. On the eve of the 34-year-old’s execution, Bailey traveled 500-plus miles to the prison. “He asked me, if it came down to it, if I would I be willing to be his witness at the execution,” recalled Bailey, who has served with her husband, Jonathan, as coordinators of arts and engagement in Bali since 1995. “I said ‘of course.’”

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But at the last minute, Bailey was told Myu asked another friend to serve that role. Not being witness to her friend’s execution left Bailey feeling dismayed and confused, but she had already witnessed something more fulfilling: Myu’s transformation into a deeply spiritual person, unafraid to face his faults or fears. In 2005 Myu and co-defendant Andrew Chan were branded the “ringleaders” of the Bali 9, a group of young Australian men arrested in Indonesia while attempting to smuggle 18 pounds of Indonesian heroin onto airplanes bound for their homeland. Australia’s media labeled the group of teens and 20-somethings a “drug cartel.” Behind the headlines, Andrew and Myu were nothing like the gangsters portrayed by prosecutors during their 2006 trial, according to Bailey. “They were a bunch of kids, low-level drug mules, looking to make some fast money,” she said. In Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Prison, Andrew went from “drug kingpin” to a repentant and emboldened pastor. Myu, the reputed gang “enforcer” and martial-arts expert, taught other inmates job skills and found an outlet for his complex emotions with a paint brush. Many observers believe the rabid media coverage provoked the Indonesian courts to impose the harshest sentence possible — death

by firing squad. While the other seven defendants received penalties from 20 years to life, Myu and Andrew became pawns in a jurisdictional dispute between the two countries and symbols of an international campaign against capital punishment. In Australia, where the death penalty is illegal, the idea that the two faced execution by a foreign government outraged many. Although Indonesia itself opposes capital punishment for its citizens who are tried by other countries, it rebuffed Australia’s pleas to extradite the Bali 9 to their homeland for prosecution. Australian officials pleaded for clemency, offering a prisoner swap and warning of economic and diplomatic retaliation — all to no avail. Even some reporters who had sensationalized the Bali 9 saga turned into activists trying to avert a perceived injustice.

CBF field personnel Tina Bailey and Myu Sukumaran, one of the Bali 9 and student of Bailey’s art classes, pictured in the notorious Kerobokan Prison.

During the decade their legal drama played out, Myu and Andrew transformed the lives of dozens of fellow prisoners. Both young men grew up in nominally Christian settings in Sydney, Australia, only becoming acquainted just prior to the crime. In prison, the reputed “ringleaders” went in different directions. “They really lived in different worlds,” Bailey said. Prisoners sometimes create routines to try to isolate themselves. “They find ways to find space,” Bailey explained. While Andrew and Myu each came to the prison with seeds of faith already with them, they experienced a deeper and more authentic spiritual growth while imprisoned. Andrew became an outspoken Christian and ordained minister, building a strong Christian congregation inside the prison. Myu also grew in his faith in prison but his spiritual journey took a different path. “Myu was always more private about his faith,” Bailey said. He turned introspective. Yet he was the quiet strength other prisoners relied upon. Myu received permission to start a computer workshop in order “to keep himself busy.” Then he started classes for graphic

Jonathan and Tina Bailey are leaders in Bali’s rich and diverse Narwatsu arts community, where they create art in a number of cultural styles. Pictured below are two of the Balinese members of Narwatsu working out drum patterns.

