Spring 2023 fellowship! magazine

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Food for the Table SPRING 2023 A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net CBF field personnel Rick Burnette cultivates abundance in Florida HOLY June 28-30, 2023 Hyatt Regency Atlanta General Assembly information inside!

A Holy Ambition?

Preparations are well underway for our Fellowship’s annual General Assembly to be held this year in Atlanta. You can read more about the plans for our time together in this edition of fellowship! magazine. We will share powerful experiences of worship including sermons by two incredibly gifted women, commission new field personnel, endorse new chaplains, offer opportunities for learning across a series of learning labs, have space for meals hosted by CBF partners and gatherings of our ministry networks in addition to all the informal connections that are made. Old friendships will be renewed, and new ones will be made. We will continue to see the ways God is at work, inviting us into a growing community where we can be equipped for bold faithfulness so that by sheer grace we are being transformed and joining in Christ’s transformation of the world.

For now, I want you to begin to think about the theme we have chosen for this year’s Assembly. Perhaps it has caught you by surprise. We will be seeking “holy ambition.” Many of us have grown up with mainly negative associations with the word “ambition,” and we remember that the Apostle Paul warned the Philippians to avoid “selfish ambition.” But is it possible that there are holy ambitions that are essential for participation in Jesus’ mission in our congregations and around the world? What would it mean for us, in our Fellowship, in our congregations, in our field ministries and beyond, to be claimed by a holy ambition? How would it change the way we think, feel and act?

I believe the Triune God is inherently and unmistakably ambitious. How else would you describe the divine decision to create human beings free in the image of God? How else would you portray the determination to bless the whole world through Abraham, Sarah and their descendants? Don’t we see holy ambition in Jesus’ eyes and hear it rising through his words when he preaches his first sermon at his hometown synagogue, embracing a mission of “bringing good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind and letting the

oppressed go free.” What other language could we borrow to depict the commission Jesus gave his first disciples to go into all the world to make disciples of all nations? Isn’t the mission of God to heal this broken world and gather all things in God’s love incredibly ambitious? If we are made in the image of an ambitious God, if we have been called to ministry and mission by an adventurous God, isn’t it necessary for us to be overtaken by God’s ambition?

I wonder if a holy ambition is increasingly overtaken by the ambition (the way of thinking and feeling) we see in Jesus Christ (Philippians 2). I wonder if it is not a relentless determination to seek first the reign of God and God’s righteousness (Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.)

As we gather in Atlanta for prayer, worship, study and fellowship, I am praying that the Holy Spirit will begin to overpower us with a vision of holy ambition. I am praying that we will find ourselves equipped with this kind of ambition because I believe it could change the way we view our ministries, our congregations and our calling in communities around the world. Holy ambition should rescue us from taking for granted things that should not be. It should keep us from giving up in the face of significant challenge and change. It should build an urgency for our life together and a reminder of the centrality of the lives of our congregations in the healing of our communities and the world. It should compel us to live more fully and completely into the ways God is calling us.

So as we prepare for those days together, begin to pray that God will give you a holy ambition for your life as a follower of Jesus, for the congregation to which you belong and your mission. Dare to wonder what might be different. And, as you read this edition of fellowship! magazine, look for evidence of the ways holy ambition is already being practiced in the work of CBF field personnel, in the lives of congregations and in the shared work of our Fellowship. May we more and more be claimed by holy ambition!

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.

Phone (770) 220-1600

Postmaster: Send address changes to: Fellowship! Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030

A Publication Of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Volume 33, Number 1 Spring 2023
E-Mail fellowship@cbf.net
PAUL BAXLEY is Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
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CBF field personnel Rick Burnette cultivates abundance in Florida





Miguel Estrada invites farmworkers to Christ’s banquet table








We are filled with holy ambition as we welcome this new season in 2023. Thank you for reading this Spring issue of fellowship! magazine!

In these pages, find stories from CBF field personnel who are focusing on the food insecure and most vulnerable among us here in the United States and around the world. Read the story of Rick and Ellen Burnette and their ministry alongside farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida. They are gardening and helping to address the significant challenge of food insecurity in one of our nation’s largest food deserts (pp. 14-17). Learn about the story of Maria, a migrant worker from Guatemala, and hear how Cultivate Abundance has helped her to thrive despite many hurdles (pp. 18-19). Discover how Pastor Miguel is working to fill the tables of Immokalee with culturally appropriate food for the workers (pp. 20-22).

The CBF General Assembly is only three months away! Make plans now to join us in Atlanta, June 28-30, as we gather for a time of fellowship, learning, worship and inspiration. Don’t miss out on the other opportunities mentioned in this issue, including a new Lenten edition of CBF’s popular resource, Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus; and a suite of resources for congregations to aid with ministry during this period of economic volatility. Access both at www.cbf.net/eyesofjesus and www.cbf.net/economic-volatility

We hope you are inspired and encouraged by the stories in this issue!

AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at aweaver@cbf.net

LAUREN LAMB is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at llamb@cbf.net

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Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus calls us back to the central focus of our Christian faith: the Risen and Living Jesus!

Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus invites congregations into deeper faithfulness with each other, equips congregations to offer a bold, positive witness to the risen Jesus and transforms us individually and corporately while we co-labor with God to transform the world.

Find Your
Faith. Your Friends. Your Future.
for you.
FOR LENT Lenten study plans available at www.cbf.net/eyesofjesus
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June 28-30, 2023

Hyatt Regency Atlanta, GA

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…”

Hebrews 10:24-25

This summer at the CBF General Assembly in Atlanta, you’re invited for a week of of learning, worship, inspiration and fellowship! Together, we will be equipped for bold faithfulness, be encouraged by friends and colleagues in ministry, and be challenged to come alongside God’s transforming work in the world.

Opportunities to Learn

Join fellow Cooperative Baptists in Learning Labs—three workshop-style experiences focused on 10 topical learning tracks. During Learning Labs, you will receive an introduction, deep dive into a subject, and practical takeaways for your community. Learning Lab topics are: Ministry Innovation, Global Missions, Cultivating Calling, Missions & Community, Vida Hispana (presented entirely in Spanish), Advocacy, Spiritual Care & Trauma-Sensitive Ministry, Racial Justice, Financial Wellness & Fund Development, and (Cooperative) Baptist Identity.

Deepen your learning experience through a Leadership Luncheon and Bold Faith Breakouts on Wednesday, June 28! Come together around lunch tables to consider the topic of confronting congregational anxiety; then spend two hours focused on one of three topics—experiencing Dawnings, cultivating a culture of stewardship, or engaging in courageous conversations.

