A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net
Stories of Impact &
BECAUSE PRESENCE MATTERS
PAUL BAXLEY is Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Fellowship is koinonia In 2017, I sat as a participant in the General Assembly held in Atlanta, and distinctly remember watching the first video produced about the twins Jacob and Esau and the powerful ways God had worked in their lives through the ministry of Refuge and Hope, led by CBF field personnel Jade and Shelah Acker. Their testimony of fleeing South Sudan and finding a home at Refuge and Hope in Kampala, Uganda, deeply moved me. As I sat in that Assembly, I had no idea that less than two years later I would be serving as CBF’s executive coordinator. Nor could I imagine a day would come in January 2020 that my family and I would be a guest of the Ackers at Refuge and Hope. Nor could I have envisioned that, four years later, the story of Jacob and Esau would still be unfolding as a dramatic demonstration of the way God works miracles. Jacob and Esau are just one vivid demonstration that presence matters. They found a home, a deeper life with Christ, and a new sense of calling because years earlier Cooperative Baptists sent the Ackers to serve. Through the Offering for Global Missions, our Fellowship still supports the presence of the Ackers and nearly 60 other field personnel around the world. Congregations have gone above and beyond the Offering by also supporting costs associated with the Ackers’ ministry. Our Fellowship’s steadfast commitment to cultivating beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and seeking transformational development has been used by the Holy Spirit not only to change the lives of Jacob and Esau, but so many more people all over the world. If you’ve not done so already this year, I pray you will make a contribution to the Offering for Global Missions. If your church has not yet had opportunity to promote the Offering, it is not too late! This issue of fellowship! also includes excerpts from our first annual CBF Impact Report. What you see here, put next to what is available online, begins to give us some sense of the global, intergenerational, generous work of Cooperative Baptists in response to the call of the Triune God. Together, we are engaged in a mission and ministry in our communities and all around the world that is abundantly far more than anything any of us or any one congregation could have done on our own.
A Publication Of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Volume 31, Number 4 Winter 2021-2022
We are recognizing more and more that when we Cooperative Baptists speak of “fellowship,” we are not merely thinking of a denominational entity. We are thinking of a community of congregations, individuals, field personnel, theological schools, church starters, chaplains, pastoral counselors and other partners from different generations and geographies that are bound together in relationship. Fellowship is a way of being. Fellowship is koinonia, that is the life of the Triune God breaking out among us and around the world. Fellowship is a kind of life that allows us not only to persevere, but even to thrive in times that are both innovative and catastrophically exhausting. Fellowship is what we most need. It is God’s gift of sheer grace to us. Fellowship is what is being extended around the world. Fellowship is nourished by presence, by the presence of Christ among us, and by our presence with one another and the world. And yes, fellowship is what Jacob and Esau found at Refuge and Hope, and fellowship is the life we share with them, not in and of ourselves, but instead in the daring imagination of a God who still interrupts the brokenness of a world bent on destruction and offers a life of grace, healing, justice and joy. During these days of Advent and Christmas, we remember again the basis of all fellowship and the ultimate reason that presence matters. God loves the world so much that in Jesus Christ, God is with us, living with us, and offering divine fellowship to us and to everyone. We are called to join in.
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.
Download or order resources to promote the CBF Offering for Global Missions in your congregation or give today at www.cbf.net/ogm.
Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley Associate Coordinator for Identity & Communications Jeff Huett Editor Aaron Weaver Associate Editor Carrie Harris Graphic Designer Jeff Langford
E-Mail email@example.com Phone (770) 220-1600 Postmaster: Send address changes to: Fellowship! Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030.
CBF IMPACT REPORT
Celebrating CBF’s impact in a global pandemic
14 BECAUSE PRESENCE
MATTERS: THE STORY OF BRUCE By Grayson Hester
BECAUSE PRESENCE MATTERS: THE STORY OF JACOB AND ESAU By Chris Hughes
22 GETTING MORE THAN YOU GIVE
How a San Francisco church creates bigger, better community through giving By Jennifer Colosimo
26 A TRAILBLAZING
Rev. Cheryl Adamson champions equity and combats injustices in Conway, S.C.
FROM THE EDITORS During this season of holiday festivity, we invite you to join us in celebrating the impact of CBF missions and ministries around the world and the communities that have been transformed through the presence of Cooperative Baptists. In these pages, you will find the stories of Bruce (p. 14) and twin brothers Jacob and Esau (p. 29), all changed through ministries of CBF field personnel building intentional beloved community through holistic ministries. You will also learn about Racial Justice Trailblazer Cheryl Adamson, founding pastor of Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church and director of Palmetto Works Community Development Corporation (p. 26), as well as Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church, a congregation dedicated to community impact in San Francisco’s Sunset District (p. 22). Alongside these amazing ministries, you will find highlights from the first annual CBF Impact Report (p. 4), focused on CBF’s impact during the global pandemic, a period during which we have witnessed congregations and individuals responding to multiple challenges with agility, perseverance and bold faithfulness.
By Chris Hughes
THE LIFE OF A CHAPLAIN ON A FRIDAY IN AUGUST By Brent Raitz
AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org CARRIE HARRIS is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at email@example.com
2021 CBF IMPACT REPORT
As the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship concludes our 30th anniversary year of ministry, we’re releasing what promises to be an annual impact report developed for all Cooperative Baptists—the individuals and churches who sustain the work of our Fellowship with prayer, partnership and financial support. This year’s report focuses on CBF’s impact during the global pandemic, a period during which we have witnessed congregations responding to multiple challenges with agility, perseverance and bold faithfulness. We have supported seminary students at schools developing new ways of preparing women and men whom God has called to ministry. We have seen field personnel, chaplains, pastoral counselors and church starters and so many others find ways to bear witness to Christ’s love in word and deed in the midst of a world that is badly broken.