design, screen printing, advanced computer, sewing — some taught by outside teachers. He also encouraged another Bali 9 inmate, SiYi Chin, in starting a silversmith program. If prisoners are able to sell their products, they can keep a small percentage of the proceeds. Myu used his earnings for more equipment. Classes were added in English, music, guitar, reflexology, even dog-grooming and surfboard building. In Kerobokan, good behavior allowed him more visitation and free movement as well as interaction with guards and other inmates. “It has become more like a school than a prison,” Myu recalled just before his execution. By then, he was responsible for managing the workshops, organizing classes, controlling inmate access and making sure the whole operation ran smoothly. He also used his influence to reduce prisoner drug use and make life safer for the women in the prison. In 2011, Myu took up a paintbrush, teaching himself to paint by copying pictures from magazines. In 2012, Myu invited Tina Bailey to teach art and drawing, later adding dance classes. It began a relationship that would last until the end, and would change both teacher and student. “He was a very talented artist,” Bailey said. But it wasn’t always that way. Previous teachers focused on making art that “looked good” and styles that were commercially viable. Bailey urged Myu to paint from his heart. Whether or not a piece is marketable or comports with some external standard is irrelevant, she said. “It needs to be their work. Not everybody is going to become a great artist. There’s a therapeutic aspect to it,” she said. “If they can solve problems with their paintings, they can solve problems in life. We are teaching life lessons with painting.” That approach often makes Bailey more than a teacher. As she gets to know her students, she talks with them about life; she listens; she guides, earning trust. Each Wednesday for the last four years, Tina Bailey has traveled the 45 minutes by taxi from her home to the Kerobokan Prison. She’s in the painting studio from 9:30 a.m. to noon offering advice and conversation. She leads dance class from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Mostly female inmates attend, but the chance D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 /J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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to spend an hour in one of the prison’s few air-conditioned rooms persuades a few men to give it a go. The bulk of Bailey’s ministry takes place outside the prison, however. She and her husband, Jonathan, are integrated into Bali’s rich and diverse arts community, where they teach music and dance classes, conduct visual-art exhibits and collaborate with local musicians to create music in a number of cultural styles for worship and other settings. The Baileys’ unique ministry blends the arts with spirituality. They are careful not to impose their own faith, either in the community or in the prison. “You asked me to come in here as an artist,” Tina Bailey tells inmates. “But they know I am an ordained minister and I’m available in any way [they] need.” For Myu, “painting was his own way of staying mentally healthy,” Bailey explained. “When a lot of visitors were coming in at the end, I would ask him, ‘What do you need me to do, Myu?’ And some days he would say, ‘I just need to paint.’” When Bailey was first invited to teach Myu, she knew she was meeting the leader of the notorious Bali 9. But she was disarmed to learn how he had shut down a riot by inmates in 2012 by blocking their access to the guards’ armory.

When Myu first started painting, “he was a little inhibited for a while,” Bailey noted. “But in the last year of his life, he painted from his heart and his fears. The paintings he made in the last months of his life are world-class.” Eventually his portraits — and especially self-portraits — would become his trademark. Some art critics say those paintings show a vulnerable artist willing to dig deeply into his own pain and fear, and not one embittered by cruel justice. Some of his final paintings were displayed in a special posthumous exhibit in Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. Seven months after the executions, Myu was named Artist of the Year in Australia, a prestigious honor presented by that country’s GQ magazine. Australia’s Curtin University posthumously awarded Myu the associate of fine arts degree that his death prevented him from completing. “He’s probably the most talented artist I’ve ever worked with,” Bailey said. His artwork is now considered a “national treasure” in Australia. He sold one of his paintings to pay for the operation of a female inmate from the Philippines. In January 2015, Myu learned his final clemency appeal had been rejected. “It was the last hope that I had,” Myu said in a final video tribute recorded by friends. “I’m just going to live my life and do what

I’ve committed to do. I don’t think me crying and being stressed is good for my family, and I don’t think it is good for me. I have found my own passion for painting, and every single day I paint and draw, and I feel very sad that I am not going to be able to paint.” On February 2, he and Andrew were put in line for execution. Indonesia ignored a condition of their 2006 verdicts that would reduce their sentences to life in prison if they demonstrated they had been rehabilitated. “Although I do feel guilt for what I did a long time ago, I feel I have paid my debts for my crimes,” Myu said in the video. His execution would serve no purpose, except to allow the country’s political leaders to prove their toughness, he said. Myu apologized to his mother, Raji, “for all the headaches and suffering I have caused. I want to make up for that … so that you don’t have to feel embarrassed any more and you could feel proud of me.” On March 3, Myu and Andrew were removed from Bali to prepare for execution. Other inmates and even some guards cried and saluted the pair as they were led out. The condemned were transported to Nusa Kambangan, about 500 miles from Bali, a few weeks prior to their execution. On the appointed day, those to be executed are led to a jungle clearing, where they are tied to

In the Narwatsu art community, the Baileys blend arts with spirituality and teach classical Balinese art forms while encouraging contemporary exploration as well. (Left) An international community member from Turkey performs with Narwatsu. (Below) An American, a Czech international and a Swiss international perform a song in Javanese. (Right) A dancer performs a classical Balinese dance composed and choreographed for Narwatsu, based on the creation story.

