A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net
SUZII PAYNTER is Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziiSYP.
An Embarrassment of Riches NO MATTER WHERE I go people ask, “What is something great about the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship?” My answer, invariably, is this: “CBF has an embarrassment of riches.” Our riches are flesh and blood. We have large numbers of young clergy, laypeople and students eager to invest their lives in meaningful missions and ministry. Talented and well-prepared clergy are indispensable for fostering congregations that have the vitality to positively impact entire communities and inspire authentic disciples. We are embarrassingly rich in young leaders who are flourishing in local churches and in global settings. Well, “flourishing” may be overstating the case. Soaring student loan debt, inadequate salaries, minimal insurance coverage and under-funded retirement plans create stress for pastors and pastoral leaders in other staff positions and can divert their energy from effective and rewarding ministry. To provide a pathway for the future, we need to assess the fiscal health of pastors and their families, identify the economic challenges that threaten it and design innovative programs to ease these challenges. We rely on autonomy for many things, but as a Fellowship we can marshal the power of scale and mobilize to address this essential need. Yet it feels uncomfortable for many ministers and their congregations to openly discuss the material goods necessary for both a minister and the congregation to flourish. It seems easier to avoid talking about issues of faith and money and to allow the economic challenges facing pastors to continue to multiply by default. In most settings we suffer from an embarrassment about riches and the realities of the extended dialogue about the resources that are required to meet the economic challenges facing pastoral leaders. For example: One pastor in our Fellowship’s first cancer diagnosis came shortly after he accepted his congregation’s call to serve as their pastor. The tumor that
doctors removed was “more virulent than expected,” and cancer cells reappeared within five years. Thirty-nine radiation treatments followed, administered daily, Monday through Friday. The cost was a staggering $129,000. Our embarrassment of riches is also our call to stewardship for talented and well-prepared clergy. We can do so much more together if we tackle economic challenges as a united fellowship. Based on a model from a 2005 study, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and conducted at the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education, CBF is confronting challenges like educational debt from college and seminary costs our pastors carry, and the influence it can have on recruiting, training and sustaining clergy. The consequences discovered by Lilly are striking. New pastors are increasingly unable to accept positions in small churches, and some have delayed healthcare coverage for themselves or their families. Beginning immediately, CBF will design programs to advance four aims: • To make congregations more aware of the economic pressures on pastors and the potential trickledown effects of those pressures. • To create a Ministerial Excellence Fund (MEF), launched with Lilly Endowment seed money and supported by congregational contributions, to address pastors’ pressing needs. • To provide educational opportunities for clergy families to strengthen their financial-management skills. • To begin building financial resources to sustain the project after the Lilly Endowment initiative ends. Our embarrassment of riches in pastoral leadership is real. The economic challenges of our times are real as well. I am encouraged by the reported success of the Lilly program of 2005 and wish to see the same effects in congregations across our Fellowship. The impact on individual pastors who have benefited from the MEF grants of 2005
is obvious and sometimes quantifiable. Mark Rennaker, who directs the HOPE Project of The Wesleyan Church, makes a “before” and “after” comparison. “When we first asked our pastors about their economic challenges, their responses broke my heart,” Rennaker said. “These were my colleagues in ministry, and they were using words like ‘depression’ and ‘conflict.’ The ‘after’ scenario is far more optimistic. It’s been a joy to watch the change. I read their success stories and hear them say, ‘I feel like I can breathe again.’ Pastors have renewed energy and are more confident and competent about preaching on financial matters.” A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Volume 26, Number 1
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 PHONE (770) 220-1600
LOVE GOD. TEACH NEIGHBOR. BE TRANSFORMED. CBF field personnel share Christ’s great love through literacy ministry in Slovakia By Blake Tommey
FROM THE EDITOR
LILLY ENDOWMENT GRANT
THE COOPERATIVE BAPTIST Fellowship celebrates an abundance of dedicated and engaged clergy, lay leaders and congregations. Within this issue, you’ll learn about the many ways that CBF ministers and churches are growing together — in spirit, in mission and in ministry. You’ll also learn about the ways that CBF is investing in the health of ministers and congregations through both new and established initiatives. Through the Offering for Global Missions, Dawnings and Student.Church, CBF has been investing in innovative ministries across the United States and around the world. With the new CBF Sabbatical Initiative and grant funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc., CBF is doubling down on its investment in the health and longevity of leaders across the Fellowship. In the pages that follow, read stories of renewal, imagination, excitement and commitment. Find your story in these pages as you see the many ways that Cooperative Baptists young and old, clergy and laity, student and life-long learner are forming together as the body of Christ. A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net
CBF receives grant to address economic challenges facing clergy By CBF Communications
HEALTHY CHURCH, HEALTHY COMMUNITY New Orleans congregation builds community in historical building By Carrie McGuffin
STUDENT.CHURCH CBF Vestal Scholar ministers cross-culturally in Puerto Rico By Emily Holladay
GENEROUS FELLOWSHIP By Jeff Huett Couple’s stewardship extends to “all” they have
16 STRENGTH IN NUMBERS By Ashleigh Bugg CBF Peer Learning Group offers place of relationship and growth
18 EXPERIENCING THE DAWN By Carrie McGuffin AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at email@example.com
CARRIE MCGUFFIN is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org
CBF congregations grow spiritually together through Dawnings
REST AND RENEWAL By Carrie McGuffin and Aaron Weaver CBF invests in the health of ministers and churches through new Sabbatical Initiative
30 AFFECT: FEBRUARY 2016 Literacy Ministry
31 AFFECT: MARCH 2016 Student.Church
F E B R UA R Y/ M A R C H 2 0 1 6
prayerspeople of the
Practicing Compassion By Bo Prosser
his is the time of year when many of us think compassionately about our world. Many of our churches are doing collections of many kinds — food, coats, sleeping bags — to be compassionate to neighbors in our cities. Practicing compassion moves us from just thinking to doing, from just donating to serving. Settle into your prayer space and open your heart to the pain and tragedy of the world. This may be your own personal pain; but more, this is sensitivity to the world’s pain. Don’t ignore the pain or turn away from it. Embrace the pain, moving toward it in the same way that Jesus responded to the paralyzed man at the pool or the woman at the well. Next, pray for God to make you aware of places where your compassion can be shared. Compassion increases our capacity to care, to share, to make a difference. We practice compassion with humility and with sensitivity to those around us. Caring for those in personal pain is not easy. Being an instrument of compassionate healing is not often received well. So pray for awareness, pray for the right attitude and pray for an opportunity to share. Next, speak a prayer to God that you might have compassion for yourself. As we become aware of the pain around us, we also become more attuned to our own pain. So ask God for the ability for self-care as you care for others. This is not a selfish asking; this is seeing that we are part of the masses crying out for the healing touch of Jesus. Now, pray for one or two of the names on the prayer calendar. These are also people practicing compassion every day as they share mission and ministry in a variety of settings. These individuals need us to pray for them as they serve. Pray for their strength, pray for their service and pray that they too may find compassionate self-care. May we all be blessed by the compassionate touch of the Christ who holds us gently and cares so deeply.
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 Planter S = CBF Staff
FEBRUARY 2016 1 Susan Collins, Stone Mountain, GA (CH) Carrie Dean, Atlanta, GA (CST) Brad Jackson, Springfield, OH (CH) James Touchton, Ithaca, NY (CH) 2 Joe Alverson, Nicholasville, KY (CH) John Fogarty, Freeport, FL (CST) Terry Tatro, Louisville, KY (CH) 3 Richard Dayringer, Grove, OK (PC) William Elliott, Lexington, KY (CH) 4 Delores Kay Smith, Hickory, NC (CH) 5 Brian Cleveland, New Orleans, LA (CH) Joanna Tarr, Norfolk, VA (CH) 6 Donn Poole, The Villages, FL (CST) 8 John Boyles, Lynchburg, VA (CH) Biju Chacko, Morrisville, NC (CH) Larry Johnson, Midlothian, VA (CH) 9 Shaquisha Barnes, Durham, NC (CH) Nathan Cooper, Greenville, SC (CH) Ray Johnson (S-Florida) Jo Kirkendall, Biloxi, MS (CH) Elizabeth Milazzotto, Louisville, KY (PC) Willie Smith, Fredericksburg, VA (CH) 10 Karen Estle, Indianapolis, IN (PC) James Rentz, Spartanburg, SC (PC) Sam Southard, Naples, FL (PC) Cynthia Thomas, Houston, TX (CH) 11 Lauralee Estes, Northport, AL (PC) Tom Everett, Yorktown, VA (CH) Katee Harris, Rose Hill, NC (CH) Will Runyon, Maryville, TN (CH) Rick Stevenson, Odenton, MD (CH) 12 Sasha Zivanov, St. Louis, MO (FP) 13 Dianne Swaim, North Little Rock, AR (CH) 14 Roger Bolton, Conyers, GA (PC) Charla Littell, Burlington, NC (CH) 15 Tolly Williamson, Decatur, GA (CH) 16 Rebecca Hewitt-Newson, Glendale, CA (CH) 17 Nancy James, Haiti (FP) 18 Edward Fleming, Winston-Salem, NC (CH) Jean Pruett, Charlotte, NC (CH) 20 Amanda Ducksworth, Columbus, MS (CH/CST) Younsoo Park, Aiea, HI (CH) 21 Rebecca Church, Louisville, KY (CH) Wesley Craig, San Antonio, TX (CST) Linda McComb, Clinton, MS (CH) Jeffery Thompson, Gainesville, GA (CH) 22 Stephanie McLeskey, Mars Hill, NC (CH) 23 Michelle Robinson, Columbia, SC (CH) 24 Edwin Badillo, Levittown, Puerto Rico (CH) Danny Tomlinson, Belton, TX (CH) 25 Lindell Anderson, Fort Worth, TX (CH) Rick Foster, Lynchburg, VA (CH) Craig Janney (S-Decatur) Mira Zivanov, St. Louis, MO (FP) 26 Christa Chappelle, High Point, NC (CH) Rodney Craggs, Louisville, KY (CH) Sheryl Johnson, Richmond, VA (CH) Louise Mason, Richmond, VA (CH) 27 Linda Moore, Greenville, NC (CH)
MARCH 2016 1 Brent Peery, Conroe, TX (CH) Chris Scales, Lubbock, TX (CH) 2 Michael Patterson, Harker Heights, TX (CH) Laurice Rogers, Hodgenville, KY (PC) Hector Villaneuva, Siler City, NC (CST) Glenn Williams, Louisville, KY (PC) 3 David Bosley, Vienna, VA (CH) 4 Ed Lemmond, Athens, TN (CH) Jane Martin, Emeritus (FP) 5 Buddy Corbin, Asheville, NC (CH) Ray Higgins (S-Arkansas) 5 Donnie Marlar, Rochester, NY (CH) 6 Ronnie Adams, New York City, NY (FP) Jarrod Foerster, St. Augustine, FL (CH) Chad Hawkins, Pearland, TX (CH) 7 Duane Binkley, De Soto, KS (FP) Laura Foushee, Japan (FP) Wade Rowatt, Louisville, KY (PC) 8 Marian Boyer, Nottingham, MD (CH) Isaac Pittman, 1999, Miami, FL (FPC) 9 Stuart Collier, Vestavia, AL (CH) Sarah Mitchell (S-North Carolina) Michelle Norman, Spain (FP) 10 Dean Akers, Schweinfurt, Germany (CH) Cindy Bishop, Piedmont, SC (CH) 11 Julia Flores, Lynchburg, VA (CH) Lisa Nisbet, Louisville, KY (PC) Ronald Nordon, Frederick, MD (CH) Beth Ogburn, Oklahoma City, OK (CH) Rebekah Ramsey, Concord, NC (CH) 12 Jim Crumpler (S-North Central Region) 14 Mary Beth Caffey, Lewiston, ME (CST) 15 Carita Brown, Catonsville, MD (CH) Mary van Rheenen, Netherlands (FP) 16 Rebekah Ayers (S-North Carolina) Trisha Miller Manarin (S-Mid-Atlantic) 17 Mary Gessner, Madison, AL (PC) 18 Dodie Huff-Fletcher, Louisville, KY (PC) Gregory Qualls, Mooresboro, NC (CH) Beth Riddick, Fredericksburg, VA (CH) David Robinson, Newport News, VA (PC) 19 Jennifer Bordenet, Orlando, FL (CH) Kim Schmitt, Fayetteville, GA (CH) 20 Anna Allred, Asheboro, NC (CH) Cynthia Corey, Brunswick, GA (CH) William Hemphill, Stone Mountain, GA (CH) 21 Walter Jackson, Louisville, KY (PC) Alan Melton, Waynesboro, VA (PC) Michael Strickland, Falls Church, VA (CH) Aaron Weaver (S-Decatur) 22 Michelle Ballard (S-Decatur) 23 J. Claude Huguley, Nashville, TN (CH) 24 Michael Gross, Roswell, GA (CH) Kevin Quiles, Canton, GA (CH) Mark Spain, Canyon Lake, TX (CH) Todd Walter, Inman, SC (CH) 25 Jade Acker, Uganda (FP) Bryan Cottrell, Abilene, TX (CH) Gary Nistler, Oak Ridge, TN (CH) 26 Gale Dollar, Glen Carbon, IL (CH) 27 Ken Chapman, Jefferson City, MO (CH) David Gladson, Pendleton, SC (CH) Amy Karriker, Great Falls, MT (CH) Joshua Witt, Jefferson City, TN (CH) 28 Lynda Schupp, Corinth, TX (CH) Megan Whitley, 2002, France (FPC) 29 Phil McCarley, Charles Town, WV (CH) Michael Shea, Mars Hill, NC (CH) 30 Phyllis Borchert, Oakridge, TN (CH) John Emmart, Stoughton, WI (CH) Layne Rogerson, Winterville, NC (CH) 31 Dale Cross, Lawrenceville, GA (CH) William Davidson, Wetumpka, AL (CH) Tim Madison, Clearwater, FL (CH)
ellowship Stewarding ‘all’ we have By Jeff Huett Without meaning to, Jeanette Cothran recently delivered one of those one-sentence sermons that sends the crowd home early. Her comment actually was in a conversation with me and John, her husband, but her description of true stewardship was profound nonetheless: “I strongly believe that stewardship is what we do with all we have.” All we have. For John and Jeanette, that stewardship is personal and extends to their financial investment in the missions and ministries of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as well as leadership in their congregation, First Baptist Greenville, S.C.; in their CBF state organization, CBF of South Carolina; and all along the way as CBF became what we now know as CBF. The Cothrans champion historic Baptist principles. John, a former member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee from 1980-1988, led the finance committee of the early leadership bodies of CBF, including the Interim Steering Committee which became the first Coordinating Council. John and Jeanette have served alongside CBF field personnel on the mission field and have helped tell the story of global mission involvement at First Baptist Greenville. The church has a long history of global outreach through missions with former pastor Hardy Clemons and former pastoral care minister Donna Forrester having served as CBF moderators. In South Carolina, John was a member of the founding coordinating council of CBF South Carolina. He served as moderator of the state organization in the late 1990s. Making an impact in Global Missions has been a special interest to the Cothrans. After serving his term on the CBF Coordinating Council, John was appointed as an at-large member of the council and served on the Global Missions Ministry Group. Jeanette has always been interested in and involved with missions, beginning when she was a G.A. She continued her involvement serving at First Baptist Greenville as the WMU director and as president of Baptist Women. Jeanette helps tell the story of the Lula Whilden World Missions Offering at First Baptist Greenville by serving on the committee that promotes the offering. FBC’s Lula Whilden Offering
John and Jeannete Cothran are dedicated partners in mission and ministry with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, stewarding all they have to support CBF missions and ministries.
supports CBF ministry through the Offering for Global Missions. Whilden was a member of First Baptist, and according to information in a promotional flier distributed by the church, she was the “first single female career missionary” appointed by the Southern Baptist Convention to China, serving in Canton from 1872 to 1914. “Making our congregation aware of the Lula Whilden connection has developed more interest in the offering,” Jeanette said. John, whose father was a Baptist minister, said that while he is pleased with the way CBF has evolved since its founding, it is vital that CBF stands for freedom — Bible freedom and soul freedom. That is, freedom to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and freedom to relate directly to God without outside control. He said his and Jeanette’s relationship with CBF has strengthened over time as they have developed a network of friends across the Fellowship. “As Cooperative Baptists, we can disagree without being disagreeable,” John said. “We understand that we are free to say what we believe. We can have fellowship. If we disagree, we disagree.” Their relationship with CBF has also strengthened because they appreciate their connection with an organization that “does church and missions the right way,” he said. “CBF goes to the most neglected parts of the world.” That connection includes financial investment. “One of the reasons we give is because we have been blessed by God in so many ways,” Jeanette said. “Giving is our response of gratitude to God for what he has given us.” John, who served on the CBF Foundation Board for six years, continued, “Personal involvement in any organization invariably leads to more financial support. If you are committed enough to invest time in the organization, the funds will follow.”
JEFF HUETT is the CBF Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHuett.
For more information about giving to CBF, go to www.cbf.net/GiveNow or contact Jeff Huett (770-220-1600 or email@example.com). F E B R UA R Y/ M A R C H 2 0 1 6
Baugh Foundation announces $1 million gift in support of CBF ministry
Babs Baugh (right) pictured with daughters Julie Baugh Cloud (left) and Jackie Baugh Moore (center) support the Fellowship through generous giving.
By Jeff Huett DECATUR, Ga. — The Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation has announced a $1 million gift to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to support the Fellowship’s ministries to nurture young Baptists, help form healthy congregations and sustain long-term field personnel presence in Global Missions. “It is a joy to give to CBF — a place where we don’t have to think alike but we are expected to think — a place where selfless missionaries express God’s great love for the least of these — a place where laughter and hugs are encouraged and shared — a place where truth and integrity are valued — a place where one can feel at home,” Babs Baugh said in announcing the gift. “Why would I not want to be a part of this place?” Jackie Baugh Moore, a member of the Baugh Foundation Board and the CBF Missions Council, said the Baugh Foundation “feels called to support these innovative CBF ministries and prays that others will follow the same call.” “Because CBF is focused on forming healthy congregations and nurturing a culture of call in young Baptists, we have an opportunity to make a difference in individual lives,” Moore said. “Because CBF is focused on our hurting world, we have an opportunity to impact brothers and sisters that we have never seen through CBF Global Missions.” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter expressed appreciation to Babs and her husband, John Jarrett, as well as Julie Baugh Cloud and Jackie Baugh Moore, her daughters, for the impact that the Baugh Foundation has made through its longtime support of CBF.
“No family in Baptist life has had a greater impact in helping people and churches fulfill their God-given mission than the Baughs,” Paynter said. “I give thanks to God for their witness and for their attitude of service.” For young Baptists, the Baugh Foundation gift will support theological education as well as practical ministry experience through Student.Go and Student.Church. Student.Go provides opportunities for students to serve with CBF field personnel and ministry partners. Student.Church places interns in CBF partner churches that care about calling out future ministry leaders. The gift will also support CBF’s intentional congregational renewal process, advocacy work that helps others find their voice and a church starting initiative that continues to promote fresh expressions of church. With the gift, CBF also will develop and deliver financial literacy programs for congregations and pastoral leaders. In helping to sustain CBF’s Global Missions endeavors, the gift will support the long-term presence of field personnel ministering in 30 countries and will impact the poorest counties in the United States through CBF’s rural poverty initiative, Together for Hope.
To join the Baugh Foundation in giving to CBF, visit www.cbf.net/GiveNow, text CBF to 41444 or mail your contribution to: COOPERATIVE BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP PO BOX 102972 ATLANTA, GA 30368-2972
CBF celebrates renewed and strengthened partnership with Global Women
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Global Women Executive Director Stacy Blackmon and CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter met in Decatur, Ga., to sign the renewed partnership agreement between the organizations.
By Carrie McGuffin
DECATUR, Ga. — With a recent signing ceremony, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Global Women have officially entered into a renewed partnership. With a like-minded vision and shared goals of empowering females across the globe, CBF and Global Women will strive together to build a more authentic and Christ-like community through shared work. The move toward strengthening ties between Global Women and CBF came in April, as CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter approached the organization with proposed steps to move from a “Networking” partnership to that of an “Identity Collaborative” model, which is multi-faceted and will relate to CBF across multiple departments and projects. Paynter emphasized that this new relationship is being forged at the most opportune time as both Global Women and CBF Global Missions are in transition. “For more than 10 years Global Women has been reaching out to women in congregations to connect them in meaningful and transformational ways to women around the world,” Paynter said in a memo to the Global Women Board of Directors. “Proudly and intentionally ecumenical, much of the work of Global Women has been supported by leaders and constituents in CBF churches. Global Women is experiencing a transition in leadership and acting on the opportunity for planning for the future. Likewise, there is also a re-visioning and strategic planning process for CBF Global Missions. The intersection of these two assessment processes in these two organizations has yielded an exploration of intentional steps for partnership between Global Women and CBF Global Missions” This transition in leadership for Global Women comes with the appointment of Executive Director Stacy Blackmon, who began serving in this role earlier in October. Blackmon is an accomplished strategist, communicator, partnership builder and transformational ministry leader dedicated to helping people thrive — especially women and children. She comes to Global Women from World Vision where she most recently served as a national director and organizational strategy project director.
With the tagline, “A catalyst for positive change on behalf of vulnerable women,” Global Women is a Christian nonprofit organization that envisions a world where every woman is empowered, valued and equipped to fulfill her unique purpose. Through global partnerships it seeks to walk alongside indigenous Christian women leading holistic ministries and support indigenous Christian organizations that address its five areas of initiatives. This partnership will draw on the alignment of values between the Fellowship and Global Women, seeking to provide a strategic approach to mission among women in neglected and marginalized communities around the world. This will also connect the CBF denomi-network with Global Women’s network of indigenous Christian women and like-minded organizations to address five initiative areas: clean water, maternal health, education, economic development and sex trafficking awareness and prevention. CBF Partnerships Manager Chris Boltin expressed his excitement for the future of these joint efforts, emphasizing the benefit to CBF congregations and field personnel through the partnership. “We are excited about what the future holds for our endeavors together, and we know that CBF congregations and field personnel will directly benefit from this collaboration. Building on a longstanding relationship, both organizations renewed a commitment to heighten awareness and response within the initiative areas.” Blackmon also expressed her excitement, speaking to the increased impact that collaboration will bring. “This renewed partnership between Global Women and CBF will enable greater stewardship of resources and ministry impact through strategic collaboration and prayer,” Blackmon said. “Global Women and CBF have a long history of providing mutual support for areas of shared vision. Through this partnership, we will continue to build relationships at all levels, leverage our collective strengths, and combine our passion and influence to become an even more powerful force for love in the world.”
25 years ago, Christ’s love compelled us to form together as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
At the 2016 General Assembly, we will kick off this anniversary by celebrating the stories of our shared heritage and our shared future.
June 20-24, 2016 Sheraton Hotel and Koury Convention Center Greensboro, North Carolina
Register now at www.cbf.net/assembly
Compelled to worship; Compelled to lead; Compelled to impact Together. JOIN US IN GREENSBORO.
To learn more about Global Women, visit their website at globalwomengo.org.
Love God. Teach Neighbor. Be Transformed.
CBF field personnel share Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great love through literacy ministry in Slovakia By Blake Tommey
OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS
Roma students in KoĹĄice, Slovakia are given opportunities to learn in their heart language as well as in Slovak and English.
CBF field personnel Jon and Tanya Parks (pictured left and right) partner with local schools and organizations in Košice, Slovakia, to teach and empower Roma children and adults.
magine you are 6 years old and those first-day-of-school butterflies are swarming in your stomach. As you shuffle into your first-grade classroom, you scan the faces of your classmates, placing timid bets with yourself on who is most likely to become your friend. But as you take your seat, the anxiety slowly gives way to the warm thrill that can only come with a certain piece of knowledge: this is the year you will finally learn to read. The chalk hits the board and your teacher commences with the first language lesson of the year. But suddenly, a horrifying reality hits you — she’s not teaching your language. You have never heard these words. This is not what you and your family speak at home. How are you going to understand your teacher, let alone learn how to read? It doesn’t take long for your teacher to realize you are falling behind. You say goodbye to your classmates as the school places you in a room for deficient students. Eventually, they label you “stupid” and transfer you to another school with other students who also fell behind. You were trying to keep up but they just were not speaking your language. How were you ever supposed to learn? “This is the fundamental problem for Roma children in Slovakia; the Slovak system of schooling and education does not offer conditions necessary for Roma students to handle school like Slovak children,” said Anna Koptova, founder of an elementary school for Roma children in Košice, Slovakia. “Roma kids come to the first grade and do not speak the teaching language of Slovak well at all. They only speak the Romani language. This communication barrier is so vast that the child cannot cope with it during his or her years in elementary school. So, that student is not only unlikely to finish school, but he or she will never come to know who they are, have self-esteem or pride or integrate into Slovak society.” This is why Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Jon and Tanya Parks are forming together with Koptova’s school and other learning communities to share Christ’s great love through
literacy ministry in Košice. With support from the CBF Offering for Global Missions, Jon and Tanya alongside their partners in Slovakia are joining God among the Roma people to provide education and literacy training in the Romani and Slovak languages. Through honoring the Romani language and culture in the education process, they and other educators are not only teaching Roma students Romani, Slovak and even English, but also equipping them with the confidence and tools to emerge from poverty into greater economic opportunity in Košice. If God is among the most marginalized peoples in the world, God is surely among Roma people in Slovakia, Tanya said. Roma communities are concentrated primarily in the eastern part of the country, comprising the second-largest ethnic minority in Slovakia, and live one of the most ostracized existences in the world. The European Roma Rights Center considers the “THE RELATIONSHIP situation in Slovakia to be BETWEEN SLOVAKS AND one of the worst in Europe, ROMA IS A LONG AND DEEP primarily characterized by educational discrimination, ONE, AND THE LONGER threats, violence and even WE ARE HERE, THE MORE forced sterilization. In 2012, a United Nations Development DEEP WE REALIZE THE Program survey discovered SITUATION IS.” that 43 percent of Roma students in mainstream schools attended ethnically-segregated classes. “The relationship between Slovaks and Roma is a long and deep one, and the longer we are here, the more deep we realize the situation is,” Tanya said. “But we believe that education and literacy is such an important piece of Roma communities picking themselves up out of poverty and asserting a vital position in society. We believe that education in their own language, in the Romani language, in the Slovak language F E B R UA R Y/ M A R C H 2 0 1 6
(Above) Jon and Tanya lead adults in English conversation in an effort to advance their international employment opportunities. (Right) Learning to read and write in multiple languages gives Roma children the best opportunity to break free from the vicious cycle of poverty.
and then also in English are three important ways for them to have a leg up, to get better jobs, to speak as educated people and see discrimination begin to change.” Koptova’s school now partners with CBF through the Parks’ commissioning in Slovakia and was the first school in Košice to implement elementary education in the Romani language. Since its founding in 2006, the school has taught elementary education, including math, science, social studies, reading and language skills to Roma children in their heart language. In addition to teaching preschool and kindergarten students in Košice, the Parks also convene a class of 9- and 10-year-olds in a local village, providing Slovak and English lessons, crafts, games, songs and Bible literacy in each setting. Jessica Rivarova is a fourth-grade student at Koptova’s school and aspires to be a nurse when she is older because she loves to take care of people. She believes Roma people are exceptional because they know how to have fun, to dance, to sing beautifully and to paint stunning works of art. Conditions in Rivarova’s neighborhood in Košice are hardly conducive to education, so her parents encourage her to go to school and study for her advancement tests.
One of those students and partners is Július Pecha, a Roma social worker who desires to learn English in order to improve his communication at international social work conferences. Pecha grew up attending a military school in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia, where he was the only Roma student. Early in high school, the Slovak curriculum became so difficult that Pecha nearly withdrew from school completely. But with the firm support of his family, he eventually attended college and graduated from the school of social work. Today, Pecha works among Roma in the village of Kecerovce, just outside of Košice, where he helps individuals escape from gambling addiction, alcoholism and poverty. Pecha and his partners help provide food, warm clothing, school supplies for children, basic healthcare, vitamins, vaccinations and especially advocacy for Roma who regularly experience deliberate harm at work, court, labor offices as well as by employment agencies and healthcare institutions. Once a week, Pecha and 10 of his classmates gather for the advanced English “Education is important because with class with Jon and Tanya to learn verb tenses, it we can help people move beyond where timing words and colloquial phrases. But they are now, and then those people will help Pecha believes it is the informal, relaxed others and so on,” Rivarova explained. “For Roma kids, reading is very important setting in which they are learning that makes him love English classes and allows everyone because almost no one reads as well as to be transformed. Above all, he said, we must non-Roma kids our age. I think that by be increasing Roma teachers, Roma literature learning, I can achieve more and get better and opportunities for Roma to succeed in too. My family is very important to me, early education, but at the end of the day, especially my mom and dad, because they take good care of me and encourage me to go there is still one thing Roma people don’t have to prove or work for: the love of God. to school.” “Faith and the love of In addition to “EVEN IF THEY ARE POOR, God are two things nobody children, Jon and Tanya are also coming EVEN IF THEY LIVE BELOW can take away from Roma,” Pecha said. alongside their adult THE POVERTY LINE, EVEN IF “Even if they are poor, neighbors through literacy ministry in THEY HAVE NO EDUCATION. even if they live below the poverty line, even if Roma communities. ROMA HAVE FAITH, AND they have no education Each week, they host THANKS TO THAT FAITH, — Roma have faith and classes in a nearby village for Roma adults THEY HELP ONE ANOTHER” thanks to that faith, they help one another. They try seeking to learn English and build their international opportunities for to make their families complete and when employment. Through beginner, intermediate someone in the family has a problem, the other members have the obligation to help and advanced language cohorts, adult students not only improve their English skills because God’s commandment says, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Roma truly live in but even teach Jon and Tanya as they are this faith.” learning Slovak and Romani.
Order CBF Offering for Global Missions resources for FREE at www.cbf.net/OGMorder See the full complement of Offering resources, place your order and view videos and other materials online at www.cbf.net/OGM.
OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS
CBF engages in three primary contexts: Global Poverty, Global Migration and the Global Church, and participates in God’s mission with and among the most marginalized and least evangelized people on Earth.
2015-2016 CBF Offering for Global Missions Sharing Christ’s great love for us through literacy ministry
Love God. Teach Neighbor. Be Transformed. www.cbf.net/OGM
OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS Sharing Christ’s great love for us through literacy ministry
Love God. Teach Neighbor. Be Transformed.
in Offering resources
Turn over a new leaf
CBF OGM Bulletin Insert/ Poster Combo (Packs of 20)
Love God. Teach Neighbor. Be Transformed. Sharing Christ’s great love for us through literacy ministry
I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.
Much of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s global missions impact is funded by the Offering for Global Missions. The Offering is the foundational means of support for the CBF mission enterprise and provides access to a wide array of tools and resources to serve people to equip churches.
ISAIAH 54:13, NLT
Support CBF literacy ministries and field personnel worldwide.
OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS
“And when you support our ministry — when you support what CBF is doing in the world — you’re providing ESL classes for Roma students and for adults. You’re providing clothing and materials for Roma children in a school who don’t always have the same materials that their Slovak peers have. You’re providing presence and Bible studies for young Roma teenagers, boys and girls, to learn about God’s word in a safe and caring environment. But above all, you’re providing Roma communities the opportunity to share more of who they are with the world.”
When you support the Offering, you make ministry possible by supporting all CBF field personnel. Your gifts provide much-needed materials and support to enrich the lives of children and families through life-changing literacy ministries.
For Pecha, Jon and Tanya and Koptova’s school, loving your neighbor as yourself is the true goal of ministry among Roma in Slovakia. As their partnership in Košice continues to seek vital economic and social opportunities for Roma, it is their dedication to forming together that makes it possible to join God in God’s mission, Jon noted. Partnering with churches and individuals through the CBF Offering for Global Missions, he said, is actually what helps keep them most in tune with what God is doing in Slovakia and around the world. “We have more faith in God to provide for our needs when we know that our work and ability to stay here depends on people’s jobs back home and depends on people continuing to stay connected with what we do,” Jon added.
Offering At A Glance 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 2015-16 OGM Bookmarks (Packs of 40)
CBF 2015-16 OGM Envelopes (Packs of 100)
CBF 2015-16 OGM DVD Children at Koptova’s school in Košice are not discriminated against due to their background, but instead learn in a safe and welcoming environment where they are given every opportunity to succeed.
Love God. Teach Neighbor. Be Transformed. Sharing Christ’s great love for us through literacy ministry
OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS www.cbf.net/OGM
CBF 2015-16 OGM Flashdrive with video resources TIPS FROM FELLOW CBF CHURCHES
TIME-BASED PROMOTION STRATEGIES
Engaging your congregation in renewing God’s world through the CBF Offering for Global Missions
TALKING POINTS ABOUT CBF AND THE OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS
OFFERING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS
2015-16 CBF OGM Bible Study Curriculum for adults, youth and children along with Worship Resources available for download.
CBF receives $1 million
LILLY ENDOWMENT GRANT
to address economic challenges facing pastoral leaders DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has received a $1 million grant as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively. The Endowment is giving $28 million in grants through this initiative. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to supporting the pastoral leadership development of clergy serving in congregations across the United States. As part of CBF’s continued focus on ministerial excellence, a survey of more than 600 pastoral leaders in 30 states was conducted in the summer of 2015. The results revealed a broad and deep burden among many leaders within the Fellowship. The survey found that financial literacy in the areas of budgeting, benefits and retirement, as well as debt management are barriers that impede the progress and efficiency of pastoral leaders within the Fellowship. As a participant in the Lilly Endowment’s new national initiative, CBF will develop financial literacy programs for congregations and pastoral leaders based on the focus areas identified in the survey. Additional financial services will be offered through CBF Church Benefits. CBF will also establish the Ministerial Excellence Fund in partnership with the CBF Foundation and will provide matching
funds of $500,000 for the purpose of long-term sustainability. The Ministerial Excellence Fund will provide grant awards for immediate debt relief of pastoral leaders, as well as financial consultation, coaching sessions and other educational programs for recipients. The granting process will begin during the second quarter of 2016. Additionally, CBF will work to embed these efforts in existing programs and ministries. Peer Learning Groups as well as the annual Leadership Institute held in conjunction with CBF General Assembly and the ChurchWorks conference for Christian educators will all provide resources for educating clergy and congregational leadership with the goal of building awareness, capacity and sustainability so that a long-term commitment to economic stability will be integrated into the culture of call and service across the Fellowship. Bo Prosser, CBF Coordinator of Organizational Relationships, expressed his excitement that the Fellowship could take part in this initiative with its longtime partner, Lilly Endowment, Inc. “We are honored and excited to be included in this important initiative,” said Prosser, who will serve as CBF’s grant administrator. “With this grant, we will be able to help our pastoral leaders better understand their finances as well as the economic challenges of their congregations. Money is the most avoided subject in our churches. This grant will open up communication and deepen understanding
The Ministerial Excellence Fund’s
Past ral Leaders 12 |
Of the 642 pastoral leaders surveyed, 4 pressing and prominent needs emerged: debt relief, health benefits, retirement contributions and financial advisement.
in facing the complex issues of money, economics and a theology of stewardship. We are grateful for the opportunity to deepen our relationships with congregations and congregational leaders in the years to come.” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said the grant will create additional capacity for CBF to help form healthy churches across the Fellowship. “Healthy leaders form healthy congregations,” Paynter said. “Pastoral leaders can be negatively impacted by the stress brought about by the debt they carry. The initiatives that this grant undergirds will help ensure the vitality of local congregations by helping to ensure the health of pastors. That’s a game changer.” CBF is one of 27 organizations taking part in the initiative, which represents a variety of Christian traditions, including Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God (Anderson), Episcopal, Independent Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Wesleyan churches, as well as non-denominational, and historic African-American Christian communities. They include denominational pension and benefits boards; local and regional denomination judicatories, such as synods and dioceses; and denominational foundations. Each program is customized to the needs of pastoral leaders in each religious tradition, but the programs have much in common as they: • provide incentives for clergy to take part in personal finance education • offer low- or no-cost financial planning and counseling • match contributions for pastors and congregations that enroll in pension savings programs
• help pastors create emergency funds • develop strategies that help young pastors pay down or eliminate educational debt • create new scholarships so that seminarians borrow less while in school “Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church. Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “These organizations understand the importance of the financial wellbeing of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve.” An additional grant to the Indianapolis Center for Congregations will establish a coordination program for the initiative that will help the Endowment track success. It will bring together leaders of the diverse programs to foster mutual learning and support and help build a network of organizations committed to supporting the financial wellbeing of pastors and their congregations.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.
IN THE AREA OF DEBT RELIEF: Over 50% of the participants making $70k-90k annually have at least $150k-250k in debt 70k 90k
67% of those surveyed carry a debt that equals up to 9x their salary
41% of participant debt is student loans
F E B R UA R Y/ M A R C H 2 0 1 6
MONEY! By Bo Prosser
oney is the most avoided subject in our congregations today. Many congregations tackle issues such as immigration, refugee ministry, relocation, multiple site options, worship style and almost every other topic that comes to mind. Yet, when money is concerned, more times than not, we avoid the conversation. Most pastors avoid preaching about money or financial issues. Perhaps the obligatory “annual stewardship sermon” is presented, but most pastoral leaders and congregations find it easier to just avoid financial discussions. Most pastors try to avoid the financial office, not wanting to know anything about giving patterns, revenue patterns or individual gifts. Historically, there has been a “hands off” approach to stewardship and finances, both individual and congregational. This is not about being nosy about who gives what, or about preaching the prosperity gospel, this is about being honest about the financial burdens that face pastoral leaders, those in the congregation and congregational ministries.
We can no longer ignore the financial.
We can no longer accept this as status quo. Leaders must become more proactive in facing both personal and congregational economics. There are no easy conservations, answers or simple solutions. These are challenging areas for congregations to consider. Jesus did not avoid speaking about money — both the positive and negative aspects of it. Paul certainly was not timid in addressing economic challenges. The biblical canon is filled with talk about money, economic issues and keeping these in the right perspective. The Bible is not silent, and we shouldn’t be. We have to begin talking to one another about the challenges of money that we are facing. In the midst of gnawing student loan debt, consumer and credit card debt and the lack of health benefits, many ministers find themselves drowning in overwhelming debt. In a recent survey of more than 600 CBF pastoral leaders, 67 percent of respondents reported carrying debt burdens equal to their annual salary compensation. There is much work to be done in helping pastoral leaders
We need to talk! and congregations in addressing personal and congregational financial challenges. The average American consumer is facing similar challenges — finding themselves carrying between $8,000 and $17,000 of consumer debt (according to recent U.S. Census data). Additionally, student loans add an average of $32,000 to the mix. To add to these burdens, more than half of Americans have less than $500 in savings. The news is not much better when considering congregational economic challenges. With declining gifts to general budgets, declining numbers of consistent givers and declining attendance, there is much reason for despair. More than 4,000 churches close their doors every year. The reasons are varied, but the financial challenges cannot be ignored. Many pastoral leaders don’t begin these conversations because they are embarrassed about their own financial situations. Clergy are not equipped through a seminary education to manage church finances. And so, the issue mainly goes ignored, or in the financial leadership void, unqualified laity
IN THE AREA OF HEALTH BENEFITS: I’ve given up on paying off the medical debt. I expect we’ll declare bankruptcy in the next year or two. The student loans are deferred because of my low income, but that just means we’re piling up interest. The debt is just killing me psychologically.” – Senior Pastor, 2015 survey response
44% of participants do not receive medical benefits from their employer
Of this 44%, half have a church operating budget of $101k-500k annually
jump in to lead with an agenda that is rarely helpful. The truth is most ministers crave help in dealing with personal and congregational financial issues and long for advisors and advocates. The challenge is to improve communication about financial challenges and further, to develop a theological perspective that builds a healthy approach to both the fiscal and the spiritual.
Christian” programs on the market, as a Google search on “finances for Christians” programs yields thousands of results. Obviously, not all of these are relevant for universal purposes, so, we must discover programs that are helpful, rework some existing materials that are helpful for our context, or develop programs that allow us to deal openly and honestly about financial challenges. We need to establish funds that will help So what can we do? ease financial burdens for pastoral leaders We have to talk openly and honestly about and church members. the economic challenges that we face — This is no easy task; yet, a worthy one for both individually and congregationally. us to consider. With many pastoral leaders Pastoral leaders who actively engage leaving seminary with overwhelming debt, we in meeting financial challenges find that must find ways to offer assistance. their personal finances and congregational Likewise, many in our congregations finances are in better shape than those who need a “hand up, not a hand out.” We have avoid leading in these areas. Members of the to discover ways to take away the stigma of finance committee should receive training on financial stress and offer honest help that is how to administer church finances, how to indeed a relief, not an opportunity to create “ask” for money appropriately and honestly more debt. This means that in establishing and stewardship implications in today’s world. funds for relief, we will also need criteria for One thing we do know from research: accountability. when God’s people are aware of the We need to examine the benefit and challenges, they can be very generous! So, retirement funds available to pastoral honest and open conversations make a leaders. difference. Many of our churches don’t want We need to discover and/or develop to involve themselves in the total programs that deal honestly and dispersal of salary funds. They realistically with finances. simply say, “Here is your salary, There are many “Finances for the break it up however you need to.”
Yet, this does not give guidance or assistance to a pastoral leader who is struggling. Personnel committees must become more aware of “best practices” in the field in relation to pastoral compensation. These changes just begin to scratch the surface, and the recent award from the Lilly Endowment Inc. (learn more on pp. 12-13) will help us begin the conversation within the Fellowship. Through raising awareness, providing financial literacy events and awarding debt relief grants, our hope is that we can begin making a difference in the lives of pastoral leaders and the lives of our congregations. We are not going to erase financial challenges that face pastoral leaders or congregations. However, if we can ease the burden of some and raise the conversation among many, perhaps we can make a difference.
BO PROSSER is the CBF Coordinator of Organizational Relationships. Follow him on Twitter at @BoProsser.
IN THE AREAS OF RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS AND FINANCIAL ADVISEMENT:
Three out of five participants do not feel prepared for retirement
Only one out of four participants has met with a financial advisor
CBF PEER LEARNING GROUP OFFERS PLACE OF RELATIONSHIP AND GROWTH By Ashleigh Bugg In 2003, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship introduced Peer Learning Groups, an initiative to provide space for members of the CBF family to meet for fellowship, support and growth. In North Carolina, Jerry Chiles, former minister at Forest Hills Baptist Church, leads a Peer Learning Group of church staff in the Raleigh/Durham area. The group regularly has anywhere from 10 to 15 members who are associate pastors, educators, children ministers as well as other church staff members. “We were one of the original peer groups created,” Chiles said. “The purpose of our PLG is to provide personal support and continuing education opportunities for the members.” The group was initially funded through a religion grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. “When I saw that opportunity, I knew I should take advantage of it,” Chiles said. “I realized it would be safe place to share concerns and needs with my peers.” JoAnn Stancil, minister of education and administration at Wake Forest Baptist Church, has been involved with the group for six years. “The group has helped me in several ways. It gives me associates in my field that I can call when I have questions or need personal support,” Stancil said. “The activities have been educational for me. My goal is to always be in a learning environment. Jerry does a good job of organizing for learning.” The Raleigh PLG meets once a month at Forest Hills Baptist Church, and at the beginning of each year, the group chooses a theme for their time together. Throughout the year they may study a book or host a guest speaker with discussion afterward. “We’ve also started going to a movie together once a week. We’ll watch it and talk about what implications it may have for our ministry,” Chiles said. The group’s theme for 2016 is “Changing Church, Experiencing Culture,” and they will read several books including the “Art of Neighboring” by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon and “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown. “We’re also going to study a book called “Church Refugees,” Chiles said. “The author talks about people who are called the
‘Dones.’ These are people who have spent most of their life involved in church but are tired of the organization and committees.” Chiles emphasizes that it is important for churches to understand cultural trends and the nature of changes in the church and reach out to these congregants. He gears the conversation toward how ministry needs to change as well, and how to best adjust to incorporate these people. Each month, the group will discuss ways to reach out to their congregations as well as share their personal needs and concerns. A key feature of the Raleigh Peer Learning Group is the development of a covenant. “Our covenant has six points,” Chiles said. “We will support the group with our presence. We will practice reciprocal trust. We will respect confidentiality. We will provide an environment in which everyone is expected to speak freely whether in agreement or not. We will respect each other avoiding personal attacks while treating each other fairly. We will be intentional to nurture and encourage a personal relationship with each other.” Chiles believes having a personal covenant has helped the group grow. Over the past 12 years, his best memory is seeing the group’s commitment to one another. “The very first thing we try to do is take care of each other,” Chiles said. “Several years ago, a member lost a child. We rallied around that person and were there for him. We can really care for each other.” The group has also been beneficial for Chiles’ full-time ministry, and being a group convener has been very important to him. “There have been many times we’ve studied something, and I’ve been immediately able to apply it in my ministry,” Chiles said. “We studied self-care and staff relationships, and I was able to strengthen my relationships with my fellow ministers and see them in a different way.” Although Chiles is the convener for the Raleigh PLG, he sees himself as a resource rather than the sole leader of the group. “I’m a catalyst, it doesn’t mean I do everything. I hear the needs we have, and then people respond,” Chiles said. “I strongly encourage everyone in ministry to be a part of peer learning group,” Chiles said. “It is a great opportunity.”
LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT FIT? From discernment to search to call, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is ready to equip you through the ministry of Reference and Referral. CBF has hundreds of profiles of churches searching for ministers, and we are ready to make connections. We can help you maximize the effectiveness of your next search by:
Connecting you to CBF state and regional organizations for support and fellowship
Connecting you to colleagues across the Fellowship for networking and formation
Encouraging the search committee throughout the process
Rendering pastoral care throughout the discernment, search and call processes
Talking you through healthy ways of searching and calling a new minister
Talking you through the labors of searching for a new ministry
Helping you update your job description
Teaching you to customize your cover letter to a job description
Teaching you how to read resumes
Helping you refine your resume
Providing compensation studies that inform your offer
Offering best practices for negotiating compensation and benefits Leveling the playing field for your candidacy
Standardizing your search process Sending you filtered/targeted resumes based on your church and pastor profiles
Sending your information and resume to targeted churches based on your profile
Providing sample questionnaires to tease out information needed to make a decision
Preparing you for video and in-person interviews with a search committee
Maintaining strict confidentiality
Celebrating the installation of a new minister
Maintaining strict confidentiality
Celebrating the installation of a new minister
Visit www.cbf.net/LeaderConnect or contact Craig Janney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXPERIENCING THE DAWN CBF congregations discover together through Dawnings
By Carrie McGuffin
n a rainy morning in October in the mountains of North Carolina there was an exciting energy at the Montreat Conference Center. Clergy and laity from 11 congregations gathered around their tables to begin exploring vision for their churches. The gathering was a CBF Dawnings Exploratory Retreat, an introduction to the CBF Dawnings initiative — a process for collaborative church visioning with a biblical framework. The Exploratory Retreat is geared toward spiritual renewal, asking participants to fall into a rhythm of prayer as well as experience new ways of prayer practice. It also serves as a way to experience the process of Dawnings in a compressed format with a small leadership team of 3-5 key congregational leaders of clergy and laity — providing understanding of the basic inner-workings of the Dawnings process and giving a taste of a number of experiences that a larger congregational cohort would later take part in throughout 10 weeks of spiritual conversation. At the Montreat retreat, each of the congregations brought different needs, hopes and troubles with them — from church decline, changing environments, upcoming vision-casting, curiosity about Dawnings and need for a renewed sense of energy. Three days of retreat are meant to let ideas begin bubbling to the surface, allow time for individuals to listen to the voice of God and experience together this new rhythm of prayer, preparation and discovery before
taking the process into the particular contexts of individual churches. This is not a retreat and process that focuses on the negative, but allows positive ideas to drive the conversation. The leadership team from Heritage Baptist Church, led by pastor Jimmy Allen, traveled to the mountains from Winston-Salem, N.C., with the weight of change in their church and community on their shoulders. While it would be easy for Allen and the Heritage team to focus on the fear that comes in the face of change, instead they were excited as they discovered together the Dawnings process of visioning, engaging and forming.
Dawnings retreats offer participants time to learn and reflect on the process of visioning, engaging and forming within small groups and individually.
Because of the retreat, Allen said, the church is already doing something new. The emphasis throughout the retreat of being more of a spiritual body than an organizational body as a church inspired their leadership team to reimagine an existing holiday ministry as just that. “Because of Dawnings we began exploring how we could make our annual hot chocolate giveaway at the community Christmas tree lighting more of a ministry and less of a marketing ploy,” Allen said. “Our prayer team invited the congregation to gather the night before on the spot we would give away hot chocolate and pray for those who would serve and for the event.”
At Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., the pumpkin patch ministry has been reimagined to invigorate the congregation and impact the broader community.
The team also offered prayers for each person who received hot chocolate at the event, and at the end of the night, the church had given away more than 1,600 cups of hot chocolate to the community. Allen was amazed at how God’s grace was released in fresh ways to so many people as a result of new vision for an existing ministry. Stephen Cook, pastor at Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., continues to express this excitement that comes from Dawnings as he and his congregation implement the ideas that came from more than 10 weeks of conversation with their multi-generational leadership team. Second Baptist is a church where people come “to” church rather than “for” church, said Cook. The Dawnings process was a way for this congregation to reimagine the way they were doing church so that they didn’t feel like landlords for the community making their way into this building on a daily and weekly basis, and become invested and excited about engaging the community. “The opportunity to go away on a retreat with that group of people and then to also spend focused time over months — to have those folks come together weekly for prayer and for the chance to read scripture and to be read by scripture and to see and hear the ways that this resonated so deeply with them was tremendously powerful,” Cook said. “That was incredibly hope-inspiring for me to see the way that people were making these deep investments in their own spiritual formation and the spiritual formation of our church.”
The spiritual language of the Dawnings program has also made its way into the common language of the congregation, with prayers offered regularly asking, “Lord what would you have us to be; Lord what would you have us to do?” One of the answers to these questions for Second Memphis was a re-structuring of church leadership. “Coming out of Dawnings we’ve been able to redesign and restructure what our staff configuration is going to be. Dawnings has given us a language to be able to develop positions around formation and engagement and to be able to craft that. That is a very real and present but not quite as obvious an outcome, but it has shaped our capacity to reconfigure our staff and better align our staff with what the needs of the church are now, instead of what used to be.” Along with the re-structuring to provide more holistic support for the congregation, the church also re-focused its largest annual fundraiser — the pumpkin patch — to engage more fully with the community. In many years, the fundraiser was led by a couple of parents with youth in the church, strictly selling pumpkins. Now, after re-imagining the way that an existing program could be more effective, the community gathers to unload the pumpkin truck, the congregation prays over the pumpkin patch, and those selling pumpkins offer to pray for those buying them at the time of the sale.
Through this, both the congregation and community are consistently excited for the fall and pumpkin season at Second Baptist. CBF Dawnings has provided a number of pastors like Cook and Allen with a time of refreshment and a number of churches with renewed excitement about their ministries, community engagement, fellowship and more. This experience in community with heightened spiritual discipline and biblical focus meaningfully engages clergy and laity together to plan and implement encouraging new projects and ministries.
CARRIE MCGUFFIN is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at email@example.com
Learn more about the Dawnings process and how your church can participate in an Exploratory Retreat at www.cbf.net/dawnings.
F E B R UA R Y/ M A R C H 2 0 1 6
Rest and Renewal CBF invests in the health of ministers and churches through new Sabbatical Initiative
By Carrie McGuffin and Aaron Weaver
First Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo., recently became the first CBF church to take part in the Sabbatical Initiative, entering into a covenant to set aside funds for a sabbatical experience for their pastor.
REST AND RENEWAL. These are critical (and biblical) needs that many ministers are unable to make time for in our fast-paced, 24/7 world where clergy are regularly exposed to new dimensions of stress. Study after study has shown that the health of ministers is on a downward spiral, and recent research has shown that ministers suffer from maladies like obesity, hypertension and depression at higher rates than most Americans. Without a doubt, clergy burnout is a real danger that ministers and their congregations cannot afford to ignore. Jason Edwards knows the importance of rest and renewal. Feeling the pressure of ministry, Edwards, who serves as senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., found himself running on fumes and knew a time of self-care and renewal was long overdue. “In June [of 2015], I entered into an 11-week sabbatical with the prayer that God would, in the words of David, ‘restore to me the joys of God’s salvation’,” Edwards explained. “We all push our spiritual, emotional and physical engines to the brink of God’s design. We all need to be reminded from time to time that our tanks will not refill themselves. We all need to stop, often, and refuel.” And so Edwards refueled during his sabbatical experience. Rather than use the time to write a book as he originally planned, Edwards decided instead to focus, alongside his family, on personal renewal, marriage renewal and family renewal. Edwards’ congregation at Second Baptist also joined in the experience with a renewal-focused summer that included guest preachers and a time of intentional study. “We tried to be consistent, and the consistency was around renewal,” Edwards said. “I was focusing on not just getting time away, which would be renewing, but trying to invest deeply in contemplative prayer and getting healthy physically and spiritually and emotionally.” This time of Sabbath and self-care, Edwards emphasized, is necessary for clergy as they seek to guide their congregations, investing in their members’ personal prayer lives and ministering with them as they seek to deepen their relationship with God. “I think about the benefits [of a congregation investing in a sabbatical experience], and one the benefits is that this is an investment in the longevity of a minister,” Edwards said. “A church needs to be able to expect that the pastors are constantly engaged in a relationship with
Carol McEntyre, pastor of First Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo., is praised by her congregation for her preparation and commitment to ministry. In return, they are preparing for her sabbatical experience and committing to her long-term success.
God, are nurturing a deep spiritual life and are nurturing health. Knowing that the pastoral life tends to lead toward burnout, people should be able to say, ‘We deserve to have the kind of pastor who is living a life that is moving toward wholeness,’ and that takes work.” This work, Edwards noted, is an investment — not in an extended vacation for a pastor, but an investment in the critical (and biblical) work of renewal. As Edwards was beginning his sabbatical experience, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was launching its own initiative to invest in the health of ministers and local congregations through encouraging significant sabbatical experiences — making saving funds easier for churches and providing grant opportunities. A multi-organization endeavor that includes the CBF Foundation, CBF Church Benefits, CBF state and regional organizations as well as CBF, the Sabbatical Initiative aims to provide a comprehensive plan and resources for a church to invest in the health of its ministerial staff. In addition to grant funding opportunities for the minister on sabbatical, the Sabbatical Initiative offers other significant benefits including sabbatical policies, procedures and other guiding resources for churches as well as coaching and cohort opportunities for ministers when CBF and a participating church entering into a Sabbatical Covenant with one another. First Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo., recently became the first CBF congregation to take part in the Sabbatical Initiative, covenanting with the Fellowship through the initiative’s intentional process of setting aside funds for a sabbatical experience for their pastor, Carol McEntyre. “I think the Sabbatical Initiative gives us a visible ongoing commitment to our pastor and our congregation of the value of a sabbatical,” said Charles Hunter, chair of the personnel committee at FBC Columbia. “This method allows us to set aside one week of our pastor’s salary on an annual basis to assure that we have prepared financially for the upcoming sabbatical that we’ve committed to after a five-year term of service.” “It will be reassuring on the part of the congregation as they will know they are doing a good thing for the future to give our pastor
a time for rest, study and reflection that we know is crucial for the long-term success of our pastor in the ministry,” Hunter added. “Our congregation deeply values Carol McEntyre’s preparation for ministry and her strong level of commitment. We see the sabbatical as one small way that we can show our appreciation and our ongoing commitment to her long-term success.” CBF Director of Ministries Ruth Perkins Lee expressed excitement for this new Sabbatical Initiative as the Fellowship strengthens its investment in its ministers and churches. “We invite churches to covenant with CBF in offering their ministers sabbatical, to invest through the Sabbatical Fund with the CBF Foundation and take advantage of the resources of the Sabbatical Initiative,” Perkins Lee said. “Churches have the opportunity to contribute to the longevity of a minister and ministers have the opportunity to connect with others in the same field of work for rest, fellowship, continuing education and reflection. In signing a Sabbatical Covenant with all of the participants involved, the sabbatical experience becomes a larger endeavor of opportunity, resources and support.”
To learn more about the CBF Sabbatical Initiative, visit www.cbf.net/sabbatical.
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Healthy church, healthy community NEW ORLEANS CONGREGATION BUILDS COMMUNITY IN HISTORICAL BUILDING
n a vibrant street corner in the heart of the University District of Uptown New Orleans sits St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church. For more than 117 years, this congregation has been an institution in The Big Easy, with a commitment to community development and distinctly Baptist identity. Known for its progressive and innovative ideas, St. Charles is the only Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church in the area. It is also affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and other Baptist organizations. In 1971, St. Charles became the first Baptist church in Louisiana to ordain women as deacons. Nine years later, in 1980, St. Charles became the first Baptist church in the state to ordain a woman to pastoral ministry and in 2013 called its first woman pastor, Elizabeth Mangham Lott.
Lott, who grew up at First Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., was no stranger to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Attending the church pastored by one of CBF’s first Coordinating Council members meant that when she graduated high school, all she knew was CBF as a home for her call to ministry. After attending Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and living and serving in the Richmond, Va.-area for 10 years at Northminster Baptist Church and Westover Baptist Church, Lott felt a call home in the deeper south — New Orleans being close to her Alabama roots. With St. Charles as the only CBF church in the area, Lott thought it was a long shot that she would be chosen to minister there, but submitted her application and prayed. “And here we are two years later,” she said.
By Carrie McGuffin
(Top) The congregation and community celebrate the holidays with the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra, one of St. Charles Avenue Baptist’s Community Partners. (Bottom) St. Charles commits to learning and growing as a community, welcoming popular Christian authors to teach. Pictured are Elizabeth Mangham Lott (left), pastor of St. Charles Avenue, and author Shane Claiborne (right).
The community that Lott is now serving is unique, as the church sits in a position where it is poised to engage with a wide array of community members. The church is across the street from Tulane University and Loyola University, and a block away from Audubon Park — a large public green space. The diverse congregation of 125 lives both in and out of the city, explained Lott. “When Avery Lee was the pastor in the 1960s and 70s, he coined the phrase, ‘the difference is worth the distance.’ There are some people who still hold to that and drive as much as 45 minutes or an hour to get to church.” Lott attributes this commitment to attending St. Charles to its unique Baptist identity in New Orleans and the diversity of voices among its denominational partners. The distance to the next closest church of this denominational leaning, size and style is in Baton Rouge — nearly 90 miles away. “We draw people from all around the greater New Orleans area if they still want to be Baptist, but Baptists of a certain variety.” The congregation is also invested in the community, even if they aren’t necessarily from the immediate area. With the gift of a large building that was expanded in the 1960s, the church is positioned in a part of town on a vibrant street corner where there is heavy foot traffic — also in a city that is a travel destination for many. “We have a really unique position here geographically,” Lott said. “It allows us to do some really creative things with our building.” With this historical building, Lott emphasizes that the congregation doesn’t want it to become a museum or to sit empty, but to be an active contributor to the greater good in the community. The intentionality of opening up the space is played out predominantly in the welcome of a number of nonprofit organizations into the building. St. Charles calls these organizations “Community Partners,” continuing to embrace the partnership model that is evident through their affiliations and national partnerships. Depending on the time of year, Lott explained, there can be around a dozen community partners using space within the building. From youth organizations, orchestras, counseling services and a pro bono law firm that has been partnering
with St. Charles for 20 years, the building houses offices and programming space for a plethora of organizations benefitting community members in the area. Alongside the well-established law firm, Habitat for Humanity of New Orleans was also a tenant of the building for many years, and expanded rapidly after Hurricane Katrina. By 2013, Habitat had the size and funding to establish its own building and moved in March of that year. “It makes sense that they were able to grow up and move on,” said Lott, adding that this was the precedent set for welcoming groups. Lott saw a great opportunity beyond a traditional tenant/renter relationship and guided the church toward something more intentional. This resulted in the shift toward the language of “community partnership” and the establishment of a covenant relationship with each partner, rather than a lease. There is also no facility cost to community partners, but rather a commitment to a donation. “Within that covenant we talk about a shared commitment among all of our organizations working for the greater good in New Orleans and beyond.” This covenant partnership is renewed annually with each group, and throughout the last three months of 2015, the community partners became the leaders in Wednesday night activities at the church. The work of each group was highlighted in worship on Sunday morning and then the focus of Wednesday evening, exposing the congregation to speaking with and about these organizations in different ways, and encouraging overlap between the church and community partners. Opportunities for church members to serve alongside community partners has also been a growing point in the church, particularly in supporting fundraising opportunities for the various organizations. There is one organization that has come from within the congregation, the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra (NOVO), started by a former Loyola student and choir member, which is now walking through a process with support from the St. Charles staff and members to become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. “In all ways, NOVO owns it. It is theirs and we have no hand in the day-to-day decisions that they make.
But we are here to be support and mentors and troubleshoot with them,” Lott said. “So we feel that we have a little more investment in NOVO — maybe more than any of our other partners, because that is the first one that has bubbled up from within the congregation. And now some of their choir members have come to sing in our choir just as ours have gone to sing in theirs. They had their first concert here in October, and over 300 people from the community attended.” A passion for music, noted Lott, has driven the way that the congregation connects with the community beyond these partnerships. In such a musical city and across from universities, there is a strong support for the arts, and St. Charles has a vibrant musical program with the congregation and partners. One widely anticipated musical event is the annual jazz worship service, held on the final Sunday of Mardi Gras, led by Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band. For 22 years, anywhere from 400-500 community members regularly attend, and get a taste of king cake fellowship and worship with St. Charles. Drawing community members to the church has resulted in a steady growth in membership over Lott’s two-year tenure at the church, and she affirms that she is always pleasantly surprised by the stories of people’s lives who come through the building at St. Charles and the stories of people within the church. “We are making connections and having some really great conversations here that open up space for transformation in people’s lives, and that process is also transforming our church,” Lott said. The congregation’s openness to welcome new things, new people and the broader community is encouraging, and their willingness to experiment and grow together alongside Lott has brought her consistent joy. “It’s positive, there’s a really good energy here.”
CARRIE MCGUFFIN is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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JUSTICE. FREEDOM. GOD’S MISSION.
Advocacy in Action Conference
March 8-10, 2016 Washington, D.C. Explore advocacy as a faithful expression of Christian mission • Develop a biblical basis for advocacy • Meet CBF partners who are actively involved in advocacy, including Bread for the World and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty • Learn from experts about critical current issues including predatory lending, criminal justice, human trafficking and immigration
Learn how to be an effective advocate – locally, nationally and globally • Exercise our voice by interacting with members of Congress • Experientially engage an issue (e.g., poverty) through various media, daily reflection and prayer, and discover how transformation occurs • Develop individual and congregational capacity for leadership around advocacy
Meet those engaged in hands-on ministries among most-affected populations through CBF missions
Find more information and register today at www.cbf.net/advocacy
Good but Not Safe by Joshua M. Speight, Missional Congregations Resources Manager
ne of my favorite literary scenes is found in the beloved The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, written by C.S. Lewis. Shortly after the Pevensie children journey through the wardrobe to Narnia, they are invited out of the snowy woods and into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. As they share a meal, they learn more about the world of Narnia. The conversation soon leads to questions about the great and royal lion Aslan, Lewis’ majestic Christ-figure of Narnia. It is Susan and Lucy who inquire about the lion asking if Aslan is a man. Mr. Beaver responds, “Aslan a man? Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the woods and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe. ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
RESOURCES FOR ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENT ¢ d365.org is an online devotional website produced by CBF-partner Passport, Inc. and sponsored by CBF, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Episcopal Church. “Journey to the Cross” begins on Ash Wednesday featuring devotionals for Lent. ¢ Words That Shape and Form — a 40-day resource for use by individuals, small groups and congregations produced by CBF.
C.S. Lewis has written a wonderful description of the Christian life. In Christ, we have a good teacher, but to follow Christ is never safe. Ash Wednesday begins our 40-day journey of Lent, moving with Jesus through his own suffering and death on the cross. This period of reflection and humility reminds us that from ashes we came and to ashes our bodies will return. Lent is a bleak reminder that “safe” is not our goal as Christ did not come to bring us “safety,” but to give us life abundantly. The invitation of Lent is to let go of our lives and go into the wilderness with Christ. Will you receive the invitation and risk not being “safe”? Will you let go of something that can make a real change — anger, fear, indifference, jealousy, prejudice? These 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter give of yourself what you are able to Christ the King, who isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King.
¢ Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days by Trevor Hudson — Available from CBF-partner The Upper Room, Trevor Hudson offers an easily accessible book in which he focuses on one word for each day of Lent. You are invited to pause, focus on the word, read a scripture and a brief meditation related to the word and then offer a prayer. ¢ Sacred Days: Following Jesus Through the Christian Year by Thomas R. Steagald ¢ Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross. Whether you’re familiar or unfamiliar with following the liturgical year, this book makes it easy to do, offering the significance and history of each season, ideas for living out God’s Story in your own life and devotions that follow the church calendar for each day of the year.
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CBF Vestal Scholar ministers cross-culturally in Puerto Rico By Emily Holladay
Jaime Fitzgerald (left) and Bethzaida Garcia (right) smile on the beach in Carolina, Puerto Rico, where Fitzgerald served for 10 weeks this past summer through Student.Church, the student ministry initiative of CBF.
ince 2010 the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has paired students and churches together for an immersive experience, during which the student dives into church ministry head on. This initiative, now known as Student.Church (formerly Collegiate Congregational Internships), allows students to serve as mentors for youth and children, while honing their craft as ministers with some of the sharpest pastors and lay leaders in CBF life. Throughout the years, Wanda Kidd, CBF’s collegiate ministries specialist, has been at the helm of the Student.Church initiative, matching students and churches, advocating for the interns and training both students and the congregations they serve on how to embrace one another for the short 10 weeks that they share life together. As Student.Church developed, Kidd became increasingly aware that many of the students she placed were not stepping outside their comfort zones. In fact, initially a majority of the students served for the summer at their home church or their college church. From the beginning, Kidd hoped the program would stretch students and help them grow in ways they never imagined, and so she started toying with the idea of cross-cultural internship experiences, in which the student would minister in a context outside of his or her comfort zone. As a result of this exploration, students from the southeast have now served a church in West Yellowstone, Mont., and many students from suburban areas have been placed in urban churches. The summer of 2015 marked not only a new name for the internship program, but the beginning of a new model of cross-cultural ministry. During the summer, Jaime Fitzgerald, a student at Gardner-Webb University’s School of Divinity and a CBF Vestal Scholar, packed her bags and traveled to Puerto Rico for 10 weeks of ministry with Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Knowing only conversational Spanish, Fitzgerald flew south in faith, courageously believing that God would move through her despite the language and cultural barriers. “I had a few fears going into the summer, with the language barrier being the biggest fear,” Fitzgerald shared. “I was nervous that I
would not be able to communicate well with the people in Puerto Rico.” Student.Church was not new to Fitzgerald as she previously served in 2012 at Randolph Memorial Baptist Church in Madison Heights, Va. When the opportunity opened to place a student in a cross-cultural experience of this magnitude, Kidd knew Fitzgerald was the right fit. “I knew that Jaime had worked in a church in Honduras the previous summer and that I needed a mature student with some cross-cultural experience to begin this partnership,” Kidd said. “We also encouraged Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis to look inward
and see if they had a college student who could be a homegrown intern. So the church actually had two interns: Jaime and Gabby Perez. It was a pretty steep learning curve for all involved, but I think it was a valuable experience for all of us.” Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis first learned of CBF in 2007 when its pastor, Jesús Garcia, visited the Dominican Republic to observe a church that they had been supporting. While there, he met Tommy Deal, then the associate coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida, who was working to start a partnership with Baptists in the Caribbean.
Throughout the summer, Fitzgerald met with youth from the community to study spiritual formation and introduce them to new spiritual disciplines and prayer practices.
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Fitzgerald (pictured center) worked alongside short-term mission teams from CBF churches that traveled to Puerto Rico for hands-on service opportunities. She assisted the groups in acclimating to their new context and provided encouragement in their ministry roles.
“How incredible!” Garcia affirmed. “I heard for the first time about CBF in the Dominican Republic. I told them that I was interested in learning more about CBF, and when I came back to Puerto Rico, I did my research and read all the information and history of CBF. Then, in November 2007, we officially became part of CBF of Florida. “One of the reasons that made us decide to start partnering with CBF was the fact that we strongly believe in women in ministry. Also, we believe in the power of relationships, and I think we can be an instrument in the Caribbean to connect more Hispanic churches to the Fellowship.” So, when CBF approached Garcia about investing in the life of a young woman minister, he jumped at the opportunity. Though the church had never had an intern before, he hoped the experience would help Fitzergald and his church to grow together in new ways.
“I saw the opportunity to help young students to broaden their vision of the Kingdom of God and could at the same time enrich their experience and talents,” Garcia reflected. “It was an excellent combination that strengthened our church and the students who participated in the internship.” During the summer, Fitzgerald’s responsibilities included hosting short-term mission groups that came to Puerto Rico for hands-on service. Many of these teams came to Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis from CBF churches in the South. As their liaison, Fitzgerald offered assistance in adjusting to the culture and overcoming the challenges therein. “I felt my work was most meaningful when I was able to empower the missionaries in leadership roles they may have never experienced before such as singing, playing with kids, teaching a Bible story, praying in public or sharing a testimony,”
Fitzgerald said. “It is so much fun to see the transformation that happens in the life of short-term missionaries from the first day they arrive in an unknown culture and place, and the confidence they have on the day they leave. That transformation is incredible to experience and to be a part of.” Fitzgerald was not content to continue the ministries the church was already doing, but expressed a sincere desire to assist the church in starting new ministries. During her 10 weeks of service, she created a spiritual formation group with youth from the community. The youth chose to meet with Fitzgerald once or twice a week to learn about spiritual disciplines. She walked them through creative ways of growing closer to God through disciplines practiced by Christians throughout history, asking them to keep a journal of their experiences with the practices.
Fitzgerald shared that creating the small group and developing relationships with the youth was one of the most impactful experiences of her summer. She saw students embrace their Creator in new and exciting ways, even in ways she hadn’t imagined would be unique or different for them. “My last week in Puerto Rico, I was able to be a part of a camping trip with several youth and other members of the community of Carolina,” Fitzgerald reflected. “One morning while there, I was asked to lead a morning devotion at sunrise on the beach. When I asked the youth with bleary eyes to raise their hands if they had ever seen a sunrise before and less than half of them raised their hands, my heart sank. “But it was a great opportunity to take a few moments of silence and stare at the beauty of God painting a portrait of bright colors in the sky.” And for Fitzgerald, that experience marked the transformational nature of the summer for her. Though she came never having experienced the culture before, fearful that her inability to communicate effectively would keep her from forming relationships, and unsure of what was ahead, God painted a portrait of bright colors in the community of Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis and within her own life. “This was the most transformational summer that I have ever experienced,” Fitzgerald emphasized.
“TRUST THE PROCESS, TRUST THE UNKNOWN, EMBRACE THE FEARS AND THE AWKWARDNESS AND REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE CALLED, YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU HAVE A HOST OF PEOPLE WHO ARE CHEERING YOU ON TO SUCCEED.” “I changed so much. I really learned and embraced a lifestyle of simplicity while in Puerto Rico and have brought that back with me to the States as a discipline I have been embracing in different ways such as de-cluttering, cooking homemade meals and trying to spend money on only things that I need. It has been a hard transition to embrace, but I know that is what God is calling me toward. “This summer I learned that sometimes God is the only presence that you have to rely on, and in order to not feel lonely we must be in relationship with God.” Garcia also shared that the summer experience transformed the life of his church, helping the congregations to see how God works to overcome barriers and build
relationships through love. “It was a wonderful experience because, although the language could be a barrier, both the church and Jaime decided that the language of love and service were stronger and more forceful than any obstacle,” Garcia affirmed. “The church learned to love Jaime and saw the effort and dedication she made to be the best intern.” Both Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis and CBF wish to continue partnering to send students to Puerto Rico in the future, and create more opportunities for cross-cultural experiences. “We hope to continue partnership with CBF and are looking forward to collaborating and hosting other interns,” Garcia shared. “We hope that other churches can see the model of church that we used to reach communities and continue to learn from other churches in the expansion of God’s Kingdom.” Student.Church continues to shape the lives of young people and churches, but this summer’s expedition to Puerto Rico will be one that will change the scope of the program for years to come. Fitzgerald, for one, stands ready to encourage others to step outside their comfort zones in a new setting. “I say go! Pack light, embrace the newness and the beauty of a new culture and don’t be too scared,” Fitzgerald encouraged. “The beautiful thing about Student.Church is that ministers and students are chosen carefully for each position with much prayer and discernment throughout the process. “Trust the process, trust the unknown, embrace the fears and the awkwardness and remember that you are called, you are loved and you have a host of people who are cheering you on to succeed.”
EMILY HOLLADAY is Associate Pastor of Children and Families at Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
Jesús Garcia (center), pastor of Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis, poses with Student.Church interns Gabby Perez (left) and Jaime Fitzgerald (right).
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CBF field personnel Jon and Tanya Parks share Christ through literacy ministries with Roma students in Kezmarok and other cities in Slovakia.
Visit cbf.net/affectonline for additional Opportunities to Affect, including: Around the Table: At Home In Small Groups
LEARN Learn more about the ministry of Jon and Tanya Park at cbf.net/parks
PRAY Pray for Jon and Tanya Parks and other CBF field personnel. Prayer requests from around the world are listed in Prayers of the People at cbf.net/pray
Literacy Ministry IN WORSHIP: A LITANY Missions Education Resource
The litany below can be incorporated into a worship service or other prayer time.
In preparation, read the article about CBF literacy ministries in Slovakia in this issue of fellowship! on pp. 8-11. This prayer could be used at the end of a small group discussion, in a prayer meeting or in worship in combination with one of the CBF Offering for Global Missions Slovakia Impact Story videos, found at www.cbf.net/literacy. A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net
*Bold words are John 1:1-4, 14 (CEB)
One: O God of words, speak to us.
Explore literacy ministries through videos, printed materials and Bible studies for all ages available at cbf.net/ogm
All: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning.
GIVE Your gifts to CBF’s Offering for Global Missions support field personnel worldwide. Find more information at cbf.net/give
One: In your wisdom and power, you spoke the world into being. In your gentleness, you breathed life into creation. All: Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being.
One: In you, we live and move and have our being. All: What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. One: You have told a great story and invited us to be a part of it. All: The Word became flesh and made his home among us. One: Through your Word, you offer us friendship. Grant that our words may speak of our goodness; let us speak of your love and light. All: We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. Amen.
Through Student.Church, Jaime Fitzgerald (left) served in Puerto Rico alongside Jesús Garcia, pastor of Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis.
Visit cbf.net/affectonline for additional Opportunities to Affect, including: Around the Table: At Church In Worship: Missions Moment
Student.Church 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. This session focuses on Student.Church, a CBF initiative formerly known as Collegiate Congregational Internships. The new name and a new model of cross-cultural ministry came to be in the summer of 2015. A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net
LEARN Learn more about the mission and vision of the Student.Church initiative at cbf.net/studentdot
PRAY Pray for Young Baptist initiatives like Student.Church using CBF’s Prayers of the People resource. Download the PDF at cbf.net/pray
NETWORK Explore opportunities to network with other Young Baptists at cbf.net/youngbaptists
GIVE Your generous gifts to CBF support initiatives like Student.Church and Student.Go. Find out more at cbf.net/give
2. Read the article, “Student.Church: CBF Vestal Scholar ministers cross-culturally in Puerto Rico” on pp. 26-29 in this issue of fellowship! 3. Prior to the session, enlist volunteers to share information from the article. Provide each a copy of fellowship! Ask them to be prepared to speak briefly about one of the following when the group gathers: • Jaime Fitzgerald • Jesús Garcia and Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis • Fitzgerald’s responsibilities and ministry in Puerto Rico • The impact of the experience on Fitzgerald’s life
4. Begin the session by telling about Student.Church and what prompted the change in the name and the model. 5. Call on the volunteers to speak in the order of the topics listed above. Be prepared to fill in information as needed. 6. End by sharing Fitzgerald’s statements at the end of the article. 7. Lead a discussion with the following questions: • Why is Student.Church an important initiative? • How does a cross-cultural experience enhance the education of a future minister? • How can we support Student.Church? 8. Close with prayer for the initiative, the discernment process and the students who are considering participating this year. Alternative Procedure: Distribute copies of fellowship! at the beginning of the small group session. Assign the topics listed in Step 3 to one or more participants and give them a few minutes to skim the article for information. Continue with steps 4–8.
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