2023 CBF General Assembly
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Opportunities to Fellowship

Meet Cooperative Baptists from around the world, make new friends, and engage with some of your favorite organizations as you explore The Gathering Place, market, gallery and café!

Engage with CBF partners and initiatives through meal events, including:

• Leadership Luncheon (and Bold Faith Breakouts) – Wednesday, June 28

• La Familia Anniversary Celebration Breakfast – Thursday, June 29

• Friends of Baptist News Global Breakfast – Thursday, June 29

• Dr. Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice Trailblazer Award Luncheon – Thursday, June 29

• Baptist Women in Ministry Celebration Banquet – Thursday, June 29

• CBF Encourager Church & Advocacy Breakfast – Friday, June 30

• Chaplaincy & Pastoral Counseling Luncheon – Friday, June 30

• BJC Religious Liberty Luncheon – Friday, June 30

Opportunities to Play

To kick-start the Assembly, we’ll gather Wednesday evening for a party. Come ready to move, mingle, snack and celebrate CBF! It will be fun for the whole family!

Age-appropriate Assembly programs are also available in-person for preschoolers, children and youth throughout the event! These programs include special speakers and activities, including a field trip for children and youth on Thursday, June 29.

Opportunities to Listen

Hear from incredible preachers and teachers throughout the Assembly during worship, meals and partner events, including:

Rev. Laura Ayala

Coordinator of Global Missions

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Preacher | Thursday, June 29

Rev. Dr. Latonya Agard

Pastor and Church Planter

Transformation Fellowship Christian Church CEO – BeSpeak Solutions, Inc.

Late Night Worship Preacher | Wednesday, June 28

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III

Senior Pastor

Trinity United Church of Christ

Chicago, Ill.

Dr. Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice Trailblazer

Luncheon Keynote Speaker | Thursday, June 29

Rev. Dr. Kat Kimmel

Senior Pastor

First Baptist Church

Memphis, Tenn.

Preacher | Friday, June 30

Learn more and register today at
SPRING 2023 | 7



What to do when obstacles seem to be everywhere and the activities or tasks that you thought were a given aren’t possible? It can be a frustrating and daunting time—perhaps one when you feel far from God. But one thing followers of Christ always know—God is never far away. God is always working and present even when we don’t see Him. Recently, Haiti again went through another period of civil unrest, a fuel crisis and increasing insecurity and violence. These events meant that the planned ministry had to wait. No fuel meant no travel. Insecurity and violence required people to stay home to remain safe. Most Haitians ventured out only to get the necessities of daily living, but even that

was limited. Inflation and lack of fuel meant supplies and other materials weren’t available or too expensive, especially since people couldn’t work. So how to minister during this time became a huge question for me.

My normal routine had been halted, but I knew God wasn’t stagnant.

Pastor Brutus, pastor and director of the Bourdon School, came to ask for help feeding kids on the mountain in the fourth section of Grand Goâve—a five-to-six hour walk up the mountain from our base. Due to the country-wide problems, children couldn’t start school. He knew the children were hungry and thought they could host a camp where he could feed the children that came and provide some activities that might be educational.

Our ministry had been blessed with nutritionally prepackaged meals for the school but, due to the lack of fuel, they were just sitting in storage. Here was an opportunity to fill a dire basic need during their struggle.

We had no way to deliver the food, but Pastor Brutus was able to find farmers with donkeys and horses that would come and get the food and make the trek to the community. He found parents who were willing to prepare the food while others brought water and spices for meal preparation.

The camp started with 50-60 children coming Monday through Friday for activities and a meal. It continued until school was able to officially start in November. Children were fed and the providence of God was once again visible.

Jenny Jenkins serves as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Grand Goâve, Haiti.


We may look like a two-man band. But the truth is we are not alone in this ministry among refugees from Burma. We are one of many. Throughout 16 years of ministry, we have developed a network of partners without whom our ministry would not be possible.

These partnerships take many forms, and the connection is their greatest strength. This story is just one example of many.

Aye Cho is kind-hearted, generous and bold. She has a good education and speaks English, Karen and Burmese. We have known her since she arrived in Louisville on her own in 2009. We celebrated with her when she married. When she was expecting her first child, we connected her to an “American grandmother” to walk with her through that special time.

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Parents of the students at Bourdon school prepared lunch for the children with the ingredients Jenkins’ ministry provided.

For years, she has assisted us with interpretation. We often call her at odd hours or in desperation, and she always takes the time to help someone in need. She has grown her own ministry in Louisville, assisting the Karen community. She is a leader in her church and the community at large.

When the Survivors of Torture Recovery Center couldn’t access an in-person, Karen-language interpreter for their clients, they enlisted us to help them find someone. They offered to pay for the medical interpreter training in exchange for eight hours of service. We immediately thought of Aye Cho. She was so excited to receive the training opportunity and have the chance to be of further service in the community. The center was thrilled to have access to such a conscientious interpreter.

A few months later, a family support agency providing special services to a Karen family desperately needed in-person interpretation to make their work effective. They had funds to pay for interpreters, but they couldn’t find any. The tough part was that they needed interpretation for two hours twice weekly for three months. They knew that having the same interpreter each time would be beneficial to all parties, but they didn’t expect that to be possible.

After talking with Aye Cho about the situation, she enthusiastically said she would do it. Aye Cho made herself available for the duration despite the difficult schedule and the already strenuous demands of her own family life. Her participation was crucial, and it was life-changing for the family.

Over the years, Aye Cho’s partnership in ministry has gone far beyond interpreting. She has educated us on cultural issues, sent us notes of encouragement, contributed to our funding and prayed for us. Her partnership—like the partnership of many others—has strengthened us, other people from Burma and our whole community.

Partnership is the strength of this ministry.

Annette Ellard and Steve Clark serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Louisville, Ky.


Years ago, I was looking for an English language resource to supplement my children’s education. I found InfoUSA (now known as American Spaces) at the Kosice State Scientific library. American Spaces is an extension of the U.S. Embassy into the community and has outreach in many countries. I began to visit the library and got to know the

librarian. When they decided to start a book club for people who wanted to improve their English, I joined and became the facilitator as a native speaker. That was almost 17 years ago, and I continue to facilitate the group weekly. The format has changed over the years and now we are a discussion group. Through this group, I have met many Slovak over the years and consider them my friends. Several of our members are English teachers in local Slovak schools. I’ve had the chance to visit some of their classrooms and lead lessons. The teachers don’t have good access to English language resources which can be quite expensive if they can be found. Over the last few years, Shane and I have joined with our supporters to provide these resources to English teachers. We develop a wish list along with the teachers and share it with our supporters who generously purchase the items for the local Slovak teachers. What a joy it is to be able to provide these resources to our friends and help them as they work with their students.