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crosses, blindfolded and shot in the chest. Bailey traveled to Nusa Kambangan three times during the eight weeks Myu and Andrew were held there. The first time she wasn’t allowed in but spent time with his mother in Cilicap, the only nearby town. The second time, she visited Myu at the request of the family, who had to return to Australia. “It was great to see him,” Bailey recalled wistfully. “We had several hours together.” The third trip was for the execution. Waiting at a nearby hotel, Bailey and the others watched TV reports of a chaotic scene. Myu’s mother, father, sister and brother fought through an aggressive crowd of paparazzi, media and protestors to enter the prison for their tearful goodbye. In his final days, Myu’s jailers did grant his last request — to be able to paint as much as possible until the end. He painted feverishly — several self-portraits, a “bleeding” Indonesian flag and a Heart where all those who were to be executed signed the paintings and left their thumbprints in the paint.

Myu’s last request of Bailey was to safeguard those final paintings out of Nusa Kambangan and into his family’s possession in Australia. She did. At the last minute, Bailey was told that pastor Christie Buckingham would serve as witness for Myu and would be joined by Andrew’s childhood pastor from a Salvation Army church. News reports had suggested officials denied the pair their requested witnesses. “I don’t know what the reason was, but I assume it was his decision and not someone else’s and he wanted to spare me,” Bailey said. “I know there was a letter that he wrote to me that I never got.” Written from Nusa Kambangan, the letter probably explained the last-minute change of plans. At midnight April 29, 2015, Myu and Andrew were led into the jungle with six other condemned. All eight refused to be blindfolded and sang “Amazing Grace” before guards opened fire.


Back in Bali, the inmates who counted on Bailey to be their presence at the execution struggled to understand the last-minute change. “It was really hard to try to give comfort to those back in Kerobokan, because they all expected it to be me,” Bailey said. “I tried as best I could to help them feel good about it.” Bailey is still “dismayed” by the saga’s awkward end and hopes Myu’s letter somehow turns up to make sense of it and provide closure. More than a year later, the arts program pioneered by Myu and supported by Bailey continues under the leadership of an inmate from Thailand, Bailey continues mentoring there every week. “My role is being a friend as they try to have a normal life in a place where life is not normal.” While in Bali, Myu had painted a portrait of President Widodo with the inscription “People Can Change.” This sentiment was reflected by his brother, Chintu, when he accepted Myu’s Artist of the Year award in November 2015. “Art was his path to redemption. Myu found a sense of inner peace when he sat in front of a canvas. He used that peace to inspire others and to find a way to do better every day. And even in the darkest places, Myu proved that people can change.”

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The transformation we seek requires a patient, incarnational witness…

…as lay leaders and pastors in China participate in and lead theological training programs alongside CBF field personnel Bill and Michelle Cayard.

…as the Bisu tribe in Thailand works alongside CBF field personnel Kirk and Suzie for more than a dozen years to develop a written language used to translate the New Testament.

…as individuals and families in financial or medical crisis in McCreary County Kentucky walk alongside CBF field personnel and Together for Hope rural poverty advocate Scarlette Jasper.


Go therefore and make

disciples of all nations... MATTHEW 28:19

After more than two decades of Christian witness in 30 countries, CBF stands convinced that there are no shortcuts to making disciples of all nations. Whether translating the Bible into a previously unwritten language, educating Chinese lay leaders and pastors to build the Church and to spread the Gospel or resurrecting hope in rural America, the transformation we seek requires a patient, incarnational witness with others.

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

CBF Global Missions Discovery Booklet (Packs of 20)

CBF 2016-17 OGM Envelopes (Packs of 100)

CBF 2016-17 OGM DVD with video resources

CBF 2015-16 OGM Flashdrive with video resources

Leader’s Guide

2016-17 CBF OGM Bible Study Curriculum for adults, youth and children along with Worship Resources available for download.



he National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc. (NBCA) and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) entered into an historic partnership Oct. 5 to “build an authentic and Christ-like community through shared work.” The partnership was announced at Simmons College of Kentucky in Louisville, Ky., a historically black college founded in 1879 and the new headquarters of NBCA. NBCA is a fellowship of voluntary churches approximating 3.5 million AfricanAmerican Baptists which seeks to holistically impact the world through education, missions and evangelism. CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry eff­orts, global missions and a broad community of support. CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and NBCA President Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., signed the formal memorandum of understanding which stated that the purpose of the partnership is “to begin a conversation that will foster deeper relationships, showcasing the innovative nature of NBCA and CBF, our diverse perspectives and people.” This new relationship stems from a shared history and heritage and more than a decade of previous cooperation between the two groups through the North American Baptist Fellowship (NABF), the regional body of the Baptist World Alliance of which both CBF and NBCA are active members. NBCA and CBF are also active participants in the New Baptist Covenant, an informal alliance launched in 2007 by President Jimmy Carter of more than 30 diverse Baptist organizations to break down barriers between Baptists in North America and pursue justice, reconciliation and transformation. CBF and NBCA will work together to pursue specific areas of mutual ministry including but not limited to: being the presence of Christ in the United States and around the world; social justice and advocacy awareness; race relations, reconciliation and the dismantling of racism in the U.S.; disaster response and long-term recovery planning and engagement; poverty alleviation in rural and

