A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship â€˘ www.cbf.net
Strange and Adventurous Work Cultivating Beloved Community, Practicing Radical Hospitality
Putting Faith to Action for Racial Justice
SUZII PAYNTER is Executive Coordinator
of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziiSYP.
September of 2017, Cooperative Baptists passionately put their faith to action in the wake of racist attacks in Charlottesville, Va. More than 730 individuals, including clergy and laity, from across the Fellowship and around the world signed the CBF letter titled “A Statement Concerning Racism in Our Nation,” condemning racism, white supremacy and bigotry. Cooperative Baptists stepped up to say that “this moment requires more from us as churches and as a nation.” With the goal of creating avenues for God’s imperfect church to move toward meaningful unity, and being inspired by the work of Dr. Emmanuel McCall in leading collaborative efforts between African-American and Anglo congregations, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has established the Dr. Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative. Dr. McCall is a trailblazer who has spent much of his life working for racial justice — as a student, denominational leader, pastor, author and scholar. He served as vice-president of the Baptist World Alliance from 2005-2010 and as CBF moderator from 2006-2007.
During the 1960s, Dr. McCall was part of a pioneering team of African-American and Anglo pastors who regularly and intentionally met in Louisville, Ky., to read, study and pray together. The intent of the group was to stave off racial tensions ignited around desegregation. Because of the forward thinking and action of these clergy, the intensification of racial conflict was limited in their community.
Each year, CBF will give special emphasis to the McCall Initiative. Churches and individuals will be asked to contribute financially and are encouraged to participate in one aspect of the initiative.
Ways you can participate include: • If your church has not completed a “Covenant of Action,” register to create one through the New Baptist Covenant website at www.newbaptistcovenant.org. Covenants of Action bring together Baptist churches from different racial and ethnic backgrounds This initiative will offer proactive racial justice and leadership to build relationships with each other and work together to create efforts designed to limit cultural clashes and violence in local positive change in their community communities by: • Organizing racial justice Peer Learning Groups that will read, study • If you have completed a “Covenant of Action” agreement with a partnering church through the New Baptist Covenant, share and pray together to reduce racial tension in local communities your story • Organizing racial justice retreats • Identify avenues to work with other clergy in the larger community • Developing a church renewal experience focused on racial justice on racial justice issues • Participating in the 2018 Angela Project • Identify ways CBF Advocacy can empower churches to further Dr. McCall was the first to cross racial barriers in Baptist racial justice efforts denominational work and education. His courage made him to become a true trailblazer. Motivated by Dr. McCall’s life In 2018, gifts to the McCall Initiative will financially support experience, the initiative will create opportunities for courageous Simmons College of Kentucky, a partner of the National Baptist African-American women and men to lead by: Convention of America International, Inc., and historically black • Raising financial resources for Black colleges, universities and college in Louisville, Ky. Gifts to the initiative will also support CBF’s seminaries with preference given to CBF state and regional rural development coalition, Together for Hope. organization partner institutions Your gifts and efforts will honor Dr. McCall and make a real • Continuing to build bridges through the CBF African American difference in advancing racial justice and nurturing African-American Network as voices of conscience to help bear greater witness to leadership in this nation. Jesus Christ and to advance racial healing and social change Give today at www.cbf.net/mccallinitiative • Recruiting African-American applicants for the CBF Fellows program
A Publication Of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Volume 28, Number 1 Spring 2018
Fellowship! is published 4 times a year in September (Fall), December (Winter), March (Spring), June (Summer) 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.
Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter Associate Coordinator of Communications & Advancement Jeff Huett Editor Aaron Weaver Graphic Designer Claire Ehlinger Associate Editor Carrie McGuffin
E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Phone (770) 220-1600 Postmaster: Send address changes to: Fellowship! Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030.
UNEXPECTED COMMUNITY Alabama church finds ‘unexpected community’ at nearby trailer park By Joshua Hearne
SOLIDARITY IN SPAIN CBF field personnel are re-thinking church in a post-Christian society By Ashleigh Bugg
STRANGE AND ADVENTUROUS WORK CBF field personnel cultivates Beloved Community in Danville, Va. By Blake Tommey
PROVIDING FIRST NESTS Bayshore Baptist partners with young adults to create their first homes By Chris Hughes
4 2018 CBF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Learn more about the June 11-15 gathering in Dallas
18 THE IMPACT OF WELCOMING: BRUCE’S STORY By Blake Tommey 20 ILLUMINATION PROJECT By Aaron Weaver and Jeff Huett
FROM THE EDITOR Cultivating beloved community is like cultivating a garden, and CBF field personnel Jessica Hearne is planting seeds of radical hospitality alongside her husband, Joshua, and their ministry through Grace & Main Fellowship in Danville, Va. On the cover of this issue of fellowship! are members of Grace & Main working in their community garden, which provides produce to local residents and supports community meals hosted by Grace & Main. Through long-term presence in Danville, the Hearnes are empowering others — bearing witness to Christ through a network of hospitality houses, weekly prayer and meal times, along with providing shelter, advocacy and support for residents. Learn more about this work on pp. 14-17, and about the impact of the work in the life of community member Bruce Hopson on pp. 18-19. Among these pages you will learn more about the 2018 General Assembly in Dallas (pp.4-5) and some of the new and exciting opportunities at Assembly focusing on the Global Church and the local church. In these pages you will find evidence of the Fellowship’s work through both. Learn about CBF field personnel Matt and Michelle Norman and their re-imagining of church in Spain on pp. 10-12. See some of the work of the local church on pp. 6-8, where First Baptist Church of Williams, Ala., has found unexpected community in a local trailer park. Read on pp. 24-26 how Bayshore Baptist Church in Tampa Bay, Fla., is providing tools to assist young people in furnishing first homes and acclimating to life on their own. The Fellowship is cultivating beloved community through radical hospitality here and around the world. How are you and your congregation cultivating beloved community? Share your story with us!
CBF Governing Board adopts Christ-centered hiring policy Opportunities to
29 AFFECT: MARCH Beloved Community
AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at email@example.com
30 AFFECT: APRIL Radical Hospitality
31 AFFECT: MAY
CARRIE MCGUFFIN is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org
e s m s b A l l y a r 2 e 0 n 18 e G June 11-15, 2018
Hyatt Regency, Dallas, Texas Register Now! www.cbf.net/assembly WORSHIP WEDNESDAY: You will be welcomed to the 2018 CBF General Assembly with music and testimonies, gathering us together from our local churches and communities to bring us into the larger Global Church.
THURSDAY: We will recognize Godâ€™s call to minister in our local communities while ministering around the world. Hear field personnel and local church pastors challenge and inspire us through their experiences of faith. FRIDAY: Celebrate the moving service of commissioning of field personnel, church starters, chaplains and pastoral counselors, and come to the table of communion as a global family. The Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School, will be the keynote speaker.
THE FELLOWSHIP AT WORK
Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C.
Morning Business Sessions
The Fellowship at Work gives glimpses into the ministry and mission work of the Fellowship. Meet the new Vestal Scholars and Fellows, applaud award recipients, hear about the work of the Governing Board, Ministries Council and Missions Council. Learn how Ministries Council grants could impact your church and so much more.
We live in an era of a Global Church, where mission is from everywhere to everyone. Join us as we celebrate the Church, both around the world and down the street, at the 2018 CBF General Assembly. Through engaging workshops, nightly worship, partner events and a specially redesigned exhibit hall with live podcasts and entertainment, you’ll deepen friendships and partnerships, locally and globally.
NEW EDUCATIONAL TRACKS W E D N E S DAY • Leadership Institute with the Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal Any who are called to preach are encouraged to attend the Leadership Institute for a presentation and dialogue with the Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School, where her emphasis is “Preaching and the Global Church.” Dr. Neal’s scholarly work examines the action of the Spirit on the performative borders of body and culture.
• Calling All Executive Pastors, Church Administrators and Finance Committee Members! CBF is hosting professionals from CapinCrouse and HighGround Advisors for a day-long series of workshops. Come network, learn about issues such as taxation and investment strategies and solutions while earning Continuing Professional Education credits.
Members of the CBF Familia — the CBF Latino Network — show their excitement for opportunities to gather at the 2017 General Assembly in Atlanta.
• Pastors Combo Attend the morning session with executive pastors and administrators for current information on taxes and finances applicable to your local church and then move to the Leadership Institute for an afternoon of homiletics.
• Reimagining Evangelism with Dr. Steven Porter What if we could replace the outdated images associated with evangelism and help our congregations make the Good News, actually good news? Join Dr. Steven Porter, CBF Coordinator of Global Missions, in this imaginative workshop on how we understand the Gospel and how every congregation can engage its neighbors in the more authentic way of Jesus.