Dianne and Shane McNary serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Poprad, Slovakia.

Aye Cho has helped Annette and Steve with interpretation in their ministry alongside Burmese refugees in Louisville, Kentucky.
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The McNarys minister to the Roma people in Slovakia and Czechia by helping with education, healthcare employment and acceptance in the church. Above: Dianne works with students in Vazec, Slovakia.


Resourcing and networking Young Baptists for the Christian journey is at the heart of the Young Baptist ecosystem. Through experiences, internships, ministries, programs, connections and local church support, CBF is encouraging and creating an environment in which students and young adults can thrive, be energized and have opportunities to give life to the world around them as they use their gifts in service of God and others. Young Baptists matter to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and CBF is being shaped by their presence among us.

Check out CBF’s 2022 Impact Report at www.cbf.net/impact-report
Student.Church participants reconnect at Passport Camps. From left to right: Heidi Ruiz, Harrisonburg Baptist Church, Harrisonburg, Va.; Halea Pitts, Fredericksburg Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, Va.; Avery Browning, Ardmore Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C.
















“I feel like I have been transformed by a renewal of my passion for ministry work. I have been serving at my church for a while and, before this internship started, would honestly have said I felt myself falling into a rut. Getting to meet and spend time with others who have a passion for spreading the Gospel has rekindled my own passion which I hope to carry forward into the future.”

— Owen Wohler, Chandler Baptist Church, Liberty, Mo., Student.Church Participant



AWARDED IN 2021-2022

$215,000 SCHOLARSHIP SUPPORT IN 2021-2022


36 5 8 2 ASIAN STUDENTS (4%)




SPRING 2023 | 11


Outreach and Growth is a team that celebrates the interests of all new CBF partner congregations. CBF is inviting churches to form new vital, loving, just and needed church partnerships. The team encourages partnerships during times of prayerful discernment and discovery as well as striving to create relationships with existing CBF organizations to make the Fellowship home for all. The work of the Outreach and Growth team includes leadership of the Pan-African Koinonia (formerly the AfricanAmerican Network), as well as FAMILIA, CBF’s Latino Network.






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CBF’s Rubén Ortiz signs a Missional Relationship Covenant alongside Puerto Rican Baptist leaders on March 4, 2022. The agreement with Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico was signed by representatives of 114 churches, eight schools, and approximately 35,000 church members in Puerto Rico, making it the largest covenant of its kind in the history of CBF.
























SPRING 2023 | 13

Putting Food on the Table

CBF field personnel Rick Burnette cultivates abundance in Florida

Rick and Ellen Burnette founded Cultivate Abundance in 2017 to feed the stomachs, hearts and souls of farmworkers in Immokalee, Fla.
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That’s Ellen and Rick Burnette’s ministry paradox. They serve migrant farmworkers in Immokalee, Fla., where industrial farms yield 14 million pounds of fruits and vegetables per day during harvest season. But the people who pick that produce can’t afford it themselves.

Immokalee sits in a bountiful agricultural basket in southwest Florida, nestled among vast farmland despite its sandy soil. The area grows one-third of U.S. wintertime tomatoes, plus sugar cane, squash, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables. Citrus groves stretch to the horizon.

But farmworkers and their families in Immokalee don’t have access to the food they provide for the nation. They live in a “food desert,” abandoned by grocery stores.

The Burnettes have been feeding folks like Immokalee farmworkers almost all their adult lives. After college, they met through the Southern Baptist Journeymen missions program; she served in Japan, and he worked in the Philippines. They became Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel, conducting agricultural ministry in Thailand for 15 years. Later, they continued ministry to at-risk people in the States.

In 2016, Rick joined the CBF Global Missions Council. In 2017, the Burnettes launched Cultivate Abundance, a nonprofit that grows, collects and shares food in Immokalee. In 2018, Rick re-joined CBF Global Missions as the domestic disaster-response coordinator and a field personnel in Immokalee, while Ellen continued as executive director of Cultivate Abundance.

Immokalee is a neighbor to Naples, one of America’s wealthiest communities. But due to factors such as low pay and high rent, farmworkers can’t afford food. Thirty-seven percent of its 25,000 residents live below the poverty line, and thousands live so close to it they can’t tell the difference.

Immokalee’s farmworkers—mostly from Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico—receive subsistence wages. “It takes a worker picking two tons of tomatoes a day to make a living wage,” Rick noted. “That’s 4,000 pounds, the weight of a car.”

The farmworkers also pay what the Burnettes call “extortionary rates” for housing. “Rent in Immokalee is as high as in the wealthy surrounding cities of Fort Myers and Naples,” he said. “For that, you get a bed in a dilapidated trailer that houses up to 17 other people.”

In addition, food in the middle of massive farms is scarce and expensive. Grocery chains shunned Immokalee in favor of its wealthy neighbors. Most farmworkers don’t own vehicles and can’t afford transportation. And local convenience stores charge more than city groceries.

“The community that is actually putting food on America’s tables is not able to put nutritious food of cultural preference on their own tables,” Ellen lamented.

So, the Burnettes and Cultivate Abundance partner with other ministries to close the gap—a food-and-nutrition chasm—facing Immokalee’s laborers.

They collaborate with Misión Peniel, a Presbyterian Church (USA) ministry launched by Pastor Miguel Estrada, a native of Guatemala, in 2006.

Imagine going hungry in a desert while surrounded by a tropical garden.
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“We have a vision of a community where food is secure,” Rick said. “We know that by ourselves, that’s not going to happen. There are many pieces of that puzzle. It’s going to take a large, systemic fix. We’re just providing a little portion of what is required.”

“We were first exposed to the work of Misión Peniel around 2015, and it gripped us. We felt compelled to engage,” Rick reported. “Our background for decades has been addressing food insecurity, especially in Southeast Asia. Understanding that Immokalee did contain a food desert, we thought perhaps community gardening and other approaches would be warranted.”

Cultivate Abundance and Misión Peniel are a match made in heaven’s kitchen. Misión Peniel had already established contacts with regional food banks and developed the ability to procure tons of food staples for Immokalee farmworkers.

Ellen’s and Rick’s decades of cross-cultural agricultural ministry helped them recognize how food speaks to people’s hearts. They supplement food-bank staples with fruits and vegetables farmworkers love.

“We happen to live in an area that we call the tropical fringe, where we can grow a lot of crops that friends from Haiti, Mexico and Guatemala appreciate,” Rick explained. He described food not grown on mammoth industrial farms, but collard greens and turnip greens, varieties of lettuce, plus fruits such as black sapote, coconuts, mangoes, plantains “and all sorts of tropical products.”

Paying attention to and providing “culturally appropriate food” is a vital act of Christian love, Estrada stressed. A garden located behind the Misión Peniel building contributes to that appropriate produce.

So, with Estrada’s blessing and Cultivate Abundance’s emphasis on growing, collecting and sharing nourishing food, Rick set out to build a gastronomic network to fill the stomachs and warm the hearts of Immokalee farmworkers.

“There are a lot of home gardeners (including the Burnettes) who have those foods growing in their backyards and on their patios. There are institutions, even churches, growing these things in small farms,” he explained. “So, our goal was to rally these folks as allies, see what kind of food we could get, and share that at Misión Peniel on a weekly basis.”

Friday is distribution day at Misión Peniel’s food pantry. Throughout the week, Estrada and the Misión Peniel staff receive tons of food-bank staples. On Friday mornings, a small group of volunteers bag that food. In the afternoon, Ellen and more volunteers bag the produce that Rick has collected from home gardeners, a couple of small farms and churches, gathering fresh fruits and vegetables loved by Central Americans and Caribbeans in Immokalee. From mid-afternoon and into early evening, farmworkers receive at least two bags of food—one certain to be culturally appropriate—to sustain them through the following week.

Cultivate Abundance’s ongoing ministries include doorstep gardens or container gardens grown in five-gallon buckets so farmworkers in cramped living spaces can grow greens, community gardens in neighborhoods growing fruits and vegetables, and donations of produce from area gardeners at churches and institutions. Through these resources, the food bank in Immokalee is stocked each Friday. Misión Peniel serves about 250 to 500 people on distribution day.
“When you give a banquet, invite…”
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— Luke 14:12-14

But they’re sustained by far more than food. “When you are feeding culturally appropriate food, you are feeding not just stomachs, but hearts and souls, too. And that makes a huge difference,” Estrada said. “When Rick has food that people recognize—the faces, the smiles, the eyes opening—that tells you this is not just food. It’s not the greens; it’s not the fruit. It’s more than that. You create connection.”

Over the past three years, that connection with Immokalee farmworkers has endured a couple of crushing hardships, Rick acknowledged.

“When COVID hit, we knew things were going to be rough. People in Immokalee were wondering how they were going to make it,” he recalled. “But COVID interrupted the routines, so that we could ask, ‘What do we do now?’ I feel that was Spirit-led, where we came up with modest goals and were able to broaden our network.”

Broadening the network included working with a small family farm that catered to high-end restaurants, which suddenly lost its market. Cultivate Abundance received grants it used to purchase the produce—providing a struggling farm family with income and struggling farmworkers with food. Also, home gardeners with COVIDbound time on their hands produced more than they could eat, and they shared their bounty.

While Misión Peniel radically altered its Friday distribution system, it never shut down. Immokalee residents continued to receive sorely needed food, along with even-more-needed assurance of God’s love.

Later, those lessons of flexibility and resilience paid extra dividends when Category 4 Hurricane Ian lashed southwest Florida in 2022. “Ironically, COVID pushed us to know what to do when we realize we have to do more,” Rick said.

Immokalee and the large industrial farms missed the worst of Ian’s wrath. But the Burnettes have been helping small farms survive their own devastation. “We’re using whatever assistance we can to help small farms and partner gardeners recover,” he reported.

Surviving adversity has given the Burnettes perspective and filled them with gratitude for CBF and its resources.

“A Place at the Table” is not a slogan, but a literal occurrence for Cultivate Abundance, Ellen said. “For us, it is an actual table. We’re talking about food and how to enable this community to access food they normally would not have access to. This is how I express God’s love, and this is how we can love our neighbor.”

CBF’s Offering for Global Missions makes possible the Burnettes’ presence in Immokalee farmworkers’ lives, Rick added. “We are so grateful the CBF world understands the situation with farmworkers and allows us to be the representatives working through Cultivate Abundance. By supporting me as field personnel, it frees up Cultivate Abundance to actually put food on tables.”

He explained why he feels a deep commitment to Immokalee’s farmworkers: “I’m just a gardener. My family for as far back as you can go, they were digging in the dirt. I’m just grateful to be able to be in league with gardeners, whether it’s Immokalee gardeners or Naples gardeners or Atlanta gardeners. We come together, and we do what we do so others have more. That’s the abundance. That’s God’s economy.”

“Our thing is to grow, collect and share at Cultivate Abundance. Our hearts resonate with this kind of work,” Rick said. “We feel that this is how to express God’s love. Loving your neighbor. And this is how we can love our neighbor.”

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From the Garden to the Table: The Story of Maria

Maria knows,

perhaps better than most, that for things to grow, there must be patience. For things to flourish, one needs resilience and humility, a willingness both to get hands dirty and to let go.

Having moved from the mountains of Guatemala to Immokalee, Fla., 22 years ago, Maria understands the necessity of hard work in cultivating something, whether it be a verdant garden or a new life.

She is one of thousands of migrant workers in this South Florida agricultural community who, regrettably, have learned that a place at the table will most likely not be offered to them. If they want it, they must take it themselves.

Quite simply, there is no alternative.

“I made a decision to come here to help my children get ahead,” Maria said.

Her story echoes those of scores of migrant workers who traverse oceans of water or sand to secure a better life for their families. The vast majority do not cross our borders out of malignance; they do so out of desperation.

In Maria’s case, her choice was really no choice at all. She left behind her children to work in Florida because, following the death of her husband, she did what she had to do to feed them and make available for them more options than she had.

“My husband passed away and left me with three children,” she said. “I was a week away from giving birth to my youngest when he died.”

Immokalee provides the United States with the bulk of its winter tomato crop, serving as a breadbasket of sorts for the rest of the nation. It is on the backs of migrant workers like Maria that this work is accomplished. Our trip to the grocery stores is their livelihood; our convenience is their necessity.

These workers are underpaid, malnourished and, as is the case for innumerable migrants of color in this country, scorned for their presence by those reliant on their labor.

Simply put, they would not choose to endure these injustices if they had other options. They would not leave behind their families unless it were paramount.

“My daughter, the youngest, is four years old, I left her and since then I have not seen her. It is a pain to leave my young children to come and work in this place, so that they can study, so that they can have,” Maria said. “That is why I made the decision to come here.”

It is the story of many minoritized communities in the Western world: this resilience under injustice and this insistence upon dignity in a deeply indignant society. Even under oppression as heavy as the Florida heat, Maria has pressed on, building a life in a new and not always hospitable place.

She serves as a partner gardener with Cultivate Abundance and Misión Peniel, making sure, whether through gardening or grocery shopping, that the food banks stay full and her people stay healthy.

“Maria is a force of nature,” said Rick Burnette, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel, who, along with his wife, Ellen, co-founded Cultivate Abundance. “She knows everything that’s going

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on in Immokalee. If there is food that’s available somewhere, she will be able to clue people in.”

A key tenet of Cultivate Abundance’s work is providing people with culturally appropriate foods, nourishing in their nutritional and spiritual contents alike. Maria plays an indispensable role in making sure this happens.

“She will find produce of the types we’re looking for. I don’t know how she does it, but she finds it, and she brings it,” Rick said. “As a recipient, she’s also a donor.”

Over the two decades she’s lived in the United States, Maria has developed quite the green thumb, planting such Latin American staples as chipilín. It’s a staple in her native Guatemala and resembles spinach, albeit with a vastly different flavor profile.

Loaming her hands in the soil provides purpose as well as sustenance, community in addition to a crop.

“I feel part of the garden, and I feel like I am also there just to help them,” Maria said. “But to think that I am not just wasting time, no. I am learning different things, and we also teach people what is in the garden and what is done in the garden.”

No stranger to new life, Maria has also grown her family even while distant from many of its members.

Most of her children are now grown. Since arriving in the United States, however, she’s given birth to a boy named Marco who recently turned six.

Soon after his birth, he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. This added unforeseen difficulty to the already-trying task of raising a child away from one’s native land and family.

But that hasn’t stopped Maria and her son from bringing light to their community.

“Everyone loves Marco,” Rick said.

Like fertile soil, Marco has helped Maria with growing her life here, building connections in unexpected—and therefore miraculous— ways.

“Now my life is more different, because I am meeting many people through Marco and through our garden. Many people come to the garden,” she said. “But I’m glad to be there with them; I’m very satisfied.”

A place at the table was never guaranteed to Maria. Yet, with tireless faith, the presence of a Christ who was himself a refugee, and her fair share of dirt under nails, she insisted upon a place there all the same.

Of course, in God’s economy, it was her table all along.

“A place at the table means that we are all ready or prepared to have food on the table,” she said. “And for me, from the garden, it means helping them to maintain, to have the produce for the people who are in need.”

“I’m very satisfied,” Maria said about working for more than two decades in Cultivate Abundance’s garden. “As I say, God has put some good people in my life or in my path.”
Watch the Offering for Global Missions impact story video featuring Maria at www.cbf.net/ogm WATCH MARIA’S STORY SPRING 2023 | 19
Maria had to leave three children in Guatemala so she could work in Florida to provide them with food. While in Florida, she had a fourth child, Marco. Marco is six-years-old and is popular in the neighborhood.

This is sadly ironic because we literally could not, and do not, live without it.

Across the peninsula from the more cosmopolitan Atlantic coast lies Immokalee, a small farming community of about 20,000. While not nearly as well-known as Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale, Immokalee is no less important. It provides the bulk of America’s winter tomato crop, thanks to its subtropical climate and to a community overlooked as its environs—migrant workers.

“Florida is not exactly the best place to

be a farmworker or a migrant,” said Pastor Miguel Estrada, director of Misión Peniel in Immokalee.

These workers, immigrants from Latin American countries like Mexico, Haiti and Guatemala, reside in a portion of our country famed for its vacationing but steeped in disease, boasting world-renowned diversity but subject to increasingly conservative policies and outlooks toward immigrants.

“Workers just leave behind family and relatives at home,” Estrada said. “It’s a

sacrifice what they are doing for the rest of their families at home in order to survive for them over there.”

It is not vanity or flippancy which motivates people to migrate thousands of miles away from their home countries. It is a necessity sparked by political instability and fanned by the suffering of loved ones.

Regrettably, what swaths of immigrants face on this side of the border is more suffering.

Those most responsible for feeding the country struggle themselves to be fed. Immokalee sits squarely in the middle of a food desert, a region in which inhabitants face limited access to healthy and affordable food.

“At the end of the day, what they keep for themselves is hardly enough to have one

Watch the Offering for Global Missions impact story video featuring Miguel Estrada at www.cbf.net/ogm
Often,we only speak of South Florida when it relates to Miami, national elections or hurricanes. The southernmost tip of the United States sits as distant from our minds as it does most of our churches.
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One of the richest areas in the country has a food shortage for its residents. Fourteen million pounds of produce are harvested and shipped across the U.S., but the farmworkers in Immokalee remain hungry and food insecure. Pastor Miguel Estrada works together with Cultivate Abundance to create a place at the table for the workers.

meal per day. That’s hardly what happens,” Estrada said. “And then sometimes, it’s even less than that.”

Estrada and his church partner with Cultivate Abundance to address, if not end food insecurity in Immokalee.

It is not too fine a point to say that Cultivate Abundance, in tandem with Estrada, and under the leadership of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Rick Burnette and his wife, Ellen, invite scores of minoritized people to the banquet table.

South Florida provides a stark backdrop to Jesus’ mandate in Luke 14:12-14, for the poor and the rich, the outcast and the ingroup, crowded together between the two coasts, squished by bodies of water and systems of inequality.

It would be easy to invite down from their Miami high-rises the rich and famous. Instead, Cultivate Abundance sets the table for those for whom God exercises preferential concern.

Thanks to Estrada’s shared identity and cultural background, it is done in an equitable, presence-focused way.

“Miguel Estrada is an amazing man. He came from Guatemala with his family in order to do this work in Immokalee,” Rick Burnette said. “He was called to do this work in Immokalee.”

How this work transpires would likely ring familiar to most within CBF, manifesting as the well-worn system of food banks and distribution centers.

The food they share, however, is specific and unique.