CBF Associate Coordinator of Projects and Services Ron Fairley (left), CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter (center) and Samuel Tolbert, Jr. (right), president of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc., entered into an historic partnership Oct. 5 to build community through shared work. urban areas; and supporting and equipping healthy churches. The two groups will accomplish these purposes of the partnership through methods of cooperation such as consulting and sharing expertise between on matters of operations, networks, missions and ministries; community building and training interactions for the mutual benefit of the two groups; and focus on providing access to events, goods and services. As part of the partnership, Ron Fairley, CBF’s associate coordinator of projects and services, will provide consulting services to NBCA as it relocates its national headquarters from Dallas to Louisville. Paynter expressed her excitement for the partnership with Tolbert and NBCA, noting that the partnership will further the effort to strengthen unity between Baptists of diverse backgrounds and is a reminder of the shared identity of NBCA and CBF. “We celebrate our partnership in the spirit of cooperation, goodwill and common faith,” Paynter said. “We reaffirm our commitment to Baptist values including evangelism, education, helping those in need and promoting religious liberty. Our partnership is an important effort to bring together Baptists from diverse racial, theological and regional backgrounds. “Our efforts today underscore the spiritual and reconciling nature of 2 Corinthians 3:1-3: ‘Are we beginning to commend ourselves?

Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tables of human hearts.’” Tolbert said that the partnership will strengthen the Baptist voice at a critical time. “This new collaborative arrangement will strengthen our Baptist voice, vision and productivity,” Tolbert said. “In a time in the United States when racial tensions are heightened, both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the historically Negro National Baptist Convention of America are a blazing fresh and needed alliance. We are not stronger separated but we are stronger together. This movement is of God and we are riding the wave of the Spirit. Our witness for Jesus Christ and our progress together will become liberating to a society darkened by sin’s grip.” The new partnership began to take shape following the “Great Flood” in August which devastated the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana. Through their disaster relief work together as members of NABF, CBF and NBCA leaders met to plan their long-term recovery efforts in a neglected and concentrated area in Baton Rouge to assist churches and communities impacted by the floods. At the invitation of Tolbert, Fairley spoke at the 136th Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention of America on Sept. 14 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to share about the emerging partnership between the groups and the participation of CBF and NBCA through the NABF Disaster Relief Network. During a Sept. 17 visit to CBF’s headquarters in Decatur, Ga., Fairley and Paynter presented Tolbert with a contribution on behalf of the Fellowship to provide 100 of NBCA’s disaster response resource manuals to 100 pastors of the NBCA. This meeting initiated the formal partnership agreement announced Oct. 5. To learn more about the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc., visit

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f the wealth of an average African-American family continues to grow at the same pace it has over the last three decades, it will take black families 228 years to acquire the amount of wealth that average white families have in 2016.

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According to the Institute for Policy Studies report, that’s only 17 years shorter than the 245-year span of slavery in the United States. In fact, the wealthiest 100 members of the Forbes list alone own as much wealth as the entire African American population combined. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church and president of the historically black Simmons College of Kentucky in Louisville, Ky., and the spearheading voice in the EmpowerWest movement in Louisville, says that if the church desires reconciliation, it must engage in the true work of racial justice — putting power into the hands of the black community for the creation of its own cultural space, wealth and strength. “Centuries of oppression have created a wealth gap, a power gap between the white and black communities,” Cosby said. “Integration was the process in which white America made very limited space for blacks who would accept space in a white world with positions but with no power. It was the process that said black people needed to be saved from blackness, from their culture — not saved in their culture. It destroyed the collective strength of the black community and the wealth remained in white hands. Our goal is to empower black people in black space.” With black empowerment at the heart of their mission, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches across Louisville, as well as leaders of CBF Kentucky, are forming together with Cosby, St. Stephen Church and Simmons College through EmpowerWest. Through education, community development and economic advocacy, EmpowerWest is partnering to renew the black community of West Louisville and help close the wealth gap between black and white Americans.