• Pastor Search Committee Boot Camp with Craig Janney This training program is designed to equip search committees with best practices throughout the process of search and call. Using the innovative “Searching for the Called” workbook, you will learn the essential tasks of a search team, find tools to assist your work, gain perspective from ministerial candidates, and receive coaching throughout the process.
Worship during the General Assembly gathers young and old around the table of communion. Here, Trinity Cross sets the table in preparation at the 2017 Assembly.
• Workshops 2018 workshops highlight the connection between the Global Church and the local church while telling the stories of CBF. Highlights include: - #metoo: Join the Movement, Be the Change - Baptist Women in Minstry - Enviornmental Stewardship for People of Faith - CBF field personnel Jeff Lee and Sam Harrell, CBF Associate Coordinator of Global Missions - Preaching and the Power of Story - Jim Somerville, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Richmond, Va. - The Trauma of Racism: Breaking Cycles of Violence and Building Resilience LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Executive Director, BPFNA (Bautistas por la Paz)
Steven Porter, CBF Coordinator of Global Missions, will lead “Reimagining Evangelism” on Wednesday, June 13, in Dallas.
The Chestnut Grounds Trailer Park in Jacksonville, Ala., is becoming a new and ‘unexpected community’ for the members and ministers of FBC Williams, Ala.
By Joshua Hearne
the back of the Park, you’ll find Winston. He’s in his 40s and is in a powered wheelchair. He’ll be waiting. Winston’s trailer and lot don’t show much evidence, if any, of his past as the handyman of the Chestnut Grounds Trailer Park. That was before he was in the wheelchair. Winston’s trailer has been stripped of much of its interior. The insulation is long gone, along with the vinyl panels that once made up his walls. The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom have been picked over; it’s not clear if that happened last year or last decade. There’s still a refrigerator, a lamp and a single space heater, but that’s the extent of Winston’s meager furnishings.
Going to sleep and rising again in his wheelchair, Winston faces more or less the same routine each day — he mostly waits. He waits on his family, who come to visit him occasionally. He waits on neighbors to stop by to check up on him or, irregularly, to see if Winston can help them in some way. He waits on the worker who will come and take him for dialysis once every week. He waits on somebody to come talk college football with him. Winston has trouble talking and much of what he says nowadays is unintelligible, but “War Eagle” always rings out clear and true to those with a minute to hash out SEC football standings and schedules. But please don’t think this is some storytelling trick where I’m going to come around in another few lines to spring the trap on you. The last line of this story is not: “Winston is waiting on you.” Because, he isn’t. Like so many, Winston waits on the constants in his increasingly inconstant life. Winston waits on the people who are already a part of his life and beloved community. The bright future that Winston dreams of probably doesn’t include a church mission team with a pickup truck full of vinyl panels and appliances. Instead, Winston’s bright future is probably made up of the same people and things that compose his uncertain present. And the truth is: You’re not there. No, Winston isn’t waiting on us, much to our dismay.
The last line of this story is not: “Winston is waiting on you.” Because, he isn’t. Like so many, Winston waits on the constants in his increasingly inconstant life. 6 |
Chestnut Grounds Trailer Park is “right off the main road” in Jacksonville, Ala., says Chris Thomas, who has been the pastor of First Baptist Church of Williams for more than five years. Jacksonville is about halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta. “Chestnut Grounds is in a middle place between suburban and rural spaces. The first thing you notice is the gas station,” Chris explains. That gas station is about the closest thing the Park has to a grocery store, and it is a poor facsimile. The gas station may be named “Fairgarden Grocery,” but the products for sale belie the title and are exactly what you’d expect to see at any convenience store just a little way off a larger thoroughfare. Gas, cheap beer, soda and processed snacks make up the majority of its sales, with milk sold by the pint and fruit at a premium. “When you turn in,” Chris continues, “the first thing you notice is a pothole big enough for a 3-year-old to swim in.” This is a first sign of the general condition of the trailer park. Few of the residents can name who the owner is and even fewer have actually met him or her. The trailer park is generally thought to be “pretty much a place that’s been thrown away,” says Nikki Haynes, minister to children at FBC Williams and lifelong resident of Jacksonville. You can see this disregard blatantly in the regular sewage problems that plague the 67 lots of Chestnut Grounds. Toilets and bathtubs regularly back up with sewage because there is only one sewage treatment unit for the entire park and it is gravity-fed by four-inch pipes. The sewage problems lead to rotting floors in a number of the trailers, a few of which have long-term residents like Pauline. Pauline has lived in the Park for many years and is the Park’s unofficial ambassador to the outside world in general, and to the
people of FBC Williams more specifically. She has arthritis and asthma and a number of other health concerns; but she is eager to meet newcomers as they make their way through the Park for the first time. It’s not clear from the outset if this is because she is genuinely friendly and outgoing, which she is, or if it’s because she is protective of the Park and her neighbors, which she also is. People with good intentions and predators looking for easy prey look very much alike when you don’t have room to lose much more from your community. Pauline welcomed Nikki the first time she came to visit the Park. “My goal at the beginning was to change the way people, even myself, look at the Park — not as dangerous or scary, but as people and friends,” Nikki says. The impetus for Nikki’s first visit to Chestnut Grounds was a class at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, where she is studying to earn her Master of Arts in Christian Ministry while also serving on staff at FBC Williams and as a local teacher’s assistant. A lot has changed in Nikki as she has piloted this adventure in relationship-driven community building along with Chris. Hesitating to call the Park a “ministry” or a “resource,” Nikki and Chris both seem to find it odd to talk about a set goal for their presence at Chestnut Grounds. Rather, they have committed themselves to faithful, consistent presence and careful listening to the stories and leadership of the residents. Relationships are built in proximity and through vulnerability; so the posture of faithful presence for Nikki, Chris and others from FBC Williams is more about listening than talking. It’s much more about “being with” than “doing for.” It is this posture and approach that has begun to create change.
It’s much more about “being with” than “doing for.” Pauline is the unofficial ambassador for Chestnut Grounds, offering a warm and protective welcome to the community.
SPRING 2018 |
Chestnut Grounds is “right off the main road,” but is in disrepair, with no easy access to a true grocery store, pothole-laden roads and regular sewer problems.
“There are conferences you can go to that try to explain poverty, but being in relationship with others who experience it is a different thing.” “My view on poverty has changed,” Nikki notes. “There are conferences you can go to that try to explain it, but being in relationship with others who experience it is a different thing. It helps you move past blaming people who might be making bad decisions and focusing on why they have freedom to make only certain decisions.” Chris, who fell through the rotting floor in Pauline’s home one afternoon while doing some basic repairs, hastily adds to Nikki’s revelation: “We need to get past, ‘Oh, I see Jesus in them’ and just see them. They’re people and they deserve to be seen.” There is a quiet dignity in this slow, steady and loving approach to community. These quiet, unassuming visits to a place where nobody needs them are starting to make changes far more important than the improved floors and new ramps that residents have led them to undertake. As Chris puts it, “They don’t need us. We’re not called to make people need us. We’re called to treat them as our brothers and sisters — which they already are. It’s not just that we know their names, but that they know ours and feel free to call them.” Winston wasn’t waiting on Nikki or Chris and he’s not waiting on you or me either. But he is waiting on his friends and loved ones, which Nikki and Chris are becoming — perhaps have already become. Calling it a ministry might underestimate what’s happening at Chestnut Grounds. By listening and following, Nikki and Chris have become non-resident members of the trailer park. They’ve found community in an unexpected place. Perhaps it is only in unexpected places that community becomes beloved community. As Nikki so beautifully explained, “We don’t want to come take them to our church, we want to come be the Church with them.”
Nikki and Chris are like Wallace, who likewise has good intentions, if also a drinking problem. Wallace finds a way to slip a few dollars into Chris’s hand every so often to “help these folks out a bit.” They’re like George, who is perhaps everybody’s kindest friend, who pushes Winston around from trailer to trailer, will run to the store for you, and has taken up the responsibility of trash collection and disposal for the community, while also struggling mightily with his own mental illness and profound poverty. They’re like Doyle, who lives in a nearly derelict trailer by a burn pit, but who gives thanks that he’s no longer sleeping in the woods. In their own little way, they’re like Jesus, who made and makes his home with the folks and in the places that the world seems to have thrown away. Like all of us, they’re like the people they spend their time with. Like Winston, Jesus isn’t waiting on us with his hands tied. Though we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done — on earth as it is in Heaven,” Jesus wasn’t waiting for our permission. Our Lord isn’t hoping for congregations to catch up to his beautiful plan with his beautiful people, but is already busy in those unexpected places where Winston and others are waiting for those they already know. The question we’re left with is simple: What are we waiting for?
JOSHUA HEARNE is a member of, and leader with, Grace & Main Fellowship: an intentional, Christian community devoted to hospitality, shared life and resources, and grassroots in community development in Danville, Va.