The 28 pages of this year’s report are packed with infographics highlighting the impact of our Fellowship in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling, Outreach and Growth, CBF Foundation, Young Baptists, Global Missions, Together for Hope, Advocacy, Church Benefits, Identity and Fellowship Southwest. Check out the excerpt that follows in these pages and be sure to download the full report online. Here, you’ll begin the get a sense of the scale of the impact Cooperative Baptists make together in terms of people and volunteer hours served, the scale of supplies sent and the growth of ministries like chaplaincy and pastoral counseling over
the past 20 plus years. And, importantly, you’ll hear from those whose lives have been impacted in a powerful way from these ministries. So, in the following excerpt, celebrate the power of our collaboration as we have leaned on the gifts, graces, skills and expertise of our Fellowship family. And celebrate the power of our agility, as our Fellowship responded quickly and strategically in days that have required it over and over again. These pages demonstrate all the ways we are being invited into a community in which we are equipped for bold faithfulness so that we can more fully participate in God’s transformation of the world through Jesus Christ.
View the full report at www.cbf.net/impact-report WINTER 2021-2022
CBF field personnel Matt Norman carries boxes of food at a Baptist church food bank in Cerdanyola, Spain.
GLOBAL MISSIONS SHARING GOD’S LOVE IN WORD & DEED
CBF Global Missions shares God’s message of hope and love in real ways to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in the world—people living in extreme poverty, refugee children and families fleeing violence in search of a safe haven, women who are trafficked, and families who have lost everything through a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we cultivate beloved community, bear witness to Jesus Christ and seek transformational development among people and places otherwise forgotten and forsaken. Our field personnel serve alongside congregations within three primary contexts: global poverty, global migration and the global church.
60 PERSONNEL 19 COUNTRIES FIELD
390 PARTNERS 225 LOCAL MINISTRY
TOTAL ENCOURAGER CHURCHES
28,500+ FACEMASKS DISTRIBUTED
VIRTUAL MINISTRY SESSIONS
PEOPLE SERVED IN THE PANDEMIC
1,730 MEDICAL SUPPORT 465 RENT ASSISTANCE 2,005 EMOTIONAL SUPPORT GIVEN
SERVING DURING THE PANDEMIC “During the past year, we have promoted masking, testing, isolating, quarantining, vaccination, mental health access, emotional health practices, faith and spiritual connection. The thirst for spiritual encouragement has been a major need and sigificant part of our ministry throughout this pandemic.” — Annette Ellard and Steve Clark CBF field personnel in Louisville, Kentucky
61 VOLUNTEERS 4,300+ HOURS SERVED — 2019-2021
SERVED — 2019-2021
CBF DISASTER RESPONSE
VALUE OF HOURS SERVED 2019-2021
RESPONSE BUCKETS ASSEMBLED
CBF Disaster Response equips Christians and churches to serve communities affected by disaster. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBF Domestic Disaster Response paused its recruiting of volunteer teams to assist with recovery efforts. In 2020, however, CBF Disaster Response engaged in Lake Charles, Louisiana (Hurricanes Laura and Delta) and in the western Florida Panhandle (Hurricane Sally).
Student.Go participants visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Ga., in 2019.
40 STUDENTS 4,000+ HOURS SERVED IN 2021
WORKED IN 2021
$117,000+ VALUE OF HOURS WORKED IN 2021
IMPACT SPOTLIGHT “My Student.Go experiences have really helped me to think more about what I can contribute to settings in which I find myself, as well as my abilities to work through trials.” — Jaya Nair, who served virtually in 2021 alongside CBF field personnel Mary Van Rheenan through the Dom Research Center
Members of CBF Familia and the Pan African Koinonia participate in a mission immersion experience in Havana, Cuba.
OUTREACH & GROWTH CELEBRATING NEW PARTNERS Outreach and Growth is a new team that celebrates the interests of new CBF partner congregations. CBF is inviting churches to form new, vital, loving, just and needed church partnerships. CBF’s Outreach and Growth Team encourages new church partnerships during times of prayerful discernment and discovery as well as striving to create relationships with existing CBF organizations to make the Fellowship a home for all.
FAMILIA 50 LATIN AMERICA LATINO 70
3SUPPLIES TONS SENT
CHURCH PARTNERS IN
TO CUBA FOR COVID RELIEF
CHURCHES IN THE U.S.
ECUMENICAL ALLIANCES THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS
29,200 FOOD BOXES DISTRIBUTED, WORTH
THROUGH COLLABORATION IN
PUERTO RICO BAPTIST IDENTITY
PAN AFRICAN KOINONIA
70 TRANSLATED RESOURCES
41 STUDENTS 51 CHURCHES 200+ CLERGY BLACK COLLEGE
IMPACT SPOTLIGHT “The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has been essential in equipping and coming alongside me as a minority leader in majority spaces, as both CBF and my local congregation live into being both more diverse and anti-racist as we faithfully follow Christ.” — Christopher Mack, Vox Veniae Church, Austin, Texas
CHAPLAINCY & PASTORAL COUNSELING THE IMPACT OF COMPASSIONATE PRESENCE Since 1998, CBF has endorsed nearly 1,200 chaplains and pastoral counselors to serve in specialized ministry settings. Endorsement is essential for chaplains and pastoral counselors to secure employment and is a process whereby the chaplain or pastoral counselor is vetted as being spiritually, emotionally, educationally and clinically prepared to serve in specialized ministries. CBF-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors represent our Fellowship with excellence, serving as a critical ministry of the Fellowship, embodying compassionate presence in our communities, offering God’s love and the hope of Christ as together in fellowship, we work to further God’s kingdom.