At an EmpowerWest summit held at St. Stephen Church, CBF Kentucky Coordinator Rhonda Blevins shared about asset-based community development approach through the illustration of various individuals representing a single ingredient or tool to make a sandwich, but that sandwich can only be complete when resources and capacities come together toward a common goal.

Before EmpowerWest became a movement, however, it began late in 2014 as a weekly conversation between Cosby and local CBF pastors, including Chris Caldwell, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in East Louisville. Despite a strong desire to take action, Caldwell explained, he and other white pastors primarily listened and allowed black leaders to do 80 percent of the talking. “White guilt doesn’t really get you very far, but white honesty does,” Caldwell said. “You come to the table with plenty of humility and ready to be honest about your perception of the world, about the facts of history. For instance, prior to the Great Recession, the ratio of white wealth to black wealth was 8-to-1; now it stands at 15-to-1. Even though East Louisville, where I live, has roughly the

same population as that of West Louisville — 60,000 people — West Louisville has no hotels. I can’t even count the number of hotels in East Louisville.” After months of conversation and learning, the goal of EmpowerWest was clear. Churches and leaders — white, black or otherwise — would begin efforts to empower the disenfranchised community in West Louisville and work together to develop its economic assets and help unleash its potential. EmpowerWest began with a business fair at St. Stephen Church, where CBF churches and other congregations across the city gathered to meet and learn about black businesses in West Louisville. Furthermore, EmpowerWest created “Stokely’s List,” a complete database of more than 50 black

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businesses designed to funnel dollars into the black economy of West Louisville. Whether they needed a caterer, dry cleaner, beauty products or legal representation, churches and individuals could now be part of infusing West Louisville with capital. In one of the most poignant expressions of EmpowerWest, Caldwell even utilized Stokely’s List to obtain funeral arrangements for his father, who passed away early in 2016, through A.D. Porter and Sons Funeral Home. Kevin Cosby says it is expressions of partnership like this, not charity, that allow white communities and individuals to become part of a black empowerment movement as servant helpers. “Black power is not about black people having control over white people; it’s about black people having control over themselves,” Cosby said. “Most civil rights activism and even the Black Lives Matter movement attempt to find justice for black people in white space. I want

justice, but I want to do what other ethnic groups have done — to create our own space and then use that space as a foundation and a power base to enter into a pluralistic America, but not to lose sacred black space. Black power is simply black people controlling the economics, the education and the politics that create and determine their lives.” Alongside ongoing efforts to infuse West Louisville with economic capital, EmpowerWest is also creating educational opportunities for churches, organizations and even students to learn about black empowerment. In January, congregations across Louisville gathered at St. Stephen for worship and dialogue facilitated by renowned Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, who continued the conversation about racial justice and prophetic tradition. In March, Edward Baptist, professor of history at Cornell University, facilitated a similar event on the legacy of capitalism and slavery in the United States at Simmons College.

While Cooperative Baptists partner with Simmons College, undergraduate students are also engaging with EmpowerWest through CBF’s Student.Go missions program. Demetrius Gunn, a sophomore at Simmons, spent the summer of 2016 learning asset-based community development through Student.Go and how a new generation of young leaders can continue the work of empowering black communities like West Louisville. Gunn was raised by his grandfather in West Louisville and says he knows all too well the conditions that have caused the black community to forget its gifts, strengths and worth. Through identifying the strengths already present in the businesses, churches and individuals in West Louisville, Gunn said he and other leaders can begin to call on a broken-hearted community to claim its assets and fulfill its God-given purpose. “We need people to help us resurrect those things that have died in our community,” Gunn said.


Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church and president of Simmons College in Louisville, Ky., addresses the EmpowerWest summit.

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“West Louisville is a community that is devastated, that is depressed, that is angry, that is frustrated, because we have no opportunities. And we aren’t just divided from white people; we are divided from ourselves, from our own worth. We have to get to the point where we can look in the mirror and say ‘I’m somebody. I’m not ugly; I’m beautiful.’ We need jobs. We need to come together and get our community back.” As the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship forms together with black leaders and organizations in Louisville and across the state, it will continue to utilize asset-based community development and place economic empowerment at the forefront, noted CBF Kentucky Coordinator Rhonda Blevins. Moving forward, CBF Kentucky plans to proliferate the EmpowerWest model among black and white churches in a four-year partnership commitment designed to help individual congregations empower other black communities beyond West Louisville.