CBF encourages congregations to ‘reimagine evangelism’ Does the idea of evangelism excite you or make you squirm? Does the Good News actually sound like good news anymore? In an increasingly post-Christian culture, how do we equip congregations to invite their neighbors to experience the way, the truth and the life of Jesus? Reimagining Evangelism gatherings are for people who sense the Church needs a new culture of Christian witness more than another new curriculum. You are not alone.
“We’ve had a lot of responsibility for turning the Good News of Jesus into the bad news,” said Steven Porter, Coordinator of CBF Global Missions. “Surely God has not failed to equip us to reach our neighbors. The question is if we are willing to imagine how to put our gifts into practice and create a community where our neighbors actually feel welcome, and that requires a fresh imagination.”
In retreats and conferences beginning this spring, Dr. Steven Porter, CBF Coordinator of Global Missions, will lead groups in a desperately needed reframing of the Gospel for the 21st century. Beginning with a talk titled “Reimagining the end of evangelism as we have known it,” participants are invited to a fresh reading of Scripture and ways of viewing the mission of God in their church. Ministers and lay leaders will learn how to identify and unleash the gifts the Holy Spirit has already embedded within their congregations to share the Good News with their community. CBF will be hosting Reimagining Evangelism workshops for pastors on March 20 in Waco, Texas, and March 22 in Abilene, Texas. Lay leaders and ministerial staff are also invited to a one-day Reimagining Evangelism leadership retreat on June 13 in Dallas at the CBF General Assembly.
Churches and other organizations interested in hosting Reimagining Evangelism events in their area can contact CBF at 770.220.1628 or email email@example.com.
Learn more at www.cbf.net/RE
Solidarity in Spain
Re-thinking church in a post-Christian society By Ashleigh Bugg
Spain, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Michelle and Matt Norman have learned to navigate the complex political and theological climates of a region clamoring for independence. After nearly five years, the family of four continues to learn from local and international community partners. “One of the things we love about the Spanish and Catalan people is that they really have a mindset of solidarity,” Michelle said. “They stand alongside one another. They want their community to be better. They want to stand with those in the margins.”
CBF field personnel Michelle Norman (pictured second front left) hosts a weekly Bible study for women. Each week the group gathers to learn together over hot tea, coffee and pastries.
Volunteers pray prior to annual Evangelical Olympics in Barcelona.
Spain is composed of 17 autonomous regions, and the Normans live in Sant Cugat del Vallès, a tranquil village on the outskirts of Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million. Their home is in Catalonia, a region that has been featured in international headlines for its decades-long push for independence. In this place, the Normans must understand the diverse ways that tradition, politics and language play into their interactions with local people and other immigrants. They work to balance a mix of traditions, from the immigrant churches of Latin America, Asia and Africa, to Spanish Protestant churches struggling to find their place in a post-Christian society, to secular nonprofits and individuals who are often skeptical of religious organizations. The Normans collaborate with everyone. “In churches, it can be a challenge because you have a clash of cultures,” Matt said. “Not only do you have the Spanish culture and the Catalan culture, but you have immigrant cultures. People bring with them traditions from their home countries about how services are supposed to be about theology.” Although the Normans initially thought they would be working with refugees, they found their work has become focused on helping Protestant Spanish and immigrant churches engage the local culture. They partner with four distinct churches: One is an international congregation with 40 countries represented. Another conducts its services in Catalan, a language distinct from Castilian Spanish. Michelle has begun learning Catalan, and their children, Cayden and Aaron, are fluent. But this has been another learning curve. “The Catalan church is unique in this day and age in that they speak only in Catalan, and their services are in Catalan, but churches in Spain today really only exist because of immigration,” Matt said. “The Spanish people have left the church behind. They are what you call a ‘post-Christian country’. If it weren’t for people from Latin America, Africa and Asia, the Protestant church and even the Catholic Church would be almost nonexistent.” Despite this cultural clash, progress has been made as the three distinct groups — immigrant churches, Spanish churches, and secular nonprofits and individuals — are learning to work together.
CBF field personnel Matt Norman (back center) with weekly community group of K-Fe Service team.
Michelle and Matt Norman have assisted with weekly food distribution at Iglesia Bautista de Cerdanyola since their arrival in Spain five years ago.
“We’re trying to allow people to articulate their faith in ways the culture can hear.” “The bulk of our work tends to be relationship-building and helping the minority Christian group connect with the majority who are not Christian,” Matt said. “Our largest work is helping the church reimagine what evangelism and church look like in a post-Christian culture,” Michelle added. This is done in several ways and through ministries led by the four church partners, as well as social initiatives headed by local government entities and nonprofits. “It’s done with leaders in churches and pastors. It’s done during ordinary coffees with people who want to live out their faith,” Matt said. “We’re trying to allow people to articulate their faith in ways the culture can hear.” Michelle explained that in a European context this is often done through the government or other groups. “The idea of social justice issues is not a cause that the church has often championed here,” she said. However, most churches the Normans work with have started social ministries and are working to engage the community. “What we are finding is that when churches begin to engage in different social ministries, purely for the sake of solidarity and because this is what Christ calls us to do, it creates a connection point with people outside the church who also feel passionate about these things,” Michelle said. “It’s awakening an interest among people who are not otherwise interested in the church because they think the church holds no purpose.” Matt agrees that engaging people through their context is important to help all groups move forward and form together. “We find when we engage with people in a manner where we genuinely seek to understand them, they are interested in Christianity, spirituality and exploring what faith might be,” Matt said. “They ask us questions; they want to know more. We think it’s a manner of learning how to listen and how to engage in a respectful matter that invites others into conversation.” Matt and Michelle walk alongside individuals and institutions, seeking understanding.
Michelle Norman (center) helps facilitate conversation on the theme and biblical focus of a K-Fe service.
“It’s walking alongside them saying: ‘You understand this place better than we do because you’re from here; but let’s work together to understand what church should be,’” Matt said. Spanish locals ask the Normans about their work and are often surprised by the message of Jesus Christ. “They say, ‘How come no one ever told me that Jesus called us to do these things in solidarity: to help the poor, to feed the homeless?’” Matt said. “That’s what Jesus did; he healed the sick and came alongside those who are marginalized.” “They’ve never experienced a grace-filled faith,” Michelle said. “They’ve experienced a guilt-filled expression of religion, but they’ve never experienced something that is liberating and grace-filled and intelligent.” The Normans’ partnerships have encouraged local churches to see things from a secular perspective to best serve the community. “It’s a connection point for our churches to learn from people outside the church because outside the church they often do things better than in the church [in Spain],” Michelle said. “Our churches grow and learn to be more like Christ from people who are outside the church. They see the Gospel with new eyes.” Spanish and Catalan cultures have important questions that cannot be answered with automatic responses. “This culture we find has lots of good questions about the intersections of religion and science, politics and life and suffering,” Michelle said. “Authentic, honest questions. Often the church doesn’t know, or hasn’t been able to engage with these questions.” “Or they have a list of answers ready,” Matt said. “It’s okay to not immediately jump in with answers and let people live with the doubt so faith starts to emerge. Without that moment of questioning, doubt and insecurity, what’s the need to have faith?” SPRING 2018
Michelle Norman and son, Aaron, prepare boxes of food for individuals with economic needs in Cerdanyola. The ministry provides food once a week to community residents.
The Normans try to engage people in a way that gives them the ability to seek answers with safety. They’re able to ask questions, and the Normans can point to ways they might investigate the Bible and see what they think about it for themselves. “This allows them to develop a faith, rather than learn a doctrine,” Michelle said. One of the ways the Normans have experimented with this idea is through K-Fe service. A play on words merging the words for café and the Spanish word for faith, the K-Fe service draws on Spain’s café culture to foster community and questions about theology and faith. “The idea behind K-Fe service is to do something in a way that is different than what we usually do in church,” Matt said. “We are thinking about how we engage people in topics so they begin to think about them theologically and relate them to everyday life.” The team, comprised of members of the Normans’ weekly community group, picks a theme, asks questions and then gives participants time to engage with people around them. It starts with a familiar topic and then progresses. A moderator helps make sure conversation continues. “The idea is to help people see that God is working in everyday life, that people are searching for certain things we all have in common,” Matt said. “Since Spain is such a café culture, it really fits.”
According to Michelle, Spain is a place where people regularly sit, talk and are in relationship with one another. “Where it’s counter-cultural, but where people are really interested, is the idea of learning together in conversation,” Michelle said. “Typically, in church, you don’t have time for dialogue. We are allowing people to participate in the sermon. It has been a lot of fun to see this idea grow.” The Normans are also excited about a women’s Bible study and their work mentoring young pastors and leaders. It is informative for them to learn from people who did not grow up in church. “You can’t ask ‘church’ questions. You have to think bigger and think about community. Ninety-nine percent of people don’t go to church, so you have to think about how to be the church in that kind of environment,” Matt said. “And how to engage people in a relevant way.” Despite cultural differences, the Normans and the groups they work with are learning from one another and serving the community together. “There’s a sense, even when you’re not from here that when you walk through this journey with people, people feel very close,” Michelle said. “I feel more a part of the community here because we’ve walked this way [together]. We’ve gone through the terrorist attacks in Barcelona. We’re going through this struggle to see what comes next as Catalonia goes forward. There is a sense of solidarity that we are going through this together.”
Matt Norman and daughter, Cayden, provide special music at a K-Fe service at Missió Sant Cugat. Attendees are seated around tables to facilitate discussion during this casual service.
The Norman family and friends take a selfie with Pastor Nelson (front right) of Iglesia Cristiana del Garraf.
CBF partners with Australian Baptists, global relief organizations to support humanitarian efforts to Rohingya refugees By Aaron Weaver DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has formed partnerships to assist the Rohingya people in the South Asian country of Bangladesh in response to the region’s humanitarian crisis, a situation described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” In late August 2017, violence broke out in the northern Rakhine State of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and drove more than 650,000 Rohingya people across the border into Bangladesh. The speed and scale of the influx of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group which have resided in Myanmar for centuries and are regarded as among the most persecuted peoples in the world, has resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency. The Rohingya refugees arrived with few possessions and are dependent on humanitarian assistance for food, health and nutrition and shelter. They have created makeshift settlements and spontaneous sites in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, an area prone to natural disasters and ravaged by Cyclone Mora in May 2017. The living situation remains an area of high concern with the upcoming monsoon season and high risks of flooding and landslides. The Associated Press reported in February on new mass graves in Myanmar, further confirmation of the systematic killing of the Rohingya by the country’s military in the Buddhist-majority country. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations, have noted that the abuses look like genocide, citing assaults carried out by state officials and Buddhist extremists including rape, arson, shootings, beatings and torture. These amount to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, according to the international rights organizations.
CBF is partnering with Transform Aid International (formerly Baptist World Aid Australia) to provide refugee families with emergency shelter and hygiene kits. An initial $5,000 was contributed to the first phase of this effort and an additional $5,000 will go toward the second phase of the response efforts to upgrade shelters within the refugee camps as the area prepares for monsoon season. CBF is also supporting the work of its longtime partner Conscience International. In December, CBF contributed $5,000 to help supply truckloads of rice and lentils to a Rohingya refugee camp. CBF field personnel Eddy Ruble, who serves in Malaysia, is facilitating these new partnerships as coordinator for the Fellowship’s international disaster response work in Asia. In this role, Ruble works in collaboration with regional and global partners to assist Baptists as they respond to disasters and focus on directing aid and assistance to the most neglected and marginalized communities to help them survive the immediate crisis and rebuild their lives and livelihoods for long-term recovery. “I am grateful for the partnerships CBF has with other faith-based organizations who have the working relationships in Bangladesh to be able to go in and provide life-giving assistance to Rohingya refugees,” Ruble said. “Together, we are able to tangibly provide urgent care and support to Rohingya refugees who experienced untold violence and persecution. Through the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught us to put action to our compassion, to care for the physical needs of the oppressed, and to seek justice on their behalf.” SPRING 2018
Strange and Adventurous Work CBF field personnel cultivates beloved community in Danville, Va. By Blake Tommey
Any good gardener will tell you how dedicated Grace & Main Fellowship is to cultivating beloved community in Danville, Va. — they just planted fruit trees in their garden. Whether apple, pear, peach or fig, almost all fruit trees require at least three or four years to begin producing fruit, and roughly eight years to finally yield a ripe, tender harvest fit for sultry summer cookouts or gooey holiday pies. In a culture fueled largely by gestures of instant gratification, the natural process of growing fruit trees may seem like an eternity. But that gardener will also remind you that anything worth doing is worth the wait. Besides, that’s how transformation works, said Jessica Hearne, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel and a leader of the Grace & Main intentional Christian community. “Transformation is something that happens by building relationships with people,” Hearne said. “Transformation is not efficient work. It’s not clean work. It’s not something that
happens because of a program that you implement. Developing relationships takes time; so we’ve invested ourselves indefinitely in Danville to be present, to be a stabilizing force in a place that experiences a lot of
instability. Through those relationships over time, over loving people over the course of months and years, that’s where we see our lives and the life of our community being transformed.”
Left to right: A Grace & Main community member works the soil at the community garden, which provides produce to local residents and supports community meals hosted by Grace & Main. Grace & Main Fellowship is an intentional Christian community in Danville, Va., that gathers for worship, prayer and mealtimes weekly. CBF field personnel Jessica Hearne and her husband, Joshua, are two of the founders of Grace & Main Fellowship. The Hearnes are invested in embracing and empowering the people of Danville.
Grace & Main leader Cindy Anderson (right) has embraced the intentional community’s ministry of radical hospitality.
As they invest for the long haul, Jessica and her husband, Joshua, are cultivating beloved community through Grace & Main Fellowship, an intentional Christian community in Danville, Va. Since 2012, the CBF Offering for Global Missions has supported the Hearnes alongside their team of leaders as they mobilize a faith community and a network of hospitality houses in Danville to eat, pray, provide shelter, seek justice and bear witness to Christ through the character of their lives together. As they continue to create a community of reconciliation and hospitality, Jessica said, Grace & Main Fellowship could not ask for a city more eager to love its neighbors. Hailed as the “City of Churches,” Danville features more churches per square mile than any other city in Virginia. Despite the prevalence of faith communities, however, the city also exhibits a poverty rate of
23.7 percent — more than one and a half times the national rate — as well as a population that averages more than $20,000 less than the median national income. For Cindy Anderson, a Danville resident and Grace & Main leader, the city’s resilient beauty continually comes side-by-side with considerable poverty and underdevelopment; but the radical hospitality of Grace & Main fits indispensably in the middle. “We go to the limit, you might say, to ensure that someone is taken care of,” Anderson said. “The strengths of Danville are its people, its community. There is so much they are rebuilding and the River District is something we are truly proud of. It’s a beautiful city, but a lot of people don’t have food at home. A lot of people don’t have family. They might not even have a place to stay. We don’t want to see anyone on the street. We don’t want
Danville’s resilient beauty continually comes side-by-side with considerable poverty and underdevelopment.
Danville, Va., has a poverty rate of 23.7 percent, as well as a population that averages more than $20,000 less than the median national income.
Grace & Main hosts nearly 70 community meals each year, where people from all walks of life in Danville come together to fellowship. SPRING 2018
Nearly every member of the Grace & Main Fellowship operates as part of a hospitality network throughout downtown Danville. to see anyone hungry. We do everything possible to assist people. We just have love, never-ending love for everyone because Christ loves us so much.” Anderson first met Jessica and Joshua as members of Grace & Main were passing out sandwiches in her neighborhood and inviting local residents to dinner. She says Grace & Main came into her life just when she needed it most. Anderson was not only facing immobility because of a leg injury, but was seeing a rise in drug crime at her apartment building as well. As she began attending community meals, Sunday worship and even accompanying Jessica to the grocery store to prepare for weekly dinners, she started confronting the dealers that frequented her residential complex and began partnering with law enforcement to advocate for better living conditions on behalf of her neighbors. Today, Anderson serves on the leadership team of Grace & Main both as an advocate for the intentional community and an expert in accessing social resources such as housing and bill-paying assistance. A warm bed is also never far away for those experiencing homelessness.
Bruce Hopson was a dedicated leader at Grace & Main, where he felt welcomed when he was at a low point in his life.
Nearly every member of the Grace & Main Fellowship operates as part of a hospitality network throughout downtown Danville. Mike Wilkins, a bread merchandiser and leader with Grace & Main, says he began hosting homeless neighbors after leaving work one night and encountering a young man whose in-laws had dropped him off at Wal-Mart, possessions and all, with no place to go. Since that night, Wilkins frequently hosts two or three guests on any given night at his home. At one point, Jessica Hearne says, the Grace & Main leadership team discovered that Wilkins had been offering his own bed and was sleeping on the floor of his home until his guests no longer needed housing. “That’s where the heart of Jesus is — with the forgotten people of the world,” Wilkins said. “You can give to God’s Storehouse [the local food bank] every day of the year — and I did — but until you sit down and have a meal with somebody or make it your mission in life to help the marginalized, the less fortunate, the poor, that’s a very big difference. Grace & Main is one of the only organizations whose core mission is to help the marginalized, assisting people with their rent, or to help by
buying their groceries on an ongoing basis. It doesn’t matter who you are; we’re here to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters.” Following the heart of Jesus led Wilkins to not only open his home to people experiencing homelessness but also to partner with local food vendors in distributing bread to families in need, to lead at Grace and Main’s Sunday contemplative prayer service and to spearhead the creation of a new urban garden alongside fellow leaders in 2016. Through a close partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Grace & Main acquired one-and-a-half acres of unused land — perfect for a new garden, Joshua said — and added it to their network of six garden plots throughout Danville. Four years ago, Grace & Main discovered just how holy gardening
Mike Wilkins is a bread merchandiser and leader with Grace & Main, operating a hospitality house, frequently hosting two or three guests on any given night in his home.