OF CBF-ENDORSED CHAPLAINS SERVE IN CONTINUING CARE, EDUCATION, INDUSTRY AND FIRST RESPONDERS
HEALTHCARE 63.1% 43.7% IN HOSPITALS
OF CBF-ENDORSED CHAPLAINS & PASTORAL COUSELORS SERVE IN HEALTHCARE SETTINGS
14.9% IN HOSPICE
OF CBF-ENDORSED CHAPLAINS SERVE IN PRISONS
ENDORSED BY CBF 8.2% OFARETHOSE PASTORAL COUNSELORS
IN VETERANS AFFAIRS
OF CBF-ENDORSED CHAPLAINS SERVE IN THE MILITARY
“As a volunteer chaplain ministering on death row in North Carolina and having friendships with men and women on ‘the row’ in Tennessee, Florida and Texas, I greatly value being endorsed by my CBF family. It means I am connected to a great cloud of witnesses who love and support me.” — Cari Rush Willis Chaplain, Raleigh, N.C.
50+ CBF CHAPLAINS AND PASTORAL COUNSELORS SERVE IN ALL 50 STATES AND 5 FOREIGN COUNTRIES
GROWTH OF CBF-ENDORSED CHAPLAINCY & PASTORAL COUNSELING 1200 1000
800 600 400 200
Bruce Hopson, a former member of Grace & Main—an intentional Christian community led by CBF field personnel Jessica Hearne and her husband, Joshua, in Danville, Va.
BECAUSE PRESENCE MATTERS
The Story of Bruce It’s difficult
to know what to make of Jesus’ words to the disciples in Matthew 28:20. He who said, “And, remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” was also he who, not too long before, had died and was buried. We could forgive the disciples a bit of incredulity at hearing these words. They were likely still grieving the shocking, brutal, cataclysmic crucifixion of their friend. Yet here he was, hands still scarred, head still pierced, reassuring the disciples that he would never leave them. This is presence. This is presence at its purest, its holiest, its most spiritual. And as supernatural as it may seem, it is not altogether foreign to some of us, even here, even now.
One such place is Grace & Main Fellowship—an intentional, Christian community in Danville, Va. When fellowship! magazine highlighted the community back in Spring 2018, it featured the testimony of one of Grace & Main’s most integral members—a man named Bruce Hopson. Bruce did not live to see his story published in words. Shortly after he was interviewed in 2017, he lost his battle with cancer. But Grace & Main and those who loved Bruce did not lose him. His presence,
the substance of spirit and the manifestation of memory remain even as his body has long since passed away. “We feel like he’s still here. The stuff he had done—he brought this community to a bigger place. We’re growing now,” said Vince, a member of Grace & Main. “I think his presence is still here even though he isn’t here. We always still think about him or ask about him. He’s still in our minds; he’s still with us.” Vince was interviewed in 2021 and featured in a “then and now” video as part of the 2021-2022 Offering for Global Missions campaign with the theme “Because Presence Matters.” Four years after Bruce’s death, his presence still permeates the walls of the community, enriching the lives of its members as surely as he had helped cultivate its garden. Indeed, the evidence of Bruce’s life and legacy can be seen in blooms unfurling
to sunny, springy life, bulbs breaking through deep dark soil, and lives slowly returning to verdant vitality. “His loss was a real blow to the community,” said Jessica Hearne, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel and a leader of Grace & Main. “He was such a great man. He helped us build our urban farm, and he established our tool library system. It was really tough when we lost him. It was a very sudden loss, as well.” This urban farm played a primary role in fellowship! magazine’s 2018 feature of Grace & Main. The author used the metaphor of fruit trees, which can take up to four years of constant care before producing any harvest, to describe the kind of commitment required
of CBF’s field personnel in establishing long-term, loving relationships. Strangely enough, it has now been four years since Blake Tommey wrote those words. And the fruits of Grace & Main’s work—and, more specifically, Bruce’s life— are only just beginning to flower. If all this seems unremarkable, that’s because it is. From a consumerist perspective, nothing about Bruce, nothing about Grace & Main, nothing about an urban farm or a tool library system evokes awe or excitement. It is doubtful they would garner Instagram likes or YouTube subscriptions. Yet, these plain, ordinary things, like the bread and wine of communion, plant us squarely in the presence of Jesus. They
“IT IS ULTIMATELY ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. AND RELATIONSHIPS CAN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT PRESENCE, WITHOUT LONG-TERM PRESENCE.”
reconnect us to the One who promised to never leave us. In short, they save lives. Bruce initially joined Grace & Main just to get someone to shut up. Matt Bailey, another one of Grace & Main’s leaders, persisted in inviting Bruce to join their community at one of their weekly meals. At the time, Bruce was experiencing homelessness, addicted to alcohol, and sleeping under a porch and out of society’s concern. But while Bruce initially sought little else than an absence of noise, he eventually found an abundance of relationship. He found friendship. He found community. He found presence. And that changed everything. This is what CBF field personnel offer to the world’s people who are on the fringes, from Danville to Uganda and everywhere between. They don’t extend anything flashy; they don’t provide anything that would likely sell for much on a store shelf. They provide consistency in a world that can be totally upended by something as small as a virus, or
By Grayson Hester
Below: Bruce works at the urban farm, where he helped develop the tool library as part of the ministry. Right: Bruce engages with friends at a Grace & Main gathering in 2017.