A panel of EmpowerWest coalition participants at a summit held at St. Stephen Church. This was the first event together, announcing the coalition and inviting parishioners from the various congregations represented to come together for the empowerment of the residents of West Louisville.

(Left) Joe Phelps, pastor of CBF partner congregation Highland Baptist Church in Louisville and Jason Crosby (Below), co-pastor of CBF partner congregation Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville speak at the first-ever EmpowerWest summit.

Ultimately, Blevins said, seeking racial justice means upholding the Fellowship’s deep commitment to partnership and to helping the black community create its own power. “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship values partnership; it’s in our DNA,” Blevins emphasized. “We founded a Fellowship understanding that we would need to come alongside strong partners in order to do anything worth doing in this world. Cultivating that partnership, that beloved community, is at the heart of what we’re doing with EmpowerWest. If folks on the east end of Louisville really care about the west end, it all boils down to empowerment, not to having all the answers or solving problems. We get to be a part of this work because we understand the importance of having black people, black institutions and black leaders leading the effort of empowering the black community.”

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

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By Carrie McGuffin


uring the week of October 16-23, Fellowship churches and individuals set aside intentional times of celebration to honor the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 25th Anniversary. Through special worship services, mission projects, Bible studies, state and regional gatherings and other special events, this CBF Celebration Week was an opportunity for Cooperative Baptists across the country and around the world to thank God for the past 25 years and look forward to our future as a Fellowship. This inaugural celebration week brought CBF staff, churches and individuals together around the idea of Cooperative Christianity and the power of “&” that has become a symbol for the 25th Anniversary celebration and campaign. For the past 25 years, CBF has been a witness to the power of “&” as we have joined with churches, individuals and global partners to renew God’s world. We have built our identity on “&” because our God is an ampersand God — Father, Son & Holy Spirit — and because Cooperative Christianity is an ampersand endeavor. As a Fellowship, our story is richer, fuller and more vibrant when it is woven together with the stories and movements of other Christians, people and partners in our local communities and around the world. Across the Fellowship, we celebrated the many ways ampersand theology has shaped this body over the past 25 years through CBF birthday parties, special Bible studies, shared prayers, Fellowshipfocused worship services and special gifts to the 25th Anniversary Campaign. The $12-million campaign focuses on the long-lasting benefits of increasing CBF’s endowments to support three goals that have been priorities throughout our 25-year history: sustaining the long-term presence of field personnel ($6 million), forming healthy churches ($4 million) and nurturing young Baptists ($2 million). The campaign will also provide generous grants to CBF states and regions to support their ministries in these three areas.

Learn more about the Campaign and find resources to continue celebrating with your church at

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During CBF Celebration Week, churches and individuals from across the Fellowship expressed their passion for CBF through showing their pride for ampersand-driven Cooperative Christianity and throwing birthday parties for the Fellowship. (Top left) The CBF office in Decatur, Ga., was filled with ampersands and pride for Cooperative Christianity throughout the week. (Top center) CBF Ministries staff gathered together around the six CBF attributes at a staff celebration. (Top right) Terry Maples, coordinator of CBF Virginia, and Jay Kieve, coordinator of CBF of South Carolina, celebrated the work of their state organizations together. (Second row left) Children at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Ga., threw a CBF birthday party. (Second row right) CBF staff member Kevin Pranoto showed his excitement for Cooperative Christianity. (Third row left) Alabama CBF coordinator Terri Byrd and Associate Coordinator Lucas Dorion sent a “Happy Birthday� celebration week message to the Fellowship. (Bottom left) CBF Global Missions staff huddled around the CBF attributes at a staff-wide celebration. (Bottom right) CBF-partner Passport, Inc. staff showed their support for Cooperative Christianity around an ampersand.


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dvent is a season of hopeful expectation. A time when the church holds her breath in anticipation of Emmanuel — God with us. May these resources for any age help you prepare the way until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you. —Joshua Speight, CBF Missional Congregations Resources Manager

Ideas for families and teachers of young children CREATE CHRISMONS — Chrismons, ornaments which represent Christian symbols, were first developed by France Spencer and the women of the Ascencion Lutheran Church in Danville, Va. The word “Chrismon” is actually a contraction for “Christ monogram.” A simple internet search can lead you to websites which will give you examples of Chrismons (which are usually gold and white) with directions and patterns to create them. As an Advent activity, you might create some simple Chrismons, discussing the meaning of the symbols as you do so, and even display them on a Chrismon tree.