The mission of Grace & Main Fellowship is to provide radical hospitality to any and all residents of Danville, Va., through the sharing of food, connection through worship and prayer, offering a warm bed in a network of hospitality houses, providing produce and community garden space, and cultivating beloved community through becoming a family.
could be, Joshua said, as families and individuals began to form around the gardens, growing their own food and distributing up to 60 percent of the produce to local residents in need. Tomatoes, cucumbers, kale and other greens grew like wildfire, not only providing healthy produce for food in insecure neighborhoods, but also supporting the more than 70 community meals that Grace & Main hosts each year. Upon creating their newest plot, the Hearnes commissioned four of their leaders to receive training in permaculture, a holistic and sustainable system for giving back to the natural character of the land. With new fruit trees in place and even a chicken coop in the works, Joshua says cultivating urban gardens does more than just provide sustainable food and address hunger needs in Danville; it opens the path for each person to be radically transformed. “At its heart, radical hospitality is more than just opening up physical spaces for people — homes, churches, fellowship halls, a meal or a place to sit; it’s opening up your life to make room for other people,” Joshua said. “Maybe God is calling us into beloved community to practice radical hospitality by
our presence with each other, by loving each other so that we might form each other. And maybe the tools that God is using to form us are the people that we come into contact with day after day. When we open up our homes, we are committing ourselves not only to hospitality, but to being open toward the Spirit, recognizing that God’s Spirit knocks on our door in the guise of our brother or sister who needs a place to stop and use the bathroom, or needs a place to sit or eat or get water or a place to stay. Ultimately, hospitality is opening ourselves to other people.” As Grace & Main Fellowship awaits the bearing of fruit, both literally and in the life of their neighborhood, the CBF Offering for Global Missions continues to make beloved community possible in Danville. Through a shared dedication to sustainable, long-term presence in people’s lives, Grace & Main partners with an entire Fellowship of congregations and faith communities devoted to renewing God’s world. Ultimately, that network, that community bears witness to Christ as it joins in the strange, adventurous work of cultivating beloved community in Danville.
The Impact of Welcoming Bruce’s Story
By Blake Tommey
hen Bruce Hopson first encountered Grace & Main Fellowship, he couldn’t fathom why an upright guy like Matt Bailey would want anything to do with him. Through an initiative called Roving Feast, Bailey, a Grace & Main leader, along with his wife, Jennifer, would stop by Hopson’s place every Tuesday and Thursday to bring sack lunches and chat with him and his housemate, both of whom were heavy drinkers at the time.
Bruce attended his first Roving Feast to appease Grace & Main leader Matt Bailey, but found radical love and acceptance at the community meal.
“I kept wondering why this straight, nice guy was coming around, hanging out with two old drunks, right?” Hopson explained. Church had never proved to be a welcoming place for Hopson. Despite faithfully attending church as a child in Hillsborough, N.C., Hopson encountered only ridicule and judgment when he returned 20 years later with long hair and a drinking problem. Not long after, his wife divorced him and took their children in the process. That’s when things fell apart, Hopson said. When he landed in Danville, Hopson was homeless and hopping from bed to bed when a local woman offered him a spare room on Main Street, right along Bailey’s Roving Feast route. Hopson said he first attended Grace & Main’s community meal just to stop Bailey’s incessant invitations; but in the end, he discovered radical love and acceptance. “They sat down at the table and talked to me through the whole meal,” Hopson said. “I felt like I didn’t belong because I felt that
they were in a higher station in life, and I was in a different place; but they just made me feel welcome and invited me back. I saw the joy that was on everyone’s face when they were helping people and interacting with people. You could tell there was true love there, and not just a put-on. That really got to me, and I’ve been going ever since.” No sooner was Hopson a recipient of Grace & Main’s hospitality than he was empowered as a leader and began accompanying Matt Bailey on Roving Feast outings. His expertise in urban survival and his familiarity with North Main Street promptly earned him leadership over the entire north side Roving Feast, as Hopson connected with other residents struggling with addiction or joblessness. After securing his own home, Hopson began hosting homeless neighbors as part of the hospitality house network and, through his own ingenuity, began devising a tool library and part-time job network, which now keeps six people employed through local labor projects.
Bruce became an active member of the Grace & Main community, and became part of the hospitality house network as well as a leader for the community garden project and tool library.
Prayers of the People September 2017 August 2018 (pack of 20)
2017-18 OGM Leaders Guide
OGM Bulletin Insert (pack of 20)
OGM Goal Poster
CBF Global Missions Discovery Booklet Hopson couldn’t decide which he was more proud of — the fact that he hasn’t taken a drink in five years, the two jobs at which he works extremely hard, the house and car he was able to acquire because of those jobs, the friends he keeps employed or how well the new garden plot is coming along under his leadership. Ultimately, Hopson said those things pale in comparison to the people that God put in his life through the beloved community of Grace & Main. “We have people involved with Grace & Main from all walks of life and all communities in Danville, and it doesn’t matter where you live, how old you are, what your problems are,” Hopson said. “I never felt like I belonged anywhere else. I didn’t know where I fit in. From my experience and my addiction with alcohol, I needed somebody just to be my friend and to care. I didn’t know you could enjoy life without drinking, but when I went to Grace & Main I was surrounded by people that encouraged me, that stood by me. God had the grace to put me in the right place at the right time, with the right people to help. The biggest gift that God gave me is the people that God put in my life.”
Bruce Hopson was a faithful member of Grace & Main until he lost his battle with cancer in September 2017.
(pack of 20)
OGM Offering Envelopes (pack of 100)
OGM Flash Drive
OGM Scripture Bookmarks (pack of 30) SPRING 2018
CBF Governing Board receives Illumination Project recommendation, adopts Christ-centered hiring policy By Aaron Weaver and Jeff Huett
ECATUR, Ga. — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship employees will be Christians committed to the Great Commandment and Great Commission upholding the highest moral character and ethical standards lived out in Christ-centered relationship both inside and outside the workplace, says a new hiring policy passed by the CBF Governing Board on February 9.
In part, the Christ-centered hiring policy states that “CBF will employ only individuals who profess Jesus Christ as Lord, are committed to living out the Great Commandment and Great Commission, and who affirm the principles that have shaped our unique Baptist heritage.” Preference in hiring will be given to active members of CBF churches. CBF employees will also be committed to the denomi-network’s mission of “serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission” as well as its Trinitarian global missions distinctives of bearing witness to Jesus Christ, cultivating beloved community and seeking transformational development. The new policy was adopted as a two-part recommendation from the Illumination Project Committee, which has been working over the past 18 months to explore how Cooperative Baptists can strengthen their unity in the face of different beliefs and practices in matters of human sexuality. During the course of its work, the committee gave specific attention to CBF’s hiring policy adopted nearly 18 years ago in October 2000. That policy was passed by the CBF Coordinating Council (renamed Governing Board in 2013) on a 35-23 vote and prohibited “the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual.” The Governing Board voted to receive the committee’s report, which included an “implementation procedure,” and voted to adopt the new hiring policy. Per the CBF Constitution and Bylaws, the CBF Executive Coordinator is responsible for implementation of all policies, and in making implementation decisions, the Executive Coordinator will consider the nature of the position, its context, and will seek candidates who most fully exhibit the ideals set forth in the hiring policy. Read the report of the Illumination Project Committee — titled “Honoring Autonomy & Reflecting the Fellowship” — at www.illuminationproject.net. The comprehensive report features the committee’s findings, personas, recommendation and the biblical and theological foundations of its work and proposal. CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said the new policy sets CBF up for a bright future. “CBF is moving from a hiring policy focused exclusively on sexuality to a policy that focuses on Jesus and His work to
transform the world,” Paynter said. “We are a Fellowship, a big tent of faithful believers and autonomous, innovative churches in partnership. While we do not agree on everything, we have shown Baptists and others that we can come together in a relatively short amount of time, focus on what unites us and come out of it poised for a bright future.” To reflect the practice of most of its congregations, the procedure states “Among other qualifying factors, CBF will employ persons for leadership positions in ministry who exhibit the ideals set forth in our hiring policy, have gifts appropriate to the particular position and who practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic of celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage between a woman and a man.” For other positions on the CBF staff in Decatur, applicants will be considered who meet the qualities set forth in the new hiring policy, including Christians who identify as LGBT. The committee emphasized in its report that CBF is a mission-sending organization relying on more than 100 partners around the world, which have “decisively rejected movement toward hiring or supporting LGBT field personnel or the inclusion of LGBT persons in ordained leadership.” To reflect and respect the practices of the overwhelming number of its global partners, CBF “will send field personnel who have the gifts and life experiences required for the most faithful ministry in the particular setting, who exhibit the qualities set forth in our hiring policy and who practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic of celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage between a woman and a man,” according to the procedure. The same commitments will be followed with regard to supervisors of field personnel. The Governing Board launched the Illumination Project in June 2016 at the General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., to seek ways to model unity through cooperation in the midst of cultural change. The project was created to shed light on the qualities that have built unity in CBF and, through discernment, to design and develop models of dialogue and decision-making by which the Fellowship can grow through cooperation — now and in the future. This goal to seek intentional community in spite of differences with a commitment to Scripture has been a strong witness of CBF since its founding in 1991.