a town ravaged by neglect and the greedy flight of industry, or a near majority-Black city that once served as the capital of the Confederacy, still reckoning (as is the whole country) with the realities of racism left swirling in its wake. Danville needs presence as much as any place. It is like many cities whose economies once depended on manufacturing and industry. The average household earns $20,000 less than the national average. The city faces persistently high rates of poverty, meaning of course, that it grapples with the issues to which poverty inevitably gives birth—drug dependency, homelessness, desperation. While CBF may not be able to author policy or advance legislation geared toward the amelioration of these ills, what it can do is plant a tree. It can offer stability, friendship, companionship and partnership. It can voice a Christlike promise of being with Danville and people like Vince and Bruce until the end of the age, whatever that age may be—the age of coronavirus, of persistent poverty, of unfettered greed. That’s why Grace & Main, and the entire global network of CBF’s field personnel, feel a need to reassert a most basic truth—
that presence matters. There would be no “then and now” for Bruce Hopson if not for presence. There would be no urban farm and no tool library if not for the presence he was extended and then reciprocated. Following the example of Jesus, CBF Global Missions field personnel draw near to and go with those among whom they work. Doing this, they cultivate beloved community because “presence matters.” They don’t descend upon “poor” communities to paint a bench or provide a quick fix. They enter into long-term commitment, into Christlike covenant to live with those they serve, to learn from those among whom the Suffering Servant can be found. They don’t just throw money at difficult situations. They plant a tree. “It is ultimately all about relationships. And relationships can’t happen without presence, without long-term presence. Because presence matters,” said Shauw Chin Capps, CBF Foundation president and chief development officer for CBF. The presence of the poor, who, Jesus reminds us, will always be with us because they are embodied evidence of our society’s immoral priorities. It calls us to radical hospitality, to advocacy and action; in other
WATCH A VIDEO ON BRUCE’S STORY AT WWW.CBF.NET/OGM
Left: Bruce lost his battle with cancer in 2017, but lives on in the memories of those at Grace & Main and through the ministries he helped develop and believed in. Top Right: CBF field personnel Jessica Hearne shares about Bruce’s memory and legacy at Grace & Main. Bottom Right: Vince, a leader at Grace & Main, speaks about Bruce and his impact on the urban farm and community.
words, it calls us to be Christian. The presence of Christ matters because it is what sustains us and motivates us. It is that after which we model our work and from which we derive our purpose. The presence of field personnel matters because it is, for many around the world, the only evidence of grace they can find. And the presence of folks like Vince and Bruce and countless others, matters because they matter. They always have and always will—perhaps not to our systems of domination, but to God and therefore to us. It is incumbent upon us to use our time on this earth to remind ourselves and others that presence matters. It is incumbent upon us to plant a tree, to extend an invitation, to open a door, to embrace a hand, to fix a meal, to simply be with someone, until the end of the age and maybe even beyond death. For we never know what fruits our work may yield. “My hope for my future is that the urban farm thrives and that more people become interested in it, and maybe grow into other spots throughout the city,” Bruce said. “And I just hope to stay right here and be a part of everything for the rest of my life. That’s what I want. That’s what I pray for.”
NEED A NEW RESOURCE TO USE FOR YOUR WINTER GATHERING OR SMALL GROUP? CBF has new resources to use in your congregations or small groups focused on hunger ministries, immigration advocacy and discernment post-COVID.
We invite you to download these videos and the accompanying free resources/curriculum to learn more about the subject and take a deeper dive into action. Transform your communities as you learn from churches and individuals making an impact in their own.
Did you know that 35.2 million Americans were food insecure prior to the pandemic? That number now may be as high as 42 million! Watch the conversation about food insecurity and learn how CBF congregations are responding (and can respond!) to the hunger crisis. You can also download a free new resource to begin this important conversation titled “Understanding Hunger: Resources & Strategies for You and Your Church” at
Are you interested in ministry to migrants? Hear pastors affiliated with Fellowship Southwest describe their ministry efforts and what they are doing to meet the needs of desperate migrants. You will see first-hand what life is like as a migrant at the border. Learn from migrants why they left their own homes and what their journey has been like. And you will start to learn how you and your church can work to care for and protect migrants at the border and in your own communities. We have also produced a one-page resource to help you understand the history of the work at the border, ways you can support, prayer requests, and further resources for you. Download this free resource at www.cbf.net/gathering.
CONGREGATIONAL DISCERNMENT The longer the coronavirus pandemic has persisted, the more dire the predictions about the future of the local church have become. Most church leaders are unsure about what they are facing. The pandemic, however, is also helping many church leaders see just how quickly they can move from certainty to curiosity. The leaders sense that, first, things have to be different for churches going forward. Their old normal is gone and isn’t coming back. But leaders have no idea precisely what will be different, much less how or when to undertake any kind of initiative to discern what the next normal for us will be. Born out of the experience of Second Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn., What’s Normal Now? Discerning Next Steps for Your Church’s Future is a six-session resource that could guide a cohort of eight to 12 congregational leaders from your church to engage a series of questions that come as all churches try to find a way through the coronavirus pandemic: What has our church lost in the pandemic that we need to lament? What have we learned in the pandemic that we need to celebrate? In light of what we have lost and learned, how shall we live? Learn more and download the resource at www.cbf.net/whats-normal-now.
Twin brothers Jacob and Esau arrived in Kampala, Uganda, as refugees in 2014.
The Story of
By Chris Hughes
Jacob & Esau
By the time
twin brothers Jacob and Esau made it to Kampala, Uganda, the young men had already endured a lifetime’s worth of struggle. As teenagers, they fled from their native South Sudan after the country gained its independence in 2011, and internal factions began fighting over control of the government. In 2012, Jacob and Esau found themselves right in the middle of the fighting, a moment that would change their
lives forever. “They attacked us,” Jacob said of the rebel soldiers. “They started shooting the vehicles. They shot a friend, who started bleeding. I felt like we were the next to die.” Away from home and without any other options, the two boys ran, leaving their home and their family without even a chance to say goodbye. They have not seen them since. The twins got a life-saving break when they discovered a convoy sent by the Ugandan government to rescue its own people from the conflict. “We had to sneak in with their citizens,” Jacob said. The Ugandans knew that they did not belong, but covered for them until they reached the border.