ADVENT CALENDAR — What better way to anticipate the coming of Christmas and the arrival of the Christ Child than an Advent Calendar? Purchase or make an Advent calendar. Need some ideas? A simple internet search for “Advent Calendar DIY” will help. — Meg Lacy, North Carolina

PRESENT FOR JESUS — Find an empty bag, box or basket. Find something shiny or yellow that reminds you of gold. Use something fragrant (like an air freshener) to represent frankincense. Pour a small amount of oil into a small container or sealable bag to represent myrrh. Put these three gifts in your bag, label the present with Jesus’ name, and open it again on Christmas Day. — Heather Burke, South Carolina

CREATE A JESSE TREE — A Jesse Tree is a decorative tree used


during Advent to retell the stories of the Bible that lead to Jesus’ birth. Since Advent is a season of waiting, a Jesse Tree will help to build joy and anticipation as you wait for the birth of Christ. Jesse Trees have three main parts: the tree itself, symbolic ornaments and scripture readings to coincide with them. Each day, a new ornament is placed on the tree and a passage is read. These simple ornaments can be crafted together to create a family tradition to retell the story of Advent each year.

children around the church to the adult classes to sing Christmas Carols. — Tommy Bratton, North Carolina

CROWD AT THE CRECHE — Do you display a nativity in your congregation during Advent and Christmas? One way to demonstrate the inclusivity of your congregation is to invite each family to bring something small from their home (a toy, memento or treasure) that represents them to place in the manger. You could invite everyone to bring their offering during a special part of worship. This display turns into a beautiful picture of God’s diverse creation at the manger during Advent. Note: be sure to have people label their treasures and set a date to retrieve their items after the holiday. — Katie Cook/Seeds of Hope, Texas

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Ideas for small groups ADVENT CONSPIRACY — Feeling bogged down by the busyness and consumerism of December? Check out for ideas on how to simplify this season and keep Christ at the center of the celebration by spending less, giving more relationally, worshipping fully and loving all. — Meg Lacy, North Carolina

USE SOCIAL MEDIA — Share an image inspired by scripture on social media pages each day of Advent. Complement these images with a challenge in the comment section to read the associated passage of scripture and then apply it. The goal is to engage the group in common reading and application during their daily living of the season. — Josh Beeler, Tennessee




“Active Advent” for students and families

Ideas for observing an “Active Advent”

Advent is a time of waiting and, for many of our students and their families, waiting is boring. We wait at the grocery store. We wait for a table at a restaurant. We wait for the bell to ring at school. The waiting of Advent is not like this though. We’re not pacing back and forth or checking through our phones in the lobby. Instead, Advent is supposed to be intentional and active waiting. This year for Advent, maybe youth ministry can take a different tone. Being active is usually not difficult for students, but maybe students can see their activity as a part of something larger. The youth ministry of First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Va., has built a tradition of a Christmas Progressive Dinner. Students and adult volunteers enjoy a course at each home and learn about that particular family’s Christmas traditions. As we move from house-to-house, the youth minister always says, “We need to go. The next family is waiting for us!” — Ben Brown, Virginia

HOST A FAIR-TRADE MARKET— Partner with local businesses

Advent reminds us that we are all richly blessed not only by the miraculous gift of the Christ Child, but also in the resources within our churches and families. During Advent, as you actively await the arrival of the Christ Child, spend a few minutes taking inventory of what resources you have as a church and as a family. Is there a children’s curriculum you could pass on to a smaller church who doesn’t have a curriculum budget? Did your church get new hymnals or baptismal robes in the past year? Can the used ones be passed on to a church who has experienced a flood, fire or natural disaster in the past year? Does your family have shoes, clothes and toys you have outgrown that would make Christmas for a family who doesn’t have expendable income? Asking these questions helps us remember that awaiting the Christ Child is awaiting the kingdom of God here on earth, of which we have been invited to be a part through open hearts, open minds and open hands. — Merianna Harrelson, South Carolina

that support fair-trade and fair-business models. Encourage your congregation to buy gifts for others that make a difference. Consider how to partner with CBF field personnel for gift giving through a “Give-More Store” where a percentage of items purchased will go to the CBF Offering for Global Missions.

Advent Meditations READ MATTHEW 15:32-37 Reflection: Did you notice how concerned Jesus was about the people? He had been teaching them and healing them. He knew they were hungry; so he fed them. And there was enough for everyone! God wants us also to feed those who are hungry. Prayer: God, help those who are hungry have food. Thank you for the food you have given my family. Amen. Activity: Donate food to a local pantry.

READ MATTHEW 9:35-38 Reflection: Everyone at some time needs someone who can help them. In this story, Jesus knew that he was only one person and he needed more people to help others. That’s what Jesus asks us to do. Help other people! Prayer: God, as we prepare for Christmas, help us to prepare ourselves to do the work you want us to do. Amen. Activity: Make Christmas cookies and share them with someone. — Carrie Veal, North Carolina

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 /J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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Opportunities to

December 2016

CBF field personnel Tina Bailey builds relationships and engagement though art in Indonesia.


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

Transformation and Reconciliation IN WORSHIP: A LITANY Missions Education Resource

The litany below is designed to be used in a worship service or as part of a small group or Bible study to support mission education.


Leader: We are a people of transformation. When we have experienced Christ, we see life anew. The old has passed away, and the new has come.

Learn more about the work of Jonathan and Tina Bailey at

People: We are new creations in Christ. We give up our old lives and embrace a new way of life.


Leader: No longer do we conform to this world. A wellspring of hope pours from God’s people. God’s will is to be done, overflowing from our abundance of grace.

Pray for the Baileys and other CBF field personnel using CBF’s prayer guide, Prayers of the People. Download the PDF at

People: We have been transformed by God’s grace. We share that grace freely with the world. Leader: In world that is thirsty, Christ offers living water.

NETWORK Information about the new CBF Global Missions funding model is available at

GIVE Your gifts to the CBF Offering for Global Missions secures the long-term presence of field personnel. Donate online at

People: We drink deeply and pour freely. Leader: In a world that is hungry, Christ offers the bread of life. People: We answer the call to feed God’s people. Leader: In a world that is dying, Christ offers eternal life. People: We are a people who bear witness to transformation. Light can overcome darkness. Leader: With one heart and one way, God is our God and we are God’s people. We will not turn away. People: Amen.

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Opportunities to

January 2017

CBF Kentucky Coordinator Rhonda Blevins is helping CBF churches partner with EmpowerWest to bring justice to Louisville and other communities.


Visit for additional Opportunities to Affect, including: At Home: Around the Table At Church: Missions Moment

LEARN Learn more about EmpowerWest at

PRAY Pray for ministries, churches and needs around the world using CBF’s prayer guide, Prayers of the People. Download the PDF at

NETWORK Explore opportunities to join a network of support and service at

GIVE Your gifts to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship foster missional engagement in partner churches and ministries. Give online at

Justice and Empowerment 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. 22-25 in this issue of fellowship! and gather copies for participants. Prior to the meeting, copy the following statements on a chalk or white board or poster — or make individual copies for participants. “Black power is not about black people having control over white people; it’s about black people having control over themselves.” (Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church and President of Simmons College of Kentucky, Louisville, Ky.) 2. Begin the session by asking participants to react to this statement. 3. Following a brief discussion, introduce the session by reading the opening paragraphs of the article — ending with “Our goal is to empower black people in black space.” 4. Briefly describe the EmpowerWest movement and its mission.

and ask them to scan the article for information and be ready to report to the large group after 10-12 minutes. • Beginning Steps of EmpowerWest • Educational Actions • Community Development/Economic Actions 6. Reconvene the group and ask for reports. Be prepared to add information as needed. 7. Ask: “How does EmpowerWest support the two statements we read at the beginning of the session?” 8. Use statements by Rhonda Blevins, CBF Kentucky Coordinator to discuss the role of CBF in partnerships like EmpowerWest and the four-year partnership with communities beyond West Louisville. 9. Ask: How can we use ideas from the story of EmpowerWest to seek racial reconciliation and justice in our own community — personally and as a congregation? 10. Close with prayer for the leaders of EmpowerWest, the Louisville community and the goal of reconciliation and justice for African Americans in our country.

5. Divide the participants into three groups. Assign one of the following topics to each group

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 /J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030 (800) 352-8741

Give the gift of Christ this year When you support CBF Global Missions, you support a new translation of the New Testament — 18 years in the making.

GIVE TO CBF TODAY. Online at Call 800.352.8741 or Text “CBF” to 41444

CBF field personnel Kirk and Suzie worked for more than a decade to develop a written language with the Bisu Tribe in Thailand. The new language was used to translate the New Testament.

fellowship! magazine - Dec 2016/Jan 2017  
fellowship! magazine - Dec 2016/Jan 2017