“Misión Peniel has been finding food through local food banks, at least two in this area, bringing the food in each week and distributing it every Friday afternoon,” Rick said. “We have a food share time from 3:30 to 6:30 on Friday.”

Because the food banks are local, the food is culturally sensitive and appropriate, nourishing the migrant workers’ souls as well as their bodies. Far from standard U.S. American fare, the meals waft of their homes, aromatically connecting them to places they have long since vacated.

It is ministry in sensory pastoral care in texture and taste.

“When people are eating, they literally open their hearts,” Estrada said. “So when

Order materials for use with your congregation at www.cbf.net/ogmorder Leaders Guide Bulletin Insert (Domestic and International versions) Week of Prayer Bulletin Insert (Dated and undated versions) Prayers of the People Goal Tracking Poster (11 x 17) OGM Poster (18 x 24) Flash Drive (Also available in Spanish)

you feed them the culturally appropriate food, you are feeding, not just stomachs but heart and souls, too. And that makes a huge difference.”

The bread Jesus broke, the ritual he instructed us to do in his remembrance, need not be limited to one cultural expression or hegemonic liturgy. It is a eucharist communing with a universal Christ, as aptly expressed in bread as it is in tortilla, in pupusa and injera, Skittles and iced tea.

Serving familiar cuisine is but one way Estrada establishes presence and trust among the Immokalee migrant worker community. Food in and of itself does not constitute the invitation. It is the fruit of a long-term relationship.

“He is basically the pastor of Immokalee in a lot of ways. People know him, they respect him,” Ellen said. “They come to him with their problems. Every day of his life, he is living it for these people, this community and just sacrificial, loving relationship with them.”

The farmworkers in Immokalee are making $60 to $65 dollars a day. These wages in a food desert, or area dense with produce but ridden with poverty, are not enough to feed themselves and their family. Pastor Estrada works with the Burnettes to provide culturally appropriate food. “If you really want to learn about anyone’s culture, get the time and chance to sit with the other people and eat,” Estrada said. “That’s the best place.”

This is no small feat in a town saddled by a 37 percent poverty rate. It is no miniscule task in a state openly hostile to much of the diversity of which the Kingdom of God is composed.

But the Latin American people who travel internationally simply to feed their own families deserve, at the very least, not to go hungry. Those who help provide hospitality to the rest of the country are entitled to hospitality in their own neighborhood.

It is to this work Estrada and the Burnettes are called; it is to this challenge they rise. And it is to that table they extend an open, hospitable invitation.

“We feel really blessed to have the opportunity to work together with Rick and Ellen,” Estrada said. “They feel exactly our need; they understood what was needed around this community; they have been open enough to learn from the community and become part of them.”

Since this is the economy of God, what CBF and Estrada and his church reap, they sow. What they dole out, they get back.

It is, not to be glib, a harvest.

“That’s the beauty we have been learning around this place and this ministry,” Estrada said, “that the more you open space on the table, the better the blessing is.”

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100% to the Offering for Global Missions will support the presence of CBF field personnel serving in the U.S. and around the world. OF YOUR GIFT

LUKE 14:12-14

Rick Burnette FLORIDA Scarlette Jasper KENTUCKY
with CBF field personnel in welcoming everyone to the table.
Please give
at www.cbf.net/ogm

Central Texas church opens Naomi House for asylum seekers

INVITE 24 | fellowship!
The community, along with multiple churches, come together in Waco, Texas, for the blessing of the Naomi House, a mid-term length shelter for women and children seeking asylum.

So far, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the crisis at the border. But a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church in Waco, Texas, is doing what it can to help those who are in need.

Amid a pandemic, food shortages and political and ethnic persecution in Central America, the number of people attempting to enter the United States border has reached an all-time high. It has never been more difficult to enter the U.S. as an asylum seeker, and the resources are limited due to demand.

“It would be hard not to call it a humanitarian crisis at this point,” said Tiffani Harris, associate pastor at DaySpring Baptist Church.

The dire conditions in South Texas have prompted DaySpring to start a new ministry called the Naomi House. This ministry project, whose name comes from the Old Testament story of Ruth and Naomi, is designed to provide food, housing and work opportunities to those who are seeking asylum in the United States. For Harris and the DaySpring congregation, this ministry provides the same thing Naomi was able to give Ruth when she needed it most.

“Naomi allows Ruth to come with her and brings Ruth back to her own community,” Harris said. “We were drawn to that story and the idea of how we might extend hospitality in the way that Naomi did.”

While a project of this magnitude is never easy to undertake, it’s something that Harris and DaySpring have felt called to do since forming relationships with other churches already helping combat the crisis. One church, the San Antonio Mennonite Church, was receiving nearly 10,000 people a week during the summer months. It was DaySpring’s work with this congregation, as well as their partner churches on the border, that caused them to want to do more than just provide funding.

“The pastor at the Mennonite Church really challenged us to care for the asylum seeker,” Harris said. “It was our work and conversations with them that solidified our desire to help. It helped our congregation to see how another church was doing it. It demystified this type of ministry for us.”

The inaugural residents of the Naomi House are a family of five from Honduras who came to America fleeing persecution and, as Harris describes, “horrific violence.” They found their way to the Naomi House after a Spanish-speaking Baptist partner church from Brownsville found the family on the streets in need of help. CBF field personnel Elket Rodriguez, who serves communities and migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, connected the church with DaySpring.

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Volunteers wrote blessings and prayers for the asylum-seekers in Waco on the walls of the Naomi House before they were painted.

The family, according to Harris, is a perfect fit for the Naomi House ministry, and Harris and DaySpring are hopeful that their partner churches will be able to steer more people to them.

“We really rely on our partner churches that we’ve connected with through Fellowship Southwest and CBF,” Harris said. “Elket Rodriguez has done a lot to connect us with churches down there so that we can begin to do this kind of work.”

Asylum seekers in America face a different set of challenges compared to others crossing the border. Refugees are given a funding stream through the government when they come to America, albeit a small amount. Refugees may still need help from the community to put their lives together; but asylum seekers must rely on other help as they receive no government assistance. They also aren’t legally allowed to have a job for 180 days while their paperwork is processed. In that time, they must depend on the kindness of strangers to survive, which is why DaySpring has chosen women and children asylum seekers as their intended group to assist through the Naomi House.

“Asylum seekers face these obstacles even though they came here legally,” Harris noted. “That’s a real challenge to overcome, which is why they often become targets for trafficking. That’s why we wanted to open the Naomi House for them.”

The Naomi House is not a one-congregation operation. The

needs of a family that comes to the U.S. with nothing is a lot for one church to handle alone. The ministry has created a network of churches to help DaySpring in their mission. There has been an outpouring of volunteers, funding and resources from other churches in the Waco area who share DaySpring’s call to help the vulnerable people at the border.

“We hope and it is our prayer that other churches are inspired to start their own hospitality house,” Harris said.

“The idea of doing important work like this, with refugees and asylum seekers, is very compelling to people at our church,” said John Hunt, associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco. “People here have a heart to try to help vulnerable populations where we can. We may even eventually try to start our own house down the line.”

For Harris, that goal is exactly what she has in mind. As the situation at the border becomes more unstable, the amount of assistance asylum seekers need will grow. Harris hopes that with the Naomi House as a guide, churches in Texas can start a network to support asylum seekers. Harris feels that there is enthusiasm to address this need and that churches in Texas will have the ability to face it head-on.

“The long-term vision is that there will be other churches in the state that will join us in this work. We want to be a model so that other churches in Waco or beyond, can join us,” Harris said.

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Above: Women from DaySpring Baptist made blankets with prayers attached and prepared rooms for the asylum seekers. Children from Calvary Baptist Church, Waco made artwork for the home. The paintings read, “together,” “you are special,” a happy home,” and “love lives here.” Left: During communion, members from DaySpring pray with a new family as the associate pastor prays over them a blessing for healing and hope.

La comunidad, junto con varias iglesias, se reúnen en Waco, Texas, para la bendición de la Casa Naomi, un refugio de mediano plazo para mujeres y niños que buscan asilo.

Iglesia del centro de Texas abre Casa Naomi para solicitantes de asilo


Hasta ahora, hay más preguntas que respuestas cuando se trata de la crisis en la frontera. Pero una iglesia del Compañerismo Bautista Cooperativo en Waco, Texas, está haciendo lo que puede para ayudar a los necesitados.

En medio de una pandemia, escasez de alimentos y persecución política y étnica en América Central, el número de personas que intentan ingresar a la frontera de los Estados Unidos ha alcanzado un máximo histórico. Nunca ha sido más difícil ingresar a los Estados Unidos como solicitante de asilo, y los recursos son limitados debido a la demanda.

“Sería difícil no llamarlo una crisis humanitaria en este momento”, dijo Tiffani Harris, pastora asociada de la Iglesia Bautista DaySpring.

Las terribles condiciones en el sur de Texas han llevado a DaySpring a comenzar un nuevo ministerio llamado Naomi House. Este proyecto ministerial, cuyo nombre proviene de la historia del Antiguo Testamento de Rut y Noemí, está diseñado para proporcionar alimentos, vivienda y oportunidades de trabajo a aquellos que buscan asilo en los Estados Unidos. Para Harris y la congregación de DaySpring, este ministerio proporciona lo mismo que Noemí pudo darle a Rut cuando más lo necesitaba.

“Noemí permite que Rut venga con ella y trae a Rut de regreso a su propia comunidad”, dijo Harris. “Nos atrajo esa historia y la idea de cómo podríamos extender la hospitalidad de la manera en que lo hizo Noemí”.

Si bien un proyecto de esta magnitud nunca es fácil de emprender, es algo que Harris y DaySpring se han sentido llamados a hacer desde que formaron relaciones con otras iglesias que ya ayudan a combatir la crisis. Una iglesia, la Iglesia Menonita de San Antonio, recibía a casi 10,000 personas a la semana durante los meses de verano. Fue el trabajo de Dayspring con esta congregación, así como con sus iglesias asociadas en la frontera, lo que hizo que quisieran hacer algo más que proporcionar fondos.

“El pastor de la Iglesia Menonita realmente nos desafió a cuidar al solicitante de asilo”, dijo Harris. “Fue nuestro trabajo y conversaciones con ellos lo que solidificó nuestro deseo de ayudar. Ayudó a nuestra congregación a ver cómo otra iglesia lo estaba haciendo. Desmitificó este tipo de ministerio para nosotros”.

Los residentes inaugurales de la Casa Naomi son una familia de cinco personas de Honduras que llegaron a Estados Unidos huyendo de la persecución y, como describe Harris, de una “violencia horrible”. Encontraron su camino a la Casa Naomi después de que una iglesia asociada bautista de habla hispana de Brownsville encontró a la familia en las calles que necesitaba ayuda. El personal de campo de la CBF, Elket Rodríguez, que sirve a comunidades y migrantes en la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México, conectó la iglesia con DaySpring.

La familia, según Harris, encaja perfectamente con el ministerio de Naomi House, y tiene la esperanza de que sus iglesias asociadas puedan dirigir a más personas hacia ellos.

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Los voluntarios escribieron bendiciones y oraciones para los solicitantes de asilo en Waco en las paredes de la Casa Naomi antes de ser pintados.

“Realmente confiamos en nuestras iglesias asociadas con las que nos hemos conectado a través de Fellowship Southwest y CBF”, dijo Harris. “Elket Rodríguez ha hecho mucho para conectarnos con las iglesias de allá abajo para que podamos comenzar a hacer este tipo de trabajo”.

El solicitante de asilo en Estados Unidos enfrenta un conjunto diferente de desafíos en comparación con cualquier otra persona que cruce la frontera. Los refugiados reciben fondos a través del gobierno cuando vienen a Estados Unidos, aunque sea una pequeña cantidad. Los refugiados aún pueden necesitar ayuda de la comunidad para organizar sus vidas; pero los solicitantes de asilo deben depender de ayudas de otros, ya que no reciben asistencia del gobierno. Tampoco se les permite legalmente tener un trabajo durante 180 días mientras se procesan su documentación. En ese tiempo, deben depender de la bondad de gente que no conocen para sobrevivir, por lo que DaySpring ha elegido a mujeres y niños solicitantes de asilo como el grupo principal a ayudar a través de la Casa Naomi.

“Los solicitantes de asilo enfrentan estos obstáculos a pesar de que vinieron aquí legalmente”, señaló Harris. “Ese es un verdadero desafío para superar, por lo que a menudo se convierten en objetivos del tráfico. Es por eso por lo que queríamos abrir la Casa Noemí para ellos”.

La Casa Noemí no es el trabajo de una sola congregación. Las necesidades de una familia que viene a los Estados Unidos sin nada es mucho para que una iglesia las maneje sola. El ministerio ha creado una

Arriba: Las mujeres de DaySpring Baptist hicieron mantas con oraciones adjuntas y prepararon habitaciones para los solicitantes de asilo. Niños de Calvary Baptist Church, Waco hizo obras de arte para el hogar. Las pinturas decían: “juntos”, “eres especial”, un hogar feliz” y “el amor vive aquí”. Izquierda: Durante la comunión, los miembros de DaySpring oran con una nueva familia mientras el pastor asociado ora por ellos una bendición para la curación y la esperanza.

red de iglesias para ayudar a DaySpring en su misión. Ha habido una avalancha de voluntarios, fondos y recursos de otras iglesias en el área de Waco que comparten el llamado de DaySpring para ayudar a las personas vulnerables en la frontera.

“Esperamos y es nuestra oración que otras iglesias se inspiren para comenzar su propia casa de hospitalidad”, dijo Harris.

“La idea de hacer un trabajo importante como este, con refugiados y solicitantes de asilo, es muy interesante para la gente de nuestra iglesia”, dijo John Hunt, pastor asociado de la Iglesia Bautista Calvary en Waco. “La gente aquí tiene un corazón para tratar de ayudar a las poblaciones vulnerables. Incluso podríamos eventualmente tratar de comenzar nuestra propia casa en el futuro”.

Para Harris, ese objetivo es exactamente lo que tiene en mente. A medida que la situación en la frontera se vuelve más inestable, la cantidad de asistencia que necesitan los solicitantes de asilo aumentará. Harris espera que con Casa Naomi como guía, las iglesias en Texas puedan iniciar una red para apoyar a los solicitantes de asilo. Harris siente que hay entusiasmo para abordar esta necesidad y que las iglesias en Texas tendrán la capacidad de enfrentarla de frente.

“La visión a largo plazo es que habrá otras iglesias en el estado que se unirán a nosotros en este trabajo. Queremos ser un modelo para que otras iglesias en Waco o más allá puedan unirse a nosotros,” dijo Harris.

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Listening & Learning

Myfirst six months serving as CBF Coordinator of Congregational Ministries could be summarized in two words: listening and learning.

At first, much of the listening was done with my ears, through one-on-one conversations, video calls and focus groups. As opportunities to travel, gather, preach and visit began to fill up the calendar, so did my recognition that to truly appreciate the stories I was hearing, I needed to do what Malcolm Gladwell suggested in his book Blink.

So, “I began to listen with my eyes, and there is no way that your eyes don’t affect your judgment. The only true way to listen is with your ears and your heart.”

At General Assembly I listened with my ears and heart to the latenight worship with the CBF Pan African Koinonia, the commissioning of chaplains (including a service dog) and the sounds of a Fellowship singing together.

In the fall, I listened with my ears and heart to CBF Fellows, pastors and congregational leaders talk about the day-to-day joys and frustrations of ministry. I listened in hallways, sanctuaries, over tables in fellowship halls and in car rides around many of your communities. It only seems fair that I mention a few things I have heard.

3. Many of you are finding new and creative ways to respond to ministry callings in your communities by examining your capital and the very blessings of God in your midst. The Sacred Spaces resource and the work of Thriving Congregations is challenging each of us to rethink the whys and hows of our ministries. You are using your property and buildings in new ways that seemed unimaginable 20 years ago.

4. Young Baptists are finding places to serve in our Fellowship. In recent days, I listened as pastors and deacon chairs praised the contributions of young people in the life of the church, from outreach, pastor search teams and various other roles. They are bearing witness to faithful expressions of serving God. They are also being encouraged to lean into God’s calling.

5. One last word of encouragement comes from the experience of parachuting in and out of congregations and communities. Your Congregational Ministries Team has the privilege of seeing and hearing the amazing work and the people that make up the Fellowship. Your expressions of being the people of God, fighting for justice, sharing the love of Jesus in hard spaces, finding creative ways to minister to children and families during a pandemic, becoming Encourager Churches for our field personnel, and simply continuing to show up for one another, are all tremendous faithful expressions of the people of God.


The last few years for the Church in America, including many CBF churches, have been hard. But there is a resilience that has grown from these experiences. There is a sense that you, as Fellowship people, are moving forward in faith toward the vision God has given you for your communities. One pastor, lamenting the smaller numbers, leaned in to make sure I heard and felt his next words: “While we may not fill the sanctuary the way we once did, the people who are here are all in. We are and will continue to be strong, courageous and dreamers of big dreams God has provided.”

2. The growing diversity in CBF is cause for great joy and faithfulness—from the calling of our new CBF colleague, Laura Ayala, as Coordinator of Global Missions, to time spent in Puerto Rico with a group of pastoras building community as they seek to support one another and thrive in ministry.

We will continue to listen with our ears and our hearts about how we can serve your congregations and how we can partner together in the inviting, equipping and transforming work of God. We welcome invitations to join you in worship and be in your community. We welcome the chance to be present for you in minister search processes, by providing spiritual formation resources, and in discernment work as you take your next most faithful steps.

I am excited about the work ahead of us as a Fellowship and about how God is using each and every one of you. I am excited about both learning about your ministries and learning from you as you remain faithful to the holy ambition God has set before you and before CBF.

Brian Foreman serves as Coordinator of Congregational Ministries for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Connect with Brian at bforeman@cbf.net.
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New Resources from CBF

How should congregations prepare for economic volatility or recession? What ministry opportunities might emerge from these conditions, and how can churches be faithful in embracing them? Are there questions we can ask and steps we can take now that will strengthen our congregations and communities whether a recession comes or not?

CBF has produced a new series of tools and resources to encourage churches to begin prayerfully considering questions that affect both the congregations and the communities they serve. These resources will help churches to flourish regardless of economic conditions.


CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley challenges those leading congregations and ministries to adopt a mindset informed by Scripture and living faith in this time of economic volatility. He draws from Joseph’s preparation for the famine in Egypt found in Genesis 41 to hold up several important themes to encourage leaders to assess how they might lead.


Where can you begin preparing for a recession? What conversations do you need to have? What are the big questions to ask? This resource invites you to ask the right questions internally and externally to be prepared with faithful responses that will allow congregations to offer a unique and compelling witness to Christ in these days.


This guidebook is a collaborative effort between CBF and CBF Foundation to provide concrete and practical support to our churches to help in strategizing, preparing, and implementing your plan so your church can stay financially healthy and make an even bigger impact during a recession.

Explore resources at www.cbf.net/economic-volatility
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