“It was a desperate journey,” Jacob recalled. And it was one that would continue, even after they reached the relative safety of Uganda. They tried but were unable to track down relatives in South Sudan, and later learned that their father had been shot in the fighting between the warring factions. They never heard for sure, but presume he is dead. In 2013, the internal turmoil in South Sudan erupted into full-blown civil war. An estimated 300,000 people were killed and more than a third of the population (4 million people) were displaced, including at least WINTER 2021-2022
Above Left: Jacob and Esau provided an update on their lives, schooling and callings in a video in 2021. Above Right: Jacob and Esau found Refuge & Hope, a ministry of CBF field personnel Jade and Shelah Acker in Kampala, Uganda, after living on the streets when they arrived as refugees from South Sudan.
found good news by way of a tip from other refugees about a place called Refuge & Hope. Founded in 2004 by Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Jade and Shelah 1 million people who, like Jacob and Esau a provided them a place to live. They finished Acker, Refuge & Hope provides emergency year earlier, left the country. “senior six,” the equivalent of a high school assistance and other services to all refugees. Situated in the center of Africa, Uganda education. Ironically, the ministry was founded to rescue is a magnet for refugees, which are freely But once they graduated, they were nine child soldiers and street children from accepted from the impoverished and required to leave the school. “We ended up what is now South Sudan. war-torn countries surrounding it. Today, on the street,” Esau said. “We had nowhere With more than 50 staffers, Refuge & almost 1.5 million refugees live in Uganda, to sleep.” Hope has grown to offer a holistic ministry to making it the top refugee-hosting country Street life is rough, especially for refugees needing help finding jobs, housing on the continent and one of the top five untrained immigrants. Over one-third of and social services. The center sponsors refugee-hosting countries in the world. young adults in Kampala are unemployed, young children in local schools and offers Unlike many other countries that host and the streets are filled with desperate GED certification to older ones. It also offers refugees, refugees in Uganda are free to people. “They come and beat you and steal a broad curriculum that teaches adults leave camps and settle elsewhere. Many head your property, just the little you have,” Esau English, employable skills, entrepreneurship, to the country’s capital, Kampala, a city with a said. business finance, practical life skills and population of about 1.6 million. The twins sought refuge in the many more. Approximately 1,000 students enroll Jacob and Esau headed to Kampala in 24-hour nightclubs in Kampala, which at each year in classes at Refuge & Hope. hopes of improving their situation. But their least provided a little respite from the harsh At Refuge & Hope, Jacob and Esau hopes were tenuous at best as they found realities just outside the club doors. “We found a new calling as the center expanded opportunity but also more difficulties. Like would just go there and spend the night its ministry to refugee children and youth. refugees worldwide, they had big dreams, to be safe,” Esau explained. “It was just to “Instead of just loitering around the street and were even lucky enough to get a sponsor survive, to not be arrested, to not be attacked being idle, I thought, ‘Why don’t I come and to pay for their schooling in South Sudan by robbers at night.” volunteer?’” Esau said. and again in Uganda. The school also But the streets were also where the twins Eventually, Jacob and Esau started volunteering every day with the youth
department. They especially like to help the younger refugees. They were particularly struck by the way the youth, many of whom were from ethnic groups that were at war with one another in their home countries, came together as friends at Refuge & Hope. “We have different people from different countries—Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo,” Esau said. “You find a Muslim learning the Bible. You find a Christian who wants to know about Islam. They create harmony in that place. They end up calling each other brother and sister.” Through Refuge & Hope, the brothers began mentoring young people in the many ministries of its youth department, including a children’s camp, a talent show, music, cultural dances and Bible studies. One of the most transformative projects offered at Refuge & Hope is its annual peace conference, where youth from many ethnic groups and nations spend several days in a retreat, learning about tolerance, reconciliation and peacemaking. After a long and difficult sojourn, Jacob and Esau found something else they longed for—a home, in more ways than one. Shelah Acker soon learned that the twins were sleeping in the on-site youth office, rather than risking their nights out on the streets. She got to work, finding a place for them to call their own. “I know it might not be a pretty place, but at least we have somewhere to put our heads,” Jacob said. “This place just feels like more than a home to me,” Esau said of Refuge & Hope. “Shelah is just like a mother to me, and Jade like a dad.” Now, after enduring so much hardship— from South Sudan to Uganda, from war to peace, and from migrants to a home—the twins are brimming with hope about their futures. “Four years ago, I think I was that little boy with shattered dreams,” Esau
Refuge & Hope is a holistic ministry for refugees in Kampala, offering job training, housing, social services and community for refugees of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.
reflected. “When I look at that and compare it to my situation right now, I think all of my dreams are being brought up to reality.” “When I look at Jacob right now, he had the dream of being a doctor. He is pursuing that dream, and indeed it’s happening,” Esau declared proudly. Esau is also pursuing his own dream of working in international relations and diplomacy. “One of my goals is really to reach refugees,” Esau said. “I’ve been in a conflict zone. I’ve learned a lot about conflict resolution—how to resolve it and how to handle it amidst any situation. And those skills have been so helpful to me that I was able to train other youth in conflict resolution.” The brothers take every chance they can to support the ministry that saved them and help the refugees traveling the same road that they were once on themselves. With the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic enveloping the globe, Jacob and Esau used their gifts to help protect the community. “We gave back to the community when the virus first hit the country,” Jacob said. “We did our best to
educate our fellow refugees to hand-wash and keep safe.” In an effort to raise money and awareness for refugees, Esau participated in a bicycle fundraiser, called Ride for Hope. The ride is a two-day, 100-kilometer ride. “We wanted to involve the new youth at Refuge & Hope, to inspire them, to share with them our stories, and to make them see the platforms they can have,” Esau said. Though their journey is one marked by struggle, it has included many blessings—the kindness of a Ugandan migrant convoy, the chance tip that led them to Refuge & Hope in the first place, and the faithful presence of Jade and Shelah Acker. Without them, it would be difficult to imagine Jacob’s and Esau’s dreams becoming a reality. “It has been a journey of miracles,” Esau shared. “I believe that God is shaping us to be what he wanted us to be,” added Jacob. “I just know God placed people in my life. And these people have given me glimpses of the Savior, they have introduced me to Jesus, bit-by-bit.”