During their 18-month process, the sevenmember committee hosted more than 20 conference calls, a dozen in-person meetings and presentations in 30 cities across the United States while using a collaborative approach to confronting complex challenges called Integrative Thinking. An extensive series of in-depth interviews was conducted with approximately 30 individuals deeply engaged in CBF life resulting in the development of 11 “personas” used to help the committee fulfill its charge. A group of 50 senior pastors and CBF state/regional coordinators provided additional feedback in the final stage of the process. Illumination Project Chair Charlie Fuller said the committee sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit to strike a balance and find a new faithful way forward. Their desire for CBF to live into all three words of its name — cooperative, Baptist, fellowship — was informed by Scripture, rooted in a deep love for the local church and kept Christ at the center, “pulling us toward him and toward each other,” he said. “Over the past 18 months, the Illumination Project Committee has sought to double-down on being Baptist,” Fuller said. “Baptist bodies who are true to our rich heritage don’t dictate the beliefs of individuals and churches in a top-down fashion. Rather, Baptist organizations and networks such as ours must find their direction from listening to churches and listening to individuals in all their diversity. We believe we have done exactly that, and we believe the Holy Spirit has spoken as the Illumination Project Committee worked through our unique process of listening and reflecting the voices of the Fellowship.” CBF Moderator Shauw Chin Capps expressed gratitude for Fuller and the committee’s transparent and deliberate approach and intentional process. “What I have witnessed is a reflection of what I love about my CBF family — a desire to find unity with our diverse Fellowship and a principled path forward that leads us back to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” Capps said. “The committee has faithfully listened to the breadth of voices on matters of human sexuality, and I believe we have done our best to reflect and respect the practices
and convictions of CBF congregations and our global partners. We now have an opportunity to be a witness to the rest of the world, showing that Christ is our center and can hold us together for the sake of sharing the Gospel.”
Illumination Project Committee Members: • Paul Baxley, Senior Minister, First Baptist Church, Athens, Ga. • Shauw Chin Capps (CBF Moderator, 2017-2018), CEO, Hopeful Horizons, Beaufort, S.C. • Doug Dortch (Former CBF Moderator, 2016-2017), Senior Minister, Mountain Brook Baptist Church, Mountain Brook, Ala. • Charlie Fuller (Committee Chair), Executive Pastor, First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. • Kasey Jones (Former CBF Moderator, 2014-2015), Associate Coordinator of Strategic Operations and Outreach, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga. • Steve Wells, Pastor, South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas • Rebecca Wiggs, Attorney, Watkins & Eager, Jackson, Miss.
Read the Hiring Policy, Illumination Project Committee Report and Frequently Asked Questions at www.illuminationproject.net
21 Shauw Chin Capps
CBF launches McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative
Dr. Emmanuel McCall is pastor of First Baptist Church of East Point, Ga., and a Baptist trailblazer for racial justice.
By Jeff Huett
ouisville, Ky. — Creating ways for God’s imperfect church to move toward unity between racially diverse communities is the focus of a new initiative named to honor the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel McCall, a trailblazer who has spent much of his life working for racial justice – as a student, denominational leader, pastor, author and scholar. McCall is currently pastor of the First Baptist Church of East Point, Ga. From 1970-1996, he served as a visiting faculty member at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During this time, he developed the Black Church Studies program that was used by three Southern Baptist seminaries. He was an adjunct professor at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology from 1996 to 2016. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship launched the Dr. Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative on Feb. 12 at a press event on the campus of Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically black college in Louisville. To stave off racial tensions during the 1960s, Dr. McCall was part of a pioneering team of African-American and Anglo pastors who intentionally met regularly in Louisville to read, study and pray together. Because of the forward thinking and action of these clergy, the rise of racial conflict was limited in their community. During the launch event, McCall looked back to this collaboration he and former Crescent Hill Baptist pastor John Claypool began in the 1960s around racial justice.
“Dr. McCall has spent a lifetime inspiring action out of his own commitment to racial reconciliation.”
Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, Senior Pastor of St. Stephen Church and President of Simmons College in Louisville, Ky., speaks at the Feb. 12th event announcing the McCall Initiative. Simmons College will be an initial beneficiary of the McCall Initiative fundraising efforts.
(Left to right) Rejeana Cassady; David Cassady, President of Baptist Seminary of Kentucky; and Emily Holladay, Associate Pastor for Children and Families, Broadway Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.
Across racial lines, in the 1960s, “we formed an Interracial Baptist Pastors Conference, and we tackled the racial problem in Louisville. We didn’t want to see happen in Louisville what was happening around the South.…This conference of more than 800 of us were able to move through those years of the 60s... everything that spoke of racism we tackled and the Lord allowed us to be successful.” McCall joined CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and leaders of two African-American denominations, as well as the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church and president of Simmons College of Kentucky, to build on an existing partnership among the organizations and to launch this innovative initiative. On hand for the launch event were Dr. David Cassady, president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky; the Rev. Dr. Sam Tolbert, President of National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.; and the Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter is pleased McCall is working with CBF in such a vital endeavor. “Dr. McCall has spent a lifetime inspiring action out of his own commitment to
racial reconciliation,” Paynter said. “I’m excited to have such a great leader in Dr. McCall work alongside CBF to create opportunities for courageous African American men and women to lead.” The McCall Initiative encourages churches and individuals to contribute financially to CBF’s racial justice and leadership work and to participate in creating church-to-church “Covenant of Action” agreements through the New Baptist Covenant, identifying ways to use CBF’s Advocacy Toolkit to empower churches to further racial justice efforts, forming racial justice Peer Learning Groups and developing a church renewal experience around racial justice.
For more on the McCall Initiative, see page 2 in this issue of fellowship! To make a gift in support of the McCall Initiative, visit www.cbf.net/mccallinitiative. Pictured from left to right: Sam Tolbert, President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.; Rev. Bernard Crayton of General Association of Baptists in Kentucky; Dr. Emmanuel McCall (former CBF Moderator); Sadiqa Reynolds of Louisville Urban League; Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; Suzii Paynter, CBF Executive Coordinator; and Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, President of Simmons College and Senior Pastor of St. Stephen Church.
Providing First Nests
Bayshore Baptist provides assistance to and partners with young adults to create their first homes By Chris Hughes
or years, the Womenâ€™s Ministry of Bayshore Baptist Church in Tampa Bay, Fla., had brought donations to a group foster care home in Hillsborough County. But in 2011, a call to help a young woman caused them to expand the scope of their work to include the young adults who have aged out of foster care as well, birthing an entirely new ministry called First Nesters.
Jennifer Cox, an auxiliary member of First Nesters at Bayshore Baptist Church, sorts through donated items and furnishings to provide nesting for young people in Tampa Bay, Fla.
Tammy Snyder, associate pastor at Bayshore, was then serving as the director of the Women’s Ministry and remembers the group of women who responded to that call. The young woman in need of help had aged out of foster care and was now moving into a place of her own but had few possessions and little to help make her place a home. “These young adults leave the group home with a trash bag of all their belongings and then try to figure life out,” Snyder said. The Women’s Ministry quickly recognized the need for a comfortable living space as a critical step for success in living independently and set to work to furnish the entire apartment. They called friends and asked for donations of furniture, wall hangings, dishes, linens and more. In just a few days, they had completely transformed the apartment into a comfortable and hospitable living space. That first impromptu call for help became the pilot project for First Nesters, a nonprofit based at Bayshore Baptist Church that seeks to create homes for young adults in need. The model is much the same as that initial project: Through their network of nonprofit and government agencies, First Nesters will learn of young adults in need of help with housing. Often, the young adults coming out of foster care will secure Section 8 housing or get an apartment through government assistance. But they are not given any help on how to acclimate to living on their own, how to make the house a home or how to keep it well. That is where First Nesters comes in. They take the lead on finding out more about the new client, listening to his or her story and getting practical details like the measurements of the housing and the person’s favorite colors. They receive and refurbish used furniture and other household items at Bayshore. Then comes the “nesting” where youth and adults from the church deliver the items, set them up and decorate. “We provide everything from a kitchen teaspoon to art to linens to toilet bowl cleaner,” Snyder observed. “Everything they need to call this place a home.”
“These young adults leave the group home with a trash bag of all their belongings and then try to figure life out.” A “nesting team” gathers with a young woman after completing her apartment setup.
“33% of children had changed elementary schools five or more times, causing them to fall behind academically and fracturing friendships they have made.” “At the end of every nesting we do, we give them a ‘Tools for Life’ bucket,” Snyder added. In it is everything from a hammer to cleaning tools to anything else one might need to do minor repairs around the house. “The other thing we give them is a Bible signed by each of us with our own favorite Bible verses. Then we pray over the home with them.” The First Nesters organization was founded soon after that first nesting as its own nonprofit, though it is housed and has many overlapping connections with Bayshore. “We didn’t want to drain the missions budget, so we formed a separate nonprofit,” Snyder said. The nonprofit is led by a core group of seven women who have been instrumental in First Nesters from the beginning. “These seven women had a passion and a calling,” Snyder said. “We didn’t really have a model; it just kind of happened.” None of the staff of First Nesters receives a salary for the work they are doing. They experienced a great boost early on by receiving a $50,000 grant in 2012 from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the professional hockey team in Tampa. Every game features a “Lightning Community Hero,” which awards grants to individuals or organizations that exhibit extraordinary volunteerism and impact on the community. The program was started in 2011 by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, through the Lightning Foundation. “That’s what really made this real and got it off to a good start,” Snyder explained. For First Nesters, supporting these young adults has shed light on an issue that many in the community did not even know existed. The realities of children in foster care are stark. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, about 397,122 children are living in the foster care system without permanent families. Thirty-two percent of children who are eligible for adoption must wait at least three years before being adopted. Fifty-five percent of children who have been legally emancipated by the foster care system have had three or more placements over their childhood. Thirty-three percent of children had changed elementary schools five or more times, causing them to fall behind academically and fracturing friendships they have made. The statistics for youth who age out of foster care are even more grim. Seventy-five percent of women and 33 percent of men receive government assistance to meet their basic needs. Sixty percent of young men who have aged out and are legally emancipated have been convicted of a crime. One out of two children who age out of the system will develop a substance dependence.
397,122 children are living in the foster care system without permanent families.
“We are a welcoming community of faith and action with the understanding that the faith we preach on Sunday doesn’t really come to life until we bring it to action.” First Nesters has faced the harshness of life for these young adults firsthand. Snyder learned early on that many of the clients they help do not want single beds in their new places. “They don’t want single beds because single beds remind them of institutions,” she said. She also recalled one woman who did not want hangers for her clothes because she had lived her entire live out of a suitcase. The First Nesters assured her that her new home was going to change that. The ministry has become an intergenerational effort for Bayshore. Out of First Nesters, the church has formed the “First Nesters Auxiliary,” a group of young women who meet on Wednesdays to refurbish old furnishings and modernize them. Older members of the church who have downsized into smaller homes donate household items. Youth and younger adults help by moving the furniture. Even the children pitch in by creating canvases to be used for art pieces. “It’s a church-wide ministry that touches many different age groups and people,” Snyder noted. Senior Pastor Alex Gallimore, who has been at Bayshore since the spring of 2016, sees First Nesters as part of the church’s DNA. “The buzz phrase that we use at Bayshore is that we are a welcoming community of faith and action with the understanding that the faith we preach on Sunday doesn’t really come to life until we bring it to action,” Gallimore said. He pointed to the involvement of the church in the formation of the Tampa Bay Meals on Wheels as another mark of the church’s missional identity. For Gallimore, direct involvement in the community is pursuant to the incarnational presence of Christ in the lives of people. “From a political-social perspective, we know the rates at which we build Young children at Bayshore created art that will furnish apartments through the First Nesters.
prisons in this country; we know the kids who end up in there; and we know the higher rates of kids in foster care who end up there. We believe not only that Jesus commanded our involvement, but we also believe in the incarnation. We believe in the continual incarnation of Jesus’ presence in these messy situations,” he said. Gallimore believes that First Nesters is a great example of “the church being the church.” Gallimore recalled one day that brought out the stark contrast between word and action for him in the religious ethos of Tampa Bay. “There was a woman in the Tampa community who is an extreme pro-lifer who posted graphic pro-life images all over the community,” Gallimore said. She was standing outside of Bayshore, yelling and protesting at the church for their supposed misleading approach to Christian faith. “While she was doing that,” Gallimore continued, “there were a couple families dropping off donations of clothing for First Nesters.” “We know that these kids have a significantly higher rate of unplanned pregnancies. How much more pro-life can you get? This is one way we can be pro-life and pro-Gospel at every point of life,” he added. First Nesters recognizes that they are helping in only one small area that can improve the lives of people post-foster care and that more can be done. “We have inconsistent government agencies and ever-changing rules. Working in this environment is a huge challenge,” Snyder said. The hope is that First Nesters will lead to new and emerging partnerships to serve other areas of need. They are already in partnership with other area churches and even a Jewish Temple that knits blankets for clients to support First Nesters, but they hope other churches and organizations will get involved to assist with things like job training and life-skills mentoring to ensure long term success for the people they serve. The word is already out according to Gallimore. The Tampa Bay community knows where to go if they want to donate household items and have a positive impact on the lives of young adults in need. But he sees this as only the tip of the iceberg for alleviating the painful side effects of the foster care system. The goal is for the partnerships to grow and expand in a more comprehensive way, not only to focus on foster care but also on poverty and youth homelessness in Tampa Bay. Bayshore member Nick Dawson and youth pastor Nathan Pawelkop hang artwork in an apartment during a nesting.
ellowship ‘Ordinary people,’ extraordinary gifts
Judy and Dick Garrett are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by giving away $50,000.
Dick’s main ministry is in Mexico every other week, where he teaches a book of the Bible in different locations around the country.
Couple celebrates marriage milestone with gift to CBF Global Missions By Carrie McGuffin “Learn to give and the world opens up,” said Judy Garrett. She and her husband, Dick, are former missionaries to Mexico, and served for 19 years with the International Mission Board before finding a home with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. While the couple is financially retired now in Fort Worth, Texas, Dick pastors the small congregation of Wheatland Baptist Church and travels back to Mexico every other week for his “main ministry” — to teach a book of the Bible in different places throughout the country, continuing the mission that the Garretts began many years ago. It was also many years ago when Dick and Judy learned about CBF. “Really when it was first founded,” Dick said. “As missionaries, of course we were following the controversy. CBF hadn’t existed very long when I first heard of it from the Baptist state paper.” When the couple returned to the United States, it was clear that the natural way of being Baptist for them was to become part of the Fellowship, where they felt soul freedom and church freedom were most celebrated and supported. “When I became a pastor here, we transferred our giving to CBF,” Dick said. “We liked the philosophy and the real Baptist roots of the Fellowship. We have kind of grown with CBF.” This growth alongside CBF, Dick emphasized, has clarified his values — particularly when it comes to women in ministry. “While I supported women’s ministries, it was not a real priority,” he said. “But I’ve come to see that it’s ridiculous that, with the Commission that God has given us and the responsibility that we have, to eliminate half of the workers just because of their sex. That’s just crazy — and tragic.” “My feeling is that God delivered us when he brought us to CBF,” Judy said. “I lived in constant tension accepting a salary from a group that disagreed with me on all my basic human affirmations and all the things I saw as being important in the Bible and in life.” Their deliverance though was not one from Mexico, she added. The couple would have lived in Mexico for the rest of their lives if they could have. Their lives were formed on mission and on long-term presence in a community, which is among many reasons why they now love and support CBF Global Missions. “[CBF missions] are very inclusive,” Judy said. “And I like the idea that one member of a couple might be a [field personnel] with CBF and the other might not necessarily be. We are more open to differences. I think that’s the spirit of CBF.”
Judy (center) and Dick were missionaries in Mexico for 19 years. Pictured here are Judy and some of her seminary students in Mexico.
“We never intended — never expected — to be the kind of people who could give a noticeable amount. And we feel so blessed and are so excited to give it away.” It is this spirit of openness as well as the flexibility of CBF Global Missions that continue to inspire the Garretts. “CBF lets people discover their ministry,” Dick said. “I have realized through this that we need to minister to the whole person, and I think CBF field personnel do a very good job of that. I try to pray for the missionaries daily according to the monthly Prayer Associates.” The Garrets’ prayers extend beyond praying for CBF field personnel individually; but they pray also for CBF Global Missions as they realized that giving was lower throughout recent years. Inspired by the story of a local philanthropist, the couple realized they could help answer their own prayers through celebrating a milestone of their marriage in a unique way — by donating $50,000 for their 50th anniversary. “Actually we’ve only been married 47 years,” Dick said. “But we realized we had the money and if the Lord gave us the money at 47 years, then he wanted us to give it away at 47. That’s why last year we gave a major part of that money to CBF Global Missions.” As former missionaries and now pastoring a church, the Garretts feel like they are ordinary people, but know the power of extraordinary gifts that are the support system for successful ministries here and around the world. “While we may not always have another $50,000, we always want to support this ministry,” Dick said. “We never intended — never expected — to be the kind of people who could give a noticeable amount,” Judy said. “And we feel so blessed and are so excited to give it away.”
For more information on how your congregation’s gifts can impact CBF missions and ministries around the world, visit www.cbf.net/give or contact Martha Perusek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPRING 2018 |
Praying in the Delight of God
BO PROSSER leads the CBF Ministerial Excellence Initiative and provides coaching and consulting through CBF’s Dawnings initiative. Follow him on Twitter at @BoProsser.
By Bo Prosser One of the earliest forms of prayer is song. The Psalms are the “hymn book” of the Bible. Singing one’s prayers, I suspect, traces back to the beginning of creation. One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Lari White, recently passed away. Her rendition of “Amazing Grace” brings me to tears every time I listen. In one of her last emails, she shared about her battle with cancer and encouraged her friends to keep making music, saying “the Creator delights when we sing!” So, listen to some music as you pray these next few weeks. Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks!” Let the music of your soul speak to the Lord for a while. Settle yourself and play your favorite hymn or Christian song. I love the old hymns. “Amazing Grace” is certainly in my top 10 list.
Available now at www.cbf.net/pray
What are your favorites? Let the words and the melody of your favorite songs fill your soul and impact your mind. Hear what the Spirit is saying to you as you ponder God in your life. As you pray for yourself, also choose two or three persons in the prayer calendar at www.cbf.net/pray. Sing your favorite hymn as part of your prayer. If you play an instrument, play a hymn and pray through your playing. Or, play the music in the background and voice your prayers. Whichever way you choose, surround yourself with music as you pray and reflect on God’s blessings. Close your time of prayer and reflection singing the Doxology, thanking God for those you’ve prayed for. Fill your heart with the melody of Jesus; sing, pray, praise and see what God might do! The Creator delights when we sing!
Beloved Community At Church: Around the Table MISSIONS EDUCATION RESOURCE: The outline below is designed to foster discussion around the tables during a mid-week study, prayer or fellowship time. Consider providing copies of fellowship! for individuals who want to learn more. Photocopy permission granted.
CBF field personnel Jessica Hearne and her husband, Joshua, cultivate Beloved Community by eating, praying, providing shelter, seeking justice and bearing witness to Christ through the work of Grace & Main Fellowship.
Learn more at cbf.net/hearne
1. Prepare by reading about Jessica and fellowship meal prior to experiencing $20,000 less than the median national Joshua Hearne on pp. 14-17 of the decreased mobility? What aspects of income. Grace & Main is recognized Spring 2018 issue of fellowship! Christian life are impacted by both locally as an organization whose 2. Display pictures of vineyards, fields loss and fellowship? How do you core mission is to help those who are or gardens being cultivated. Say: think Mike would say his ability to marginalized as it hosts more than 70 Cultivating fruit trees begins with serve the homeless has changed as a community meals each year, provides planting. Jessica Hearne serves as result of Grace & Main? a network of hospitality houses CBF field personnel and helped offering shelter for the homeless, and 7. For Joshua, opening paths for begin Grace & Main Fellowship individuals to be transformed is cultivates multiple garden plots as an in Danville, Va., with her husband important and is rooted in “opening outworking of their understanding of Joshua. Their ministry is supported up your life to make room for other hospitality. by the CBF Offering for Global people.” Ask: How are people 4. Ask: How is this kind of effort at Missions. Recently, they planted the “formed” through the people they hospitality particularly radical? How first of several fruit trees as part of come into contact with day after day? is it particularly Christian? the urban garden emphasis of their 8. Most communities don’t experience 5. Say: Cindy Anderson and Mike ministry at Grace & Main. the stark economics of Danville, but Wilkins share how their involvement 3. Say: Radical hospitality is one way pockets of poverty exist everywhere. has deepened over time as they to describe the kind of intentional Ask: What conditions are present in participate in activities through Christian witness the Hearnes live out our community that would call us to Grace & Main. Both speak about in Danville, where the poverty rate be “a community of reconciliation responding to the love of Christ. is one and a half times the national and hospitality”? 6. Ask: How do you think Cindy rate, and the average income is 9. Close with prayer of thanks for would have reacted to the offer of a Grace & Main Fellowship.
Radical Hospitality In Small Groups MISSIONS EDUCATION RESOURCE: The following outline is designed for small groups or Bible studies to engage Scripture and missional action. Photocopy permission granted.
Bruce Hopson (far right) experienced Grace & Main’s radical hospitality and became a leader in their Roving Feast outings. Watch videos about Grace & Main at cbf.net/belovedcommunity
Learn more at cbf.net/hearne
1. Prepare by reading the article about Danville, Va., we encounter a where people can encounter God and Bruce Hopson on pp. 18-19 of this life-changing ministry that echoes have their lives transformed? issue of fellowship! these biblical stories of transformative 9. Pray: God of abundance, we thank 2. Say: Throughout Scripture, divine meals. You for meeting us in the most things happen around shared meals. 6. Ask: What similarities do you notice ordinary of circumstances through In fact, nearly one-third of Jesus’ between the stories of Jesus and the food and the people we share it resurrection appearances in the disciples on the Emmaus road and with. We pray that you will take our Gospels involve food! Bruce Hopson and Grace & Main’s everyday eating and drinking and 3. Invite the group to open their Bibles community meals? transform these moments into sacred to Luke 24:13-32 and ask a volunteer 7. Say: When Bruce Hopson spoke encounters. Like the disciples on the to read this passage. (You may wish about the impact that Grace & Main Emmaus Road, we ask that you open to recruit a few volunteers.) had on his life, he didn’t talk about our eyes even as we open our hands 4. Ask: According to this story, when do an impressive sanctuary, a cuttingto share your abundance with our the disciples finally recognize Jesus? edge program or transcendent music. neighbors. In the name of Christ we 5. Say: Among the many roles that Instead he referred to the true love pray. Amen. shared meals play throughout and acceptance he found around Scripture, perhaps the most something as simple as shared meals. significant is as sites of revelation, 8. Ask: Whether it is meals in our places where people meet God. In the homes or shared meals at our church, story we read about Bruce Hopson what are some ways that we might and Grace & Main Fellowship in turn our meals into sacred spaces
Unexpected Community In Worship: A Litany MISSIONS EDUCATION RESOURCE: The guide below is designed for use in a worship setting. Photocopy permission granted.
Prepare to summarize the article on pp. 14-16 about First Baptist Church of Williams, Alabama. Say: “First Baptist Church of Williams is a church not unlike our own. It is full of compassionate people who want to share the love of God with people near and far. “Down the road from their church is Chestnut Grounds, a trailer park that has been neglected by the city. People there are poor and struggle with physical and mental health problems and addiction. But FBC Williams is sharing Christ’s love in Chestnut Grounds through faithful presence, vulnerability and empathetic listening. “This story reminds me of Jesus, who made his home with the folks and in the places that the world seems to have thrown away. May God open our eyes and help us see the forgotten, the thrown away, the hurting in our own community and find ways to be the Church with them. Please join me in our litany.”
By listening and “being with” rather than “doing for,” staff and members of FBC Williams have taken a slow, steady and loving approach to building community at the Chestnut Grounds Trailer Park.
Learn more at fbcwilliams.org
Leader: When the forgotten become our neighbor, Congregation: may we help them feel seen. Leader: When our neighbor is worn out and tired, Congregation: may our presence offer comfort. Leader: When our neighbors pour out their troubles, Congregation: may we to listen with compassion. Leader: When the sick, the addicted and the poor are our neighbor, Congregation: may we embrace them with Your love. Leader: When the hungry are searching for a place at the table, Congregation: may we welcome them to ours. Leader: When the lonely are looking for a friend, Congregation: may we take their hand for the journey. Leader: God, the truth is, we all share the story. We have all felt Congregation: forgotten. Leader: Lonely. Congregation: Hungry. Leader: Sick. Congregation: Afraid. Leader: As we meet our neighbor, may we remember You and how You welcome all to the table. May we remember how You always see and always listen. May we remember how Your presence is the greatest comfort of all. Congregation: God, help us to be more like You. All: Amen.
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