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A spirit of unity
Joel McLendon photo
Representatives from Baptist organizations met recently at the CBF Resource Center in Atlanta to discuss ways the groups could work together in disaster response efforts. This meeting was one of several that have continued the cooperative spirit of the New Baptist Covenant.
Learning from each other A year ago at the New Baptist Covenant, thousands of North American Baptists, including members of the traditional African American conventions, gathered together in a historic event. The spirit of the New Baptist Covenant was one of transformation and illumination, as we learned from each other, worshipped together and formed new relationships and partnerships. As I see it, Euro-American Christians, be they mainline, evangelical, non-denominational or charismatic, rarely understand the incredible gospel power in black churches and the spiritual impact of black churches on culture. I don’t know exactly why this is so, but the time for this to change is now. I believe that the black Baptist tradition offers one of the brightest rays of hope for renewal in the Body of Christ in North America. Let me suggest four reasons I believe this is so. First, this tradition loves the biblical story. In its theology, liturgy and rhetoric, the emphasis is on the stories of the Bible and the grand narrative that they all comprise. In music, in worship, in preaching and in conversation, there is a remembering and retelling of the epic drama recorded in Scripture. And this is especially true when it comes to the drama of the life, death, resurrection and return of Jesus. I recently heard one African American pastor say, “The name of Jesus is sweet in our churches.” Second, this tradition has a passion for social justice. Having lived under the yoke of slavery, exploitation, segregation and racism, the members of black churches pray for justice and the pastors preach about justice. They do not shy away from addressing the social, political or moral issues of the day or advocating with leaders in business and government for the welfare of the community and the nation. Third, this tradition worships with freedom and joy in the Spirit. Music is lively and expressive. Preaching is dialogical and interactive. Prayer and praise are emotional as well as cognitive. I believe that when many Euro-Americans worship in an African American church, they are empowered and set free to celebrate in ways they fear to do in their own churches. Fourth, this tradition resists the demonic and endures pain with courage. Black Baptists know from experience that “we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places.” They have been radiant and resilient in overcoming institutional evil, systemic sin and organized oppression. Their conviction that Jesus understands suffering that He overcame suffering, and that He is preparing a place where there will be no more suffering has enabled them to bear suffering, with dignity and courage. These are some of the reasons I believe that the witness of black Baptists desperately needs to be heard and received within the larger Baptist family. We will not realize Dr. King’s vision of “the beloved community” with more demographic studies, sociological analysis or strategic plans. We must have nothing less than a spiritual revolution that encompasses our thinking, our behaving and our relating. Please do not interpret my words as a romanticized or sanitized vision of the African American church or community. Anyone who has read Robert Franklin’s most recent book, Crises in the Village, knows the daunting challenges it faces. Indeed, many of us believe that the American experiment itself is in peril because of rampant consumerism, unbridled greed and the growing disparity between rich and poor. Families are disintegrating. Global violence increases because of mindless terror and mindless military exploits. And one billion people live on less than one dollar a day. Our world is terribly broken. Yet the seeds for its healing are in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is to the church that the Gospel has been entrusted. When any tradition of the church is a good steward of that Gospel, healing and transformation take place. The African American church tradition, and particularly the Baptist stream of it, has stewVol. 19, No. 1 arded the Gospel not perfectly but profoundly. That stewardship needs to be studied, spread and shared. executive Coordinator • Daniel Vestal Here I am not referencing the megachurch preachers or televangelists (black or white) who preach a Coordinator, Fellowship prosperity gospel or market success as a substitute for the cross — but rather, speaking of those black BapAdvancement • Ben McDade tist churches, large, medium and small, who are both faithful to their tradition and relevant to their culture. Editor • Lance Wallace They tell the Jesus story. They act and speak prophetically. They rejoice in the Spirit. They embrace their managing Editor • Patricia Heys own suffering as well as the suffering of the world with grace. Associate Editor • Carla Wynn Davis These churches may not seem significant to the power structures of the world, the scholarly journals of Phone • (770) 220-1600 academic institutions, or even to popular media personalities. But they have incredible lessons to teach the Fax • (770) 220-1685 whole Body of Christ. They may even be the divinely appointed instruments for a spiritual revolution and E-Mail • email@example.com renewal that we so desperately need. Web Site • www.thefellowship.info May God grant all of us the good sense to listen and learn. fellowship! is published 7 times a year in Sept./Oct., Special I (Oct.), Nov./Dec., Jan./Feb., Mar./Apr., May/June, July/Aug. by The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Inc., 3001 Mercer University Dr., Atlanta, GA 30341-4115. Periodicals postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. USPS #015-625 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to “fellowship!” Newsletter, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, P.O. Box 450329, Atlanta, GA 31145-0329
Daniel Vestal, CBF Executive Coordinator Editor’s note: The piece also ran in the National Baptist Voice, a publication of the National Baptist Convention.
Contents 8-11 12
The spirit of the New Baptist Covenant CBF, schools provide educational opportunities for children of field personnel
Levesque builds relationships through teaching English in China
Five Tips for addressing poverty in the United States 2009 General Assembly in Houston Florida ministry center serves Overtown community
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.info | www.thefellowShip
A spirit of unity
Online subscription To change your fellowship! subscription to receive the electronic version of the magazine, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send your name and address and specific request to be removed from the mailing list. To subscribe to any of the Fellowship’s e-newsletters, including Fellowship Weekly, Prayer Associates or Words from the Executive Coordinator, go to www.thefellowship.info/subscribe.
meet Jennifer Graham Jennifer Graham recently joined the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Foundation as the first person dedicated solely to working with individual donors. As vice president of the CBF Foundation, she will be working with the many individuals who have a passion and heart for the Fellowship’s work and can help provide the long-term, permanent, endowment resources CBF needs to undergird its mission for the future. Hometown: Nashville, Tenn. Education: Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Okla.
Interesting Fact: Graham and her husband, Steve, have been involved with CBF since it began. They have served churches in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. “CBF is made up of real people who are committed to doing mission and ministry. My goal is to listen to and tell the wonderful CBF stories and invite people to support our lifechanging ministries. I am looking forward to the many new relationships that will develop as I begin my new journey with CBF.” Contact Jennifer Graham at email@example.com or (800) 352-8741. fellowship!
ost college students get a job or go on vacation over the summer, but Cody Moore decided that the summer between his junior and senior years at Texas A&M University would be best spent in Eastern Europe participating in CBF’s Student.Go program. Moore worked alongside CBF field personnel Dianne and Shane McNary and Ralph and Tammy Stocks ministering to the community of Romany people in Slovakia and Hungary, respectively.
fter 23 years working as a public school teacher, Judy Frost left her job in 2000 to pursue a call to ministry she felt so strongly about, she said it was “the most certain I’ve ever been about anything, other than marrying my husband.” Last summer, Frost attended CBF’s True Survivor event for Christian educators. “I loved the people, the networking and the spiritual formation piece that they do for us,” Frost said. “True Survivor is great
hill Martin has served in more than a few CBF-related roles, including CBF moderator, technology consultant, member care team member for field personnel serving in Eastern Europe and two-term Coordinating Council member. From the Fellowship’s inception, Martin has been on the ground floor, donating his time and energy alongside countless others to make CBF a reality. “Like everybody involved in the beginning of this move-
inda Williams’ love for internationals has led her to a variety of experiences over the years. She’s taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to elementary school children for 10 years in Richmond, Va., and she worked alongside multiple people groups in Toronto with CBF field personnel Marc and Kim Wyatt in 2004, teaching ESL and organizing a children’s Sunday School program. Currently, Williams attends Monument Heights Baptist Church in Richmond, where she and fellow teacher Julia Kil-
“I love the way CBF does missions by meeting people’s needs,” said Moore, a member at First Baptist Church in College Station, Texas. “[These people] have real physical needs, and they meet those first. The spiritual needs come along after that. “I would highly recommend the experience Cody Moore to any college student. It’s an absolutely fantastic, hands-on experience. You have a totally different perspective when you get back. I could see myself doing this long- term.”
because they provide someone to shepherd us. We’re always providing that for others. I go to get fresh new thoughts from others and to share if I feel like I can contribute something.” Originally from Louisville, Ky., Judy currently works as the minister of childhood education at First Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., and “loves helpJudy Frost ing children find themselves in God’s story.” She plans to attend this year’s True Survivor event in Orlando Feb. 23-25.
ment, you brought to the table the spiritual gifts and expertise you had and used that,” Martin said. “I must do ministry in the place that makes my heart sing, engages me and excites me, and I’ve found that at CBF.” Currently, Martin and his family live in Richardson, Texas, where they are actively involved Phill Martin at both Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas and Christ Church, a CBF-sponsored church plant in Rockwell.
lian began the Monument Heights English Language School in 2001. The school offers classes for all levels of international students. “We also offer a citizenship class and have had the pleasure of celebrating with many of our students who have become U.S. citizens,” said Williams. “Since adolescence, I have always Linda Williams felt God’s call on my life to foreign missions. I’m so grateful for these opportunities and the support I’ve been given from the Monument Heights church family.”
To nominate someone to be featured in an upcoming Fellowship People, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 4
Health clinics provide care to Romany people in Slovakia The Bible is filled with stories of Jesus reaching out to the outcasts of society — tax collectors, thieves, lepers. In modern-day Slovakia, the Romany people live as outcasts. Also referred to as gypsies, Roma are a minority who experience discrimination not only socially but by government systems as well. Even in Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia, Roma live in settlements that are separated from the rest of the city by natural or man-made barriers such as railroad tracks, creeks or walls. In Košice, CBF field personnel Dianne and Shane McNary work to communicate acceptance to people who are 2009 Clinic Dates accustomed to January 12-16 February 9-13 being ignored. March 9-13 As part of their April 6-8; 15-17 ministry, the May 11-15 McNarys facilitate June 8-12 health clinics
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at the all-Roma school and local Roma churches. These clinics relate to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals of improving maternal health and achieving universal primary education. “Christ came to touch and heal people where they were,” said Shane McNary. “These clinics allow us to meet the students and faculty in their home surroundings and share God’s love through health education and services.” Individuals and teams are needed to serve for one week at the monthly health clinics. The clinics began in September and run monthly through June. Each month the clinic focuses on a different topic — from cardiovascular health to the importance of clean water. Fellowship Baptists with experience in conducting general medical assessments are needed to serve. “Churches and members who come to serve can share their expertise and
Photo courtesy of Catherine Bahn
love with people who are usually pushed aside when seeking health care,” said Dianne McNary. “Showing concern for someone’s physical health can open the door to sharing God’s love. Churches that have health care ministries can use their experience on the mission field to grow and develop their own ministries while sharing with those who are in need.”
To learn more about short-term missions engagements or long-term partnerships in Slovakia, contact Chris Boltin at email@example.com or (800) 352-8741.
To financially support the McNarys’ ministry, give to the CBF Offering for Global Missions at www.thefellowship.info/give or use the envelope in this issue. fellowship!
In the heart of Virginia, at the crossroads of two major highways, Crossroads Community Church has found a place to serve. The new church start is reaching out to the Zion Crossroads community, located just outside of Charlottesville, as the area experiences residential and commercial growth. Started by church planters Bruce and Susan Hunter, the church has focused on ministering to the community since it began a year ago. “We’re concerned about bringing people into relationship with God,” said Bruce Hunter. “Jesus was concerned about people on the periphery of society. And we recognize that we can make a difference
where we are.” And with a $20,000 grant from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Crossroads has expanded its ministry to the community — from a neighborhood block party to reaching out to low-income residents who were being displaced from their homes. “Church starting is hard work that requires lots of commitment and resources,” said CBF’s Bo Prosser. “Giving to help fund new starts allows the Fellowship to continue supporting our church starters with the needed tools to enhance their ministries. Your gifts also allow more and more new starts in areas where there may be no Christian voice at all.”
Photos courtesy Crossroads Community Church
CBF funds enable church start to expand ministry
Members of Crossroads write messages on cards for people needing encouragement, prayers and well wishes.
The church held an outdoor event to help connect with local businesses and residents.
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To give to the Fellowship’s missions and ministries, go to www.thefellowship.info/give. Thank you for giving to the life-changing work of the Fellowship. Your gifts make a difference.
River ministry provides critical medical care Along a river in Southeast Asia, families live in extreme poverty. A photographic look at the raw poverty of this area would lead one to believe that this is a picture of life along the river hundreds of years ago — but it’s a current image. The river is life to people in this area. It’s not only their main source of water, but often their only source of transportation, food and income. Children swim, bathe and wash clothes in the river. Often their most basic needs, including health care, go unmet. For a child, a common illness can become life-threatening when left untreated. Though free clinics are available in more populated areas, along the river parents often lack the money and means of transportation to get there. The Fellowship’s river ministry in
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Southeast Asia began to help meet the growing need for medical care in remote places. Since many of the villages in this area can’t be reached by car, a riverboat was constructed to bring a floating medical clinic to people living in areas along the river. Since the project began, CBF field personnel, local Christians and medical workers from partner churches in the United States and Southeast Asia have been the hands and feet of this ministry. This February congregations will be studying about the river ministry in
Southeast Asia in the Fellowship’s missional formation resources. Using Ignite, CBF’s missional formation resource for youth, teenagers will learn about the kingdom of God and offering salvation and healing to the “outsiders” or “neglected people” of the world. Teenagers will participate in a Bible study about the healing work of God through the prophet Elisha. Youth will also engage in worship together, as well as visiting a medical clinic during this study to help them understand God’s love through the acts of spiritual and physical healing. They will be encouraged to extend God’s healing love to those in need in their everyday lives.
For more information about CBF’s missional formational resources, visit www.missionseducation.org.
Give thanks to God for a new generator installed on the medical boat. Pray for Karen, one of CBF’s field personnel, and the medical crew who continue to see record numbers of patients. Continue to ask God for the re-opening of a route that has recently been closed due to local politics. Pray also for the many people who are in need of medical care along the closed route. fellowship!
NewBaptist ovenant C F
One year later partnerships, relationships, celebrations continue
or three days last January, more than 15,000 Baptists met together in Atlanta in a spirit of unity, celebration and Christian community. The Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant was a historic event, with 30 Baptist conventions and organizations represented. During the celebration, Jimmy Allen, chair of the program committee and a member of CBF partner Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., said that the event was “not just a moment” but a movement. A year later, the spirit of the New Baptist Covenant continues, as the Baptist organizations and the Christians
and churches they represent engage in partnerships across the country. “The spirit of cooperation and unity that was so visible at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration continues to thrive, and I hope will continue to permeate relationships and partnerships in the years to come,” said Daniel Vestal, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. “Joining together with other Baptists and Christians is part of the foundation and framework of the Fellowship. When we put aside our differences and focus on the gospel of Jesus, we live out the kingdom of God.”
The New Baptist Covenant’s beginnings go back to 2006, when former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Bill Underwood, president of Mercer University, invited 18 Baptist leaders to a meeting at The Carter Center in Atlanta, where the gathering decided they would transcend their differences and seek a common purpose. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus, and laid the groundwork for the 2008 Celebration. Now, five New Baptist Covenant regional gatherings are planned for 2009. Baptists will once again transcend their differences of race, culture and convention affiliation. These gatherings are sched-
2009 New Baptist Covenant Regional Meetings Jan. 31 — Birmingham, Ala. 16th Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute — Confirmed speakers: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; Robert Smith, professor of preaching at Samford University; Wayne Flynt, professor emeritus at Auburn University; Stephen Black, director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of Alabama; Will Campbell, writer and preacher; Marian WrightEdelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Kate Campbell, singer and songwriter. www.se.newbaptistcovenant.org April 2-4 — Baptist Border Crossing, Liberty, Mo. Pleasant Valley Baptist Church — Confirmed speakers: President Carter; Tony Campolo, author, speaker and professor emeritus of Eastern University; David Coffey, president of the Baptist World Alliance; David Emmanuel Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention; Carolyn Ann Knight, evangelist, speaker and founder of Can Do Ministries, Inc. www.baptistbordercrossing.org
Jacqueline Gardiner-Veal photo
April 24-25 — Winston-Salem, N.C. Wake Forest University — Confirmed speakers: President Carter; Maya Angelou, professor at Wake Forest. www.newbaptistcovenantse.org
Aug. 6-7 — Norman, Okla. Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center — Confirmed speakers: President Carter
Organizers of the North Carolina regional gathering of the New Baptist Covenant met at Wake Forest University, preparing for the April 23-24 f e levent l o w sthat h i pwill ! jbe a nheld u a r on y / fthe e b campus. ruary 2009
Sept. 10-12 — Chicago, Ill. University of Chicago — Speakers: President Carter; James Forbes, senior minister emeritus of The Riverside Church in New York City
ule for Birmingham, Ala.; Liberty, Mo.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Norman, Okla.; and Chicago. Carter is scheduled to speak at each of the events. “As a person who has attended many national religious events, I left Atlanta saying this was the best one I had ever attended,” said Stan Howell, a member of Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. “It was refreshing at the New Baptist Covenant gathering to hear speakers who, representing the broad racial and cultural diversity of our nation, seemed to be focused on reminding us of the basic Christian tenants and how we should be living out what we profess. I plan to be at the next New Baptist Covenant event.”
The Fellowship has been involved with the New Baptist Covenant since its beginning and provided resources and personnel support during last year’s celebration. As part of its vision to be the presence of Christ in the world, the Fellowship relates to organizations such as the New Baptist Covenant, Baptist World Alliance and Christian Churches Together in the USA. These relationships expand the Baptist network and create even more opportunities for Fellowship Baptists to engage in God’s mission around the world. Numerous relationships and partnerships formed out of the New Baptist Covenant — from regional, seminary and chaplaincy events to disaster relief and state
partnerships. (See pages 10-11 for more). In November, at the convocation of CBF of South Carolina, Fellowship Baptists gathered under the theme “Together With One Voice, Glorify God” to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Baptists. The event’s speakers included Vestal and William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, who both spoke at the 2008 Celebration in Atlanta. “We Baptists have been around for 400 years, and this movement and spirit of the New Baptist Covenant gives me great hope for the future of Baptists and our collective ability to join God’s work in the world,” Vestal said. By Patricia Heys, CBF Communications
Seminary students form network, plan March event Building on connections formed during the 2008 New Baptist Covenant meeting, students from 17 seminaries across the country will gather March 26-28 at Mercer University in Atlanta. The conference will be the first official
event of the Baptist Theological Student Network, a group of Baptist seminaries coming together to focus on fellowship, missions, education and networking. The conference’s theme will be “Serving the ‘least of these,’” based on Matthew 25:34-40.
“It’s important that students have the opportunity to learn from other students who go to other schools, have grown up in different parts of the country and come from different Baptist denominations,” said Lauren Waggoner, program director of the network and a student at McAfee School of Theology, a Fellowship partner. Waggoner also hopes conference participants will learn new approaches to ministry from each other and that the event will help to bridge gaps between Baptist groups. The conference will include speakers, breakout sessions and mission opportunities at Atlanta-area outreach organizations including a food bank, homeless shelter and prison ministry.
Members of the BTSN steering committee (left to right) Rodney Thomas, Brite Divinity School; Lauren Waggoner, McAfee School of Theology; Alan Culpepper, dean, McAfee School of Theology; Evita Smith, Candler School of Theology; John Withum, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary; Aileen Lawrimore, M. Christopher White School of Divinity.
Unity and Cooperation Baptists unite for disaster response In the spirit of the New Baptist Covenant, several Baptist groups are uniting around an area of common ministry — disaster response. When disasters strike, mobilization of people and resources is crucial, and these Baptist groups have discovered they can help more people when they work together. Some groups are able to feed thousands; others are able to mobilize hundreds of volunteers. And when these resources combine and work in tandem, more can be accomplished together than alone, according to Charles Ray, CBF’s disaster response coordinator. “This is a great partnership of resources,” Ray said. “We’re working together on trust and in trust. I have [disaster response partners] I can count on.” Randy Vaughn, of the National Baptist Convention, talks with other Baptist leaders about disaster response partnerships.
The disaster response meeting was held in November in Atlanta, hosted by CBF. Baptists participating included CBF, Texas Baptist Men, North Carolina Baptist Men, Canadian Baptist Ministries, National Baptist Convention USA, American Baptist Churches USA and Virginia Baptist Men. “The intent is if a disaster strikes in a state with one of our members, we will generally bow to the partner closest and strongest to the disaster. We would follow their leadership, and they would be expected to use us as an equal under their leadership,” Ray said. Currently, this disaster response collaborative plans to meet twice a year, continuing to invite additional Baptist groups to join the combined effort.
Chaplains join together in spirit of New Baptist Covenant
Joel McLendon photo
Rod Reilly photo
In an effort to develop new relationships and identify future opportunities for collaboration, chaplains and pastoral counselors endorsed by the Fellowship and American Baptist Churches USA gathered together during the 2008 CBF General Assembly in Memphis. The group, which included approximately 120 CBF chaplains and pastoral counselors and 20 American Baptist chaplains, attended a luncheon and two seminars. CBF endorsed chaplain Angela Lowe, who serves as director of pastoral care at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas, said the two groups hope to work together in the future by possibly holding joint continuing education seminars. “I think theologically we’re closely aligned, and we share the same passion for pastoral care,” Lowe said. “Our theme at CBF is to be the presence of Christ, and I believe that’s true of the American Baptists as well. I see joint seminars as a way to strengthen relationships and build networks.” Hugh Dukes, an American Baptist-endorsed retired Army chaplain who attended the gathering, said it helped him broaden his circle of Baptist friends and colleagues. “We share the history and Baptist tradition,” Dukes said. “That gives us far more in common historically than the sorts of things that would divide us. I think both groups by meeting together have demonstrated an openness and CBF endorsed military chaplains Joanna inclusive nature to other Harris, left, and Peter Ott attended the 2008 General Assembly in Memphis. Baptist denominations.”
Caroline Davis photo
Lynn Douglas, far left, and other staff members at St. Paul’s Methodist Church have welcomed CBF Alabama staff Mike Lewis, seated, Brent McDougal and Jennifer Fuller.
Alabama CBF relocates to historic church In early November, Alabama CBF moved its offices to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, a historically African American church in downtown Birmingham. The move gave the organization the additional space it needed and accomplished a long-time goal. “It fulfilled a dream of moving downtown into the civil rights district and helped us express the kind of organization we aspire to be — an ecumenical organization willing to cross racial lines to pursue issues such as justice
making and poverty,” said Brent McDougal, coordinator of Alabama CBF. The church is next to 16th Street Baptist Church where four girls were killed in 1963 when the church was bombed. The move has led to new relationships. “We have already seen an expansion of relationships with African American churches, as well as with community leaders not only in Birmingham, but across Alabama,” he said. “I feel like this location will help us expand the kingdom of God.”
CBF of Arkansas partners with local African American college for community renewal Most century-old houses are renovated to preserve history. But the 1880s house sitting on a corner in a once forgotten neighborhood of Little Rock, Ark., was restored to make history. Through a unique partnership between CBF of Arkansas and Arkansas Baptist College, this once condemned building has become a symbol of renewal in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. In 2007, CBF of Arkansas coordinator Ray Higgins was invited by an African American pastor to a meeting with Fitz Hill, the new president of the local college, which is the only historically African American Baptist college west of the Mississippi River. Hill shared his vision for this once dwindling school — that students with the greatest Right: College president Fitz Hill, needs and least resources might have left, and CBF of Arkansas staff Ray equal chance to succeed. And, to Hill, Higgins and Charles Ray, right, discuss future restoration efforts. renewing the college meant renewing the surrounding neighborhood. Below: CBF of Arkansas moved its office to the Arkansas Baptist Inspired by the vision, Higgins arranged College campus, where it’s at the a meeting with Hill and Charles Ray, CBF center of a neighborhood-wide of Arkansas’ special projects coordinator. revitalization effort. As they drove through the college’s neighborhood, Ray saw a condemned house as an opportunity to begin neighborhood renewal. Hill, the college and CBF of Arkansas leadership agreed. The college purchased the house, paid for renovation and now leases the building to CBF of
Arkansas as office space. Already, the partnership is revitalizing the neighborhood. The college has purchased four similar houses to restore, and CBF of Arkansas is working on a plan to build additional affordable housing in partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing. “We are committed to building relationships based on trust and respect for one another. We are convinced that our partnership is one of the finest examples of pooling our talents and resources for the good of the community,” Higgins said.
CBF, partner schools provide educational opportunities for children of field personnel
Photo courtesy of Mercer
ften Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel leave behind a lot in order to follow God’s call. Many have left their homes, their extended families and their former jobs. While financial gifts to CBF provide for their living and ministry expenses and a salary, it’s often not enough to cover the rising cost of a U.S. college education. But thanks to a partnership, CBF field personnel don’t have to worry about not being able to provide a college education for their children. Nine Baptist colleges and universities offer undergraduate tuition scholarships for children of CBF field personnel. Scott and Ana Marie Houser, who serve as CBF field personnel Joshua Stocks, far left, and Elizabeth and Daniel Houser attend Mercer University in Macon, Ga. in South Africa, have two children studying at Mercer University in Macon, stands you better and are more sympathetic children to college in the United States.” Ga., thanks to the scholarship. Elizabeth, in general to your needs.” Ralph and Tammy Stocks, CBF field who’s studying to be a physician’s assisIn addition to the scholarship from the personnel working with the Roma people tant, and her brother Daniel, a sophomore school, CBF offers direct financial assistance in Hungary, have two children attending majoring in Spanish, have both found the to children of field personnel. Currently, Baptist schools. Their daughter Amy is at school’s Baptist atmosphere supportive. 18 students are receiving $7,696 per year Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., “I found it very hard my first semester for four years for a total benefit of $30,784 to major in social work, and their son Joshadjusting to life in the States,” said Daniel. each. Even with the tuition grants from parua is study criminal justice at Mercer. “The school is really caring and wants to ticipating schools, CBF still provides a total “The scholarship opens up the possibilihelp with that separation. Faculty underof approximately $135,000 each year for the ties for our kids to look at schools they might room, board and other expenses. not otherwise consider,” said Tammy Stocks. “Given the loss of income a couple nor“It relieves us of some of the financial conSchools offering scholarships mally incurs when accepting an overseas cerns of putting our kids through college, Bluefield College, Bluefield, Va. ministry assignment, this tuition assistance and they graduate without enormous debt. Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C. Chowan University, Murfreesboro, N.C. partially offsets this loss,” said Scott Houser. The fact that the schools partner with CBF Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, N.C. “I know of no other aspect of our support and offer such scholarships indicate their Mercer University, Macon, Ga. package that is more appreciated than the special interest in our kids and, with us being Meredith College, Raleigh, N.C. scholarship assistance to children of field peran ocean apart, this is reassuring to know.” Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, N.C. sonnel going to college,” said Jim Smith, the Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. Fellowship’s director of field ministries. “These By contributing writer Sue H. Poss, Wingate University, Wingate, N.C. parents want to be able to afford to send their Greenville, S.C.
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If you are interested in financially supporting educational opportunities for children of CBF field personnel use the envelope provided and make your check payable to CBF. To contribute to this year’s budget, write “Missionary Kids Scholarships Fund” in the memo line. To contribute to the endowment which will support educational opportunities in the years ahead, write “Scholarship for Children of Field Personnel Endowment” in the memo line.
Celebrate New Year’s in Atlanta
Antiphony 2009 for college and graduate students
Dec. 29, 2009 – Jan. 2, 2010 First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga. Faith. Hope. Love. Now. In a global climate of need, change, conflict and disparity — these three things remain — and the world needs them … now. Come to engage in honest dialogue and discussion, to ask hard questions, consider new answers and open yourself to God’s leading your life. Come stretch your worldview, worship in different ways, hear and be heard and really listen to God. Attend the 2009 Antiphony event and you just might walk away changed forever. Cost: $265 Includes all meals, a four-night stay at a nearby Holiday Inn, conference programming, t-shirt and New Year’s Eve gala.
Web portals improve service Brand new Web portals for Church Benefits Board (CBB) members have been unveiled to provide greater access to information and easier navigation. The redesigned CBB site, www.churchbenefits.org, debuted in October. It features a new interface with a new organization and quick links to help users navigate more quickly. CBB is the exclusive administrator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 403(b) retirement plan. Working with partners Retirement Wealth Management Inc., and The Standard, CBB’s new Web site provides access to account information any time, day or night. fellowship!
Levesque builds relationships through teaching English in China
n 2004, after a 23-year career in environmental management, Cyndi Levesque began thinking about retiring early and pursuing a new vocation. were to come here to replace Don and Karen,” said Levesque. “Don’t get me wrong — we could never replace them. But we’re here in their apartment, teaching their classes. God had [these] plans many years before I knew them.” This semester, Levesque has 18 classes a week at the university and a total of 80 students – all of whom, she said, are eager to speak English and improve their oral language skills. “I think it’s because they Cyndi Levesque teaches English at Guangxi University, a school realize English is a universal with 30,000 students. language. If they know English, or some individuals ranging from young adults to English, they will improve their situation in senior adults, Levesque teaches a practical life,” said Levesque. She added that not all lesson — such as how to say, “Hello, how of her students are English majors, but all are you?” — followed by a Bible story. are required to speak English. “Some will Teaching from the gospel of Mark, she become interpreters or go into a business uses scripture to explain the difference where they must speak English.” between present tense and past tense verbs. Levesque has discovered that some Vocabulary words, such as “disciple,” are university students also attend the free also taken from the text. English language classes she teaches at “We talk about, ‘What does it mean Gong He Lu Church. Though her university to be happy? What does it mean to have teaching contract prohibits her from faith?’” said Levesque. “This opens the teaching religion in a campus classroom, door to talk about Christ and what he did Chinese law assures the freedom to discuss for us. I feel very good about being able religion within a government registered to share whatever is on my heart in these church or meeting place. classes at the church. It’s an open forum to In the weekly class attended by 40 to 50 share my faith.” CBF photos
“I felt a strong urge by God to do more with my life than continue in a comfortable job where I tried to fit God’s work into my own busy career,” said Levesque, of San Antonio, Texas. “I have always been very active in church, but I felt a call to give God more of my time.” Levesque enrolled in a Christian ministry degree program at Wayland Baptist University’s campus in San Antonio. Soon after starting classes, she began to feel inexplicably drawn toward the people of China – a country she had never visited and knew little about. Now, four years later, this recently appointed Cooperative Baptist Fellowship representative is living in Nanning, China, teaching English writing and speaking classes to students on the campus of Guangxi University during the week and free English language classes at a Chinese Protestant church in downtown Nanning on Sunday evenings. Levesque is teaching on the same university campus where recently retired CBF representatives Don and Karen Barnes taught for six years, and her weekly English classes at Gong He Lu Church are the very same classes that the Barnes taught. Moreover, Levesque and her husband, Marc, are living in the Barnes’ old twobedroom apartment — a detail they were surprised — and delighted — to learn upon arriving in China in August. “I believe God had this plan that we
There are many ways to engage in full-time missions through the Fellowship.
Nanning is the capital city of the Guangxi province in southern China.
On the 30-minute bus ride back to the campus following her Sunday evening class, Levesque is often approached by a Chinese individual who will either ask her, “May I practice my English?” or open a conversation by saying, “I went to Guangxi University.” If it’s the latter, Levesque said she usually asks who the person’s teachers were, and many times, the answer is Don and Karen Barnes. “You won’t believe how many people taking English classes in this part of China have been impacted by Don and Karen Barnes over the years,” said Levesque. Like the Barnes, Levesque tries to be an example of Christ by being available to students and fellow teachers for help or friendship.
“Being the presence of Christ here on the university campus is all about relationship and developing friendships that can prepare the way for questions about what I believe,” Levesque said. Other opportunities involve encouraging Chinese Christians. “Recently we met a young, disabled Christian man whose hand had been blown off by a bomb,” Levesque said. “He desperately wanted an English study Bible, and we were able to get one for him from Hong Kong. This encouraged not only his English study, but also his faith walk.” Though she doesn’t know how long she may stay, or what new opportunities may arise, Levesque feels perfect peace about where she is and what she is doing in China.
“I know that God has been preparing this place for me because of all the answers to my prayers. I can’t tell you the big picture, but God has a plan,” said Levesque. “It may be that one person we touch may go on to become a church leader in China some day. I am blessed that my husband has always encouraged and supported me to find and follow God’s will, which now involves both of us being here in China.” “Every day we get up and pray, ‘God, show us what you want us to do.’ It’s just such a powerful feeling to be where God wants you to be,” she said. By contributing writer Laurie Entrekin, Marietta, Ga.
To learn more, contact Matt Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 352-8741. fellowship!
for addressing poverty in the United States By Jeremy Lewis
people who can encourage us
Addressing poverty in the United States
and support us. We become
Fellowship Baptists are doing and should be doing as we seek to be the presence of Christ. How can we truly seek to be the presence of Christ if we do not hold central to our discipleship a commitment to caring for people living in poverty and move from charity to seeking justice? As we each seek to be faithful, there are numerous opportunities through the Fellowship and in our own neighborhoods to live out our commitment to addressing poverty.
Get to know your neighbors What does this have to do with reducing poverty in the United States? When we get
to know our neighbors, we find more ways that our
a group that can help each other instead of individuals just looking out for ourselves and our immediate family. Suggested action: If you haven’t taken part in CBF’s “It’s Time: A Journey Toward Missional Faithfulness” study with your church or a group of friends, commit to participating in the study
J.V. McKinney photo
and around the world is at the heart of what
In Helena-West Helena, Ark., CBF field personnel, partner churches and local residents are working together to address poverty in the community.
and being open to new ways God is directing you where you live, work and worship.
Suggested action: Seek out intergenerational friendships with people who are taking seriously their commitment to following Christ. Find ways
Read the Bible daily
of listening to other people’s journeys and start or
There are plenty of books with great
develop an accountability group that can help you
ideas about reducing poverty, and we
remain committed to putting in action what you
lives are connected to each other. Over time, our
should read as much as we can. However, when
expanding sense of who our neighbors are lays the
we are in relationship with the Bible by reading
foundation for a deeper engagement with those
it daily, we cannot avoid the biblical imperatives
around us, wherever they may be and in whatever
to care for our neighbors and for people who
circumstance they may find themselves in. When
are poor and hungry. When read in the everyday
we find our lives interconnected, we see God in new
context of our lives, we find ourselves convicted
ways through the people with whom we interact.
by the words, images and stories found throughout
CBF’s 20-year commitment to addressing poverty
the biblical narrative. Many Bibles have a reading
in the 20 poorest counties of the United States,
neighbors directly around your home, commit
plan or if they don’t you can find one on the
can provide structure and encouragement, but
to inviting them over for dinner to spend some
Internet or at your local bookstore.
the relationships that are formed in this program
Suggested action: If you don’t know your
Suggested action: Read Jesus’ parables
Address poverty where you live Often, it’s easier to work to address poverty in other places. When we go
to other places, the poverty we encounter is less
learn through relationship with Christ.
Engage in a long-term commitment Relationships make the difference. A program, such as Together for Hope,
continue to drive it. These long-term relationships
looking for ways to see and hear Christ’s
cause us to reevaluate our priorities and to
commitment and care for the poor.
become an advocate for and with those who often
do not have the same opportunity to use their
Live what you learn
voice. All of this takes time, and so we see how
So much of what we learn from
important a long term vision and commitment
the Bible is countercultural, and
can be. Suggested action: Begin to discern what
personal. We may learn people’s names and faces,
often trying to follow God’s direction can lead to
but it’s different than knowing we may see those
unexpected challenges. When we practice following
your gifts and strengths are and start to explore
people around our town, neighborhood, school or
Christ daily, we allow ourselves to potentially be
how God is calling you to engage with the
church. If we start to end poverty locally, each of
changed and transformed in meaningful ways.
Fellowship in a long-term way. One place to find
our actions takes on new meaning and urgency.
Such formation provides the very foundation for
opportunities through the Fellowship is by going to
Our neighbors, friends and family become the
For more information on how you can partner with CBF to help reduce poverty in the United States, contact Jeremy Lewis, the Fellowship’s Together for Hope manager, at email@example.com or (800) 352-8741. 16
Make plans now to attend
2009 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Houston, July 2-3 Welcome to your neighborhood — a new one, a global one, one where we’re all connected, one where Christ’s compassion extends to our neighbors down the street and around the world, one where we are changed as God changes lives through us, and one where — together — we can make a world of difference. Come this summer to a city as diverse as Houston, where you can embrace the world by getting to know your new global neighbors. Hear from them why this movement called Cooperative Baptist Fellowship matters, and leave the Assembly knowing you are part of this growing movement of God in the world.
To register, go to
www.thefellowship.info/assembly or call (800) 352-8741. Schedule Wednesday, July 1 Leadership Summit and Auxiliary events Thursday, July 2, and Friday, July 3 General Assembly with its ministry workshops, worship, resource fair, fellowship events, missions opportunities, event for college students, and much more. Saturday, July 4 Auxiliary events plus the opportunity to celebrate July 4th at Houston’s Freedom Over Texas Festival with its live concerts and fireworks display
The stories of Tawanna, Eric and Shawntris tell the difference one CBF-supported ministry is making
n one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of the poorest cities in the country, Touching Miami with Love is positioned for great things and to see great change. “Our calling is to this neighborhood and to see it being transformed into a picture of God’s kingdom here on earth — a community that’s safe where people can live and raise a family. One that shares the love of Christ by offering hope, opportunity and resources,” said the ministry’s executive director Jason Pittman, who serves as one of CBF’s field personnel along with his wife, Angel. For the past 15 years, this CBFsupported ministry has worked among children, youth, homeless and other underserved populations in the Overtown neighborhood, a small struggling community widely affected by drugs, violence and most significantly — poverty. But residents like Tawanna have seen the difference one ministry can make. She came to Touching Miami with Love (TML) looking for child care and found so much more. She found friendship from Angel Pittman, who stood beside her during a painful illness. She found people that would help her celebrate her young son’s birthday even when she only had the money for cupcakes or a present, not both. She found a ministry that understands touching a city with Christ’s love means touching and changing lives.
Helping youth find purpose, meaning Eric was wary at first. He was curious about the youth club he’d heard about and the summer camps for children and 18
teens that he’d seen in action. Gradually he moved from outside the ministry’s fence, where he’d casually observe, to inside the doors of TML, where positive role models like youth director Christy Craddock seek to be Christ’s presence. Now, life is different for this teen, who is finding meaning and purpose in God. At a recent local Christian conference Eric even led in worship. “This was a kid that was kind of hardened when we first met him, and now he’s in front of 1,500 people giving God the glory,” Jason Pittman said. It’s just one story of a life redirected. “I am seeing young people make choices to follow Christ,” said Craddock, who has served as one of CBF’s field personnel since 2007. “They are choosing not to get caught up in the crime, violence, drug dealing and promiscuity around them. Instead, they are choosing to open their hearts up to God and to allow God to mold their lives.”
Touching Miami with Love’s mission is to share Christ’s love by offering hope, opportunities and resources to children and families in Miami.
It’s not easy to be that different in Overtown, where teenagers face many challenges. Some have been robbed. Others drop out of school. Many have been asked by drug dealers to make deliveries. Craddock recently counseled and prayed with two girls whose friend had been shot and killed. “After the girls left my office, I thought to myself, ‘This is why I moved to Miami. I moved here to be with young people as they deal with life’s struggles,’” Craddock said. “I don’t have all the answers and I can’t fix their problems. But, I can offer them love, encouragement, and I can share with them that there is a God who knows their struggles and who longs to heal their hurts.”
Making strides through advocacy Like most staff, assistant director Keri Spears knows the children and families who participate on a regular basis. Each year she helps many file their tax returns through TML’s free tax service. Last year one of the more than 350 returns she helped file was for Shawntris, whose children have been involved with TML for years. Spears noticed Shawntris was only claiming two of her eight children as dependents. For years, other people had been using the children’s social security numbers, claiming them as dependents. “This is a regular occurrence in Over-
Christy Craddock, left, isChristy Craddock, left, one of CBF’s field personnel is one of CBF’s field serving at Touching Miami personnel serving at with Love, where she Touching Miami with ministers to local youth. Love, where she ministers to local youth.
town,” said Spears, one of CBF’s field personnel who has served in Miami since 2002. “Neighbors claim other children as ‘nieces,’ ‘nephews’ and ‘cousins,’ and far too often the parent does not know what to do so in the end they do nothing.” That’s what Shawntris had done over the years while someone else received tax credit for her children. When Spears told her claiming all her children meant an extra $5,000, Shawntris decided to fight for her rights, allowing Spears to contact the IRS and ask for an investigation. “I can only hope that we continue to build relationships with the families in our neighborhood and that they allow us the privilege to become a part of their family,” Spears said.
Keeping the ministry vibrant, growing Without Fellowship Baptists, Touching Miami with Love wouldn’t exist. It never would have started, and it would struggle to
secure support needed to continue. Though be unable to live in Miami and serve in now partly funded through grants and a community that can be so significantly local organizations, CBF individuals and influenced through the presence of Christ. churches still provide vital financial support But Angel Pittman insists when CBF and also come to Miami to serve. individuals and churches give, it doesn’t “Church partnerships are very just help Overtown. important to the continuation of our “When folks give, their hearts are ministry,” Spears said of the more than 70 invested, and they’re being part of CBF partner churches who have served at something bigger than themselves,” TML. “With the aid of volunteers we are she said. able to minister to many more children, youth and adults.” By Carla Wynn Davis, CBF Communications CBF of Florida provides for the TML building, and through CBF’s Offering for Global Missions, TML Online — Go to www.thefellowship.info/give. For questions regarding online receives funding giving, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. for several staff Mail — Use the contribution envelope included in this issue and make your members. Without check payable to CBF. financial gifts to Phone — Call CBF toll-free at (800) 352-8741. the Offering, much of the staff would fellowship!
Two exciting retreats. Brian McLaren
One great location.
Feb. 23-25, 2009 — Orlando, Fla. Two annual CBF events — True Survivor and Current Retreat — will be held at College Park Baptist Church in Orlando. This three-day event includes speaker Brian McLaren, noted author and pastor. Joy Yee, pastor of 19th Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco, Calif., will also provide one-on-one spiritual friendship sessions for participants. Registration cost: $90 (includes most meals). $25 for seminary students. Register online today!
True Survivor IX
Bo Prosser, CBF’s coordinator for congregational life, leads this ninth annual conference for Christian educators, featuring breakout sessions, ministry network gatherings, new resources, and discussions about best practices. For registration, lodging and schedule information, visit Bo Prosser www.thefellowship.info/truesurvivor.
Current Retreat for Young Baptists
Join with other young ministers, leaders and seminary students for fellowship, networking and worship. Be sure to ask about the discount for seminary students. Amy Butler, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., will lead in worship. For registration, lodging Amy Butler and schedule information, visit www.thefellowship.info/currentretreat.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship P.O. Box 450329 • Atlanta, Georgia 31145-0329 www.thefellowship.info (800) 352-8741
Published on Jan 1, 2009