WE INVITE YOU
to watch videos about Jacob’s and Esau’s journey as well as CBF field personnel ministering in the context of global migration at www.cbf.net/ogm.
Getting More than you Give
20-plus months have seen a lot— much more than a quick list could cover. But one thing we can celebrate amidst the chaos is how many people were able to push through hardships, confusion and logistical nightmares to some sort of silver lining. That includes Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church, a small CBF church in San Francisco’s Sunset District that does big things for its community (and neighbors beyond) with very few resources. So much so, that this year, the congregation was recognized with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s prestigious Missions Excellence Award. Nominated by their Encourager Church partners, Lita and Rick Sample, Nineteenth Avenue is a congregation that truly reflects the diversity and transience of a city with a big heart. “Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church has always been the flagship CBF church on the west coast,” Lita Sample said. “Even before the advent of the Encourager Church program, Nineteenth Avenue modeled exemplary mission engagement, missions support and mission encouragement.” The Samples should know. As CBF field personnel in San Francisco for nearly two decades, they can attest to the immediate
benefit that comes from connecting with Senior Pastor Joy Yee and Nineteenth Avenue. Since then, they’ve partnered with Nineteenth Avenue on many volunteer mission opportunities working with the international community they serve, including their engagement in missions once COVID-19 revealed its repercussions. The church provided more than $2,000 in food and groceries for the Samples’ COVID-19 food distribution ministry among refugees who lost jobs during the pandemic. They often work with one of the groups the Samples serve—Karen refugee families—and have cultivated beloved community with the Bay Area Karen Baptist Church in Oakland (also a CBF congregation). Their biggest project together includes coordinating volunteer efforts for a spring-cleaning event, facilitating purposeful donations of essential household items, clothing and food for the dozens of Karen refugees there. How, though, has all this happened?
How a San Francisco church creates bigger, better community through giving
By Jennifer Colosimo
Nineteenth Avenue is a relatively small congregation with limited resources even before the pandemic ever put restraints on its potential. As the Samples said, “Its heart for missions and its skill at turning compassion into action makes this CBF congregation loom large in mission excellence among churches in CBF’s western region.” “To be honest, I’m not sure we’re different from any other church. I don’t have a secret formula to share,” said Pastor Joy Yee. “But, what I love about our church is that the people have open hearts and, when they see a need, they look at how they can fill that need. They’re very responsive like that, so it was very easy to get a lot of these things going during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church is a small church that does big things for its community in San Francisco’s Sunset District, coordinating volunteer efforts alongside CBF field personnel Lita and Rick Sample and the Bay Area Karen Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif.
Yee also tips her hat to the DNA of the city itself, saying that San Francisco, where she was born and raised, is a generous city when it comes to meeting needs of people around them. They err on the side of care for the other. “Of course, it takes people who are loving, willing and able,” she said. “But it also has to do with people’s love for God, God’s love for them, and the desire to share that love with others.” That’s part of Yee’s passion and calling that began during her days in seminary at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
under the mentorship of Dr. Stan Nelson. Missions and the local church’s role in that have been this San Francisco native’s heart, and she has been involved in CBF’s national and regional leadership since 2000. In 2005, Yee was elected to serve as CBF Moderator, the Fellowship’s highest-ranking elected office. Yee shares that passion with her congregation, igniting in them a similar interest to help the community. They support CBF’s missions globally through financial donations and work regionally with CBF West on various initiatives and missions WINTER 2021-2022
projects, in addition to their local partnership with Lita and Rick. The Samples recognize humility, compassion and commitment in this congregation, which provides the foundation for mission engagement that has allowed them to truly make a difference. “I have a deep passion for the local church, its vibrancy, and the space that it offers the community to come and live with God and other people,” said Yee. “Missions helps our church family to concretize our faith when we actually live out what we’re learning in Bible study. It makes faith more real. The experience becomes richer and more vivid when it’s fleshed out instead of just being theoretical. Missions give something for your heart to do, not just desire.” As Yee will tell you, while the church’s desire for sharing God’s love with everybody has always stayed the same, the expression of it has changed over time depending on what opportunities have arisen. It has included serving in a soup kitchen, helping with refugee transition, providing volunteers for community events, and been as simple as opening up clean restrooms for a local concert series. “It depends on what comes up and where we sense God’s spirit leading,” Yee said. “It’s a dynamic process of really trying to listen and
watch what God’s spirit is doing around us, and see how we can cooperate with that. We have limited resources, but people are willing to try things and sow seeds.” This past year also saw Nineteenth Avenue open up the church buildings for a neighboring school to provide educational support for children during the shelter-inplace orders when the public schools closed. Wah Mei School was able to teach and tutor kids who would have otherwise struggled to do their schoolwork online at home alone. Nineteenth Avenue also delivered groceries for families in the neighborhood whose children attend Jefferson Elementary School next door to the church. Without the finances to actually purchase groceries, the church leveraged its “people power” to pick up and deliver them, helping families with working parents who didn’t have time to pick up groceries themselves. “This pandemic brought to the surface the truth of our common humanity,” Yee said. “So, identifying with the needs around the world because you’re actually experiencing it too is kind of an easy connection to make. It’s just basic to look out for the needs of other people. COVID-19 has really called us back to the simple truths that ‘we are a community, together’ and ‘it’s good to live for the wellbeing of all people around us.’”
Nineteenth Avenue has always been a church that desires to share God’s love with everybody, with a heart for missions and cultivating beloved community with every opportunity that arises.
Currently, Nineteenth Avenue is sowing the field for the future, focusing on those seed-planting mission projects that will help them become a trusted, reliable presence in the Sunset District. Its goals include being a space for community meetings, a resource for input on various community endeavors, like the current affordable housing project and ultimately to build relationships with people in the community. They’ve also remodeled the church’s kitchen (a perk of being closed for so long), and hope to begin using it to offer another space for community dinners as well as a space for people to come in and build friendships. “I hope that people who come here find a space to belong,” Yee said. “That’s our goal, really. I hope people find a community that seeks to be centered on Christ and all that Christ is about so that our confession of faith in Jesus is the unifying thing—even while we honor political, theological, racial and socioeconomic diversity. That’s what I hope Nineteenth Avenue can be and provide. “I also hope our little story can inspire others to have some hope in the world for what God is able to do through us,” she added. “There can be spaces where people love each other even when they are different, where there’s something beyond yourself to look to for a sense of future, hope and grace. And anybody can be a part of it.”
CBF Book Club www.cbf.net/books
Featuring new subjects, great authors, more comprehensive reading guides and Fellowship-wide virtual events.
By Sarah Bessey
By Jon Meacham
A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal
For the weary, the angry, the anxious, and the hopeful, this collection of moving, tender prayers offers rest, joyful resistance, and a call to act. This book celebrates and honors that prayerful tradition in a literary form. A companion for all who feel the immense joys and challenges of the journey of faith, this collection of prayers says it all aloud, giving readers permission to recognize the weight of all they carry. These writings also offer a broadened imagination of hope—of what can be restored and made new. Each prayer is an original piece of writing, with new essays by Bessey throughout.
His Truth Is Marching on: John Lewis and the Power of Hope
John Lewis, who at age 25 marched in Selma, Alabama, and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, was a visionary and a man of faith. Drawing on decades of wide-ranging interviews, Meacham writes of how this great-grandson of a slave and son of an Alabama tenant farmer was inspired by the Bible and key leaders to put his life on the line in the service of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” In many ways, Lewis brought a still-evolving nation closer to realizing its ideals, and his story offers inspiration and illumination for Americans today who are working for social and political change. WINTER 2021-2022
A Trailblazing Ministry
Rev. Cheryl Adamson champions equity and combats injustices in Conway, S.C. By Chris Hughes
the Rev. Cheryl Adamson, living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ means embodying a ministry of presence, meeting the tangible needs of her community and, most of all, providing a ministry of truth telling. “One of the scriptures that informs my living is John 8:31-32, where Jesus says to the people following him: ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain in my word; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,’” she recites chapter and verse from memory. “I’ve always been about the freedom that comes with telling the truth,” Adamson added. Adamson is a 2021 recipient of the McCall Racial Justice Trailblazer Award presented by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship at its annual General Assembly. The award is named for the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel McCall, the first African American to serve as CBF moderator and a trailblazing leader who has devoted his life as a student, denominational leader, pastor, author and scholar to the pursuit of racial justice. The Trailblazer Award recognizes individuals like Adamson who have created inroads into uncharted, unequal or unjust areas of life. As the founding pastor of Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church, a CBF-partner church in Conway, South Carolina, and the executive director of the church’s outreach, Palmetto Works Community
Top: Children from Palmetto Kids! Music and Arts Academy show off their Valentine’s Day treats. Bottom: Rev. Cheryl Adamson, recipient of the 2021 McCall Racial Justice Trailblazer Award.
Development Corporation, Adamson has a history of blazing trails. She was among the first Black students to graduate from Conway High School and also from the University of South Carolina, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1974. She went on to earn a Master’s degree in health education from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1982. In the first part of her career, Adamson worked in public health for South Carolina as the state’s first HIV/AIDS educator, then shifted into a number of roles in local government and with community nonprofits/organizations. But God had more in store for Adamson as she began to sense a call to ministry. “I preached my first sermon at age 46 and then began attending divinity school at age 47,” she said. Through the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School, Adamson forged relationships within CBF life through mentors like Curtis Freeman, Duke’s Baptist House director, and Marion Aldridge, then coordinator for CBF South Carolina (CBFSC). For more than 15 years, Adamson has served as the pastor of
Through Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church and Palmetto Works, Cheryl Adamson has created several ministries to address growing inequalities in Conway, S.C., including programs for children and teens, and initiatives to address hunger and food insecurity in a food desert.
LEARN MORE Check out the 2021 McCall Racial Justice Trailblazer Award video! Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church and for the last nine years as executive director of Palmetto Works. Through Palmetto Works, the church offers several ministries to address growing inequalities in Conway, including Palmetto Kids! Music and Arts Academy for children from five to 12 years old, Palmetto Youth Leadership Academy for teenagers 13 to 18 years old, and Culinary and Hospitality Operatives Prepared to Serve (CHOPS), a program which sells South Carolina-grown and produced fruits and vegetables to the community. Palmetto Works is located in a USDA certified food desert, meaning there is not a grocery store within one mile. “In everything we do, we’re trying to raise the visibility of certain conditions in our community that don’t reflect Jesus Christ, that don’t reflect a true belief in the Imago Dei, and that don’t reflect the belief in the infinite abundance that our faith should represent,” Adamson emphasized. The church remains nimble in its approach to ministry. Housed in a leased storefront, Palmetto Works is the only property that the church operates. The congregation worships in the chapel of St. Paul’s
Anglican Church. They also work in partnership with other churches to offer summer camps and after-school programs. “We are a church without walls,” Adamson said. “We put people over programs over property.” Palmetto Works and Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church have also created several partnerships with educational institutions and provided mentorship to a new generation of pastors, health professionals and community advocates. Over the past four years, the church has served as a field education placement for students from Duke Divinity School. In addition, the church has supervised a number of students in the Public Health program at Coastal Carolina University. Many of them have gone on to replicate what they learn in their professional lives by starting food ministries, urban gardens and after-school programs in their own communities. For Adamson, it is not just about what these students learn while with Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church, but the context to which they are exposed. “Not every Black student who goes through Duke gets to train in an African-American context,” she said. “I consider this to be social justice because it influences Black students who get to see how they can have an impact in their communities; and, for white students, it exposes them to communities that might not reflect their own experiences.” Her ministry has garnered praise from church members, city leaders and from across CBF life. “As a church starter associated
with CBFSC and as the first Black Baptist woman to pastor a CBFSC-partner congregation, she has paved the way for a growing relationship between CBFSC and other African-American Baptist pastors,” said CBFSC Coordinator Jay Kieve. “Cheryl has brought souls to Christ, modeled a Christian life, and dedicated her life to meeting the needs of her neighbors,” said Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy, the mayor of Conway. “She is in the same mold as Emmanuel McCall,” remarked longtime former CBFSC Coordinator Marion Aldridge. “They are two peas in a pod, heroes for the 20th and 21st centuries.” “The award is an honor because of the person it represents and the cause that it stands for,” according to Adamson. “It’s humbling because of the extreme sacrifices and hardships made by other women and men who came before me. But it’s also a challenge to excellence in whatever I do going forward to pave the way for those who will come after me.” To reckon with racial injustices of the past and present, Adamson believes it is time for churches to start telling the truth. “What is needed now is for Christians, churches and ministers to learn our true history here in America, and to face the implications of that truth,” she says. “We have to move with just as much commitment and intensity as the forces of racism move in the other direction in order to truly be anti-racist.”
As a “church without walls,” Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church serves the community through partnership with other churches to offer summer camps and after-school programs, as well as through the ministries of Palmetto Works and Culinary and Hospitality Operatives Prepared to Serve (CHOPS)
The Life of a Chaplain on a Friday in August By Brent Raitz Brent Raitz is a board-certified (BCCI) staff chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic and has been the chaplain for 11 years over the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute which has been ranked as #1 in the nation and world for 27 consecutive years in heart care. Brent has been endorsed by CBF since 2012.
Rounded in pre-surgery area and offered prayer for nine out of 11 patients that I met before they went in for heart, vascular or thoracic surgery. Provided support to nurse who was vaccinated but got COVID-19 anyway. Today is her first day back after being off for 10 days. 0600
Reached out to Jehovah’s Witness volunteer to visit patient in H81 who only wanted to speak to someone of their faith.
Was notified that a 23-year-old patient in the CVICU who had been here for 71 days and was being taken emergently into the OR for a “Hail Mary” surgery. Said prayer with staff.
Patient in next bed space recognized me from pre-surgery two days ago and asked if I would talk with her and hold her hand because she was anxious while the nurse was trying to insert a line into her hand. Patient thanked me for being a calm presence. 0915
Paged to pre-surgery for a Catholic patient who was having a drainage line in her brain removed. Patient was extremely scared and tearful while trying to remain hopeful that procedure will alleviate her pain. Offered prayer and emotional support. 0930
Followed up with family in CVICU who was having a hard time saying goodbye to their family member. Patient was COVID-positive, 43 years old, a nurse and was unvaccinated with multiple comorbidities. Offered prayer with family again. Family still not ready to withdraw technology supports. Staff venting frustration of an unnecessary death. 1040
Grabbed a quick 15-minute lunch. Attempted to catch up on charting.
Patient in leukemia unit just received stem cells. Offered a stem cell blessing over the patient with his wife. Patient is hopeful for new life.
Returned to CVICU to help assist with a Code Lavender called on the unit because of high levels of stress and critical situation of patient in OR. Many staff fearful of poor outcome.
Code Blue called on patient on step-down unit. Patient 1230 rushed to CVICU. Provided support to patient’s husband who was in shock as the patient just got to step-down. Helped walk the husband back to CVICU family lounge. Husband sobbed on my shoulder some. Got a text from young couple asking if I was coming to 1300 their wedding rehearsal tonight because they are anxious and decided last minute they need to run through things. Evening plans now changed. Received page from nurse coordinator to meet with a patient’s fiancé who is in family lounge. Patient has COVID and was planning to get married in five months. They have three children. Just booked honeymoon trip to Alaska two days ago. Wife states medical team told her he has a 20 percent chance of recovery. Held lots of tears. (Update: This patient recovered, and I officiated their wedding!) 1305
Received page that patient in CVICU died in the OR. Family is so distraught that they cannot will themselves to be bedside. Staff on unit are a wreck. They meticulously clean up the body and box up her belongings. We gather around bedside, cry and pray for some closure. 1345
Decide that driving home is pointless due to the wedding rehearsal. Instead, the most therapeutic thing I can do after a day like today is to reflect and not push through to the next task but feel all the emotions of the day. It’s heavy. I feel anger and sadness and exhaustion, but I also feel grateful to meet people in sacred places. I am grateful for a team in our department that pulls together when things get hectic. I am grateful for the CVICU teams I work with that feel like family and that they think of me as their pastor on the units. It has been a hard day, but even at the end of such a crazy day, I still love what I do and have done over these past 11 years as a chaplain. I am tired, but it is a good tired. I made a difference today. 1530
In October, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship celebrated Spiritual Care Week—a week dedicated to sharing the stories of chaplains and pastoral counselors ministering across the nation and around the world in a variety of settings. Read their stories and celebrate their ministries at www.cbf.net/spiritualcare2021.
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A TAX-SAVVY WAY TO SUPPORT THE COOPERATIVE BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP As we near the end of 2021, we are grateful for God’s provision in the past year. One way God continues to provide for our efforts to spread the hope of Christ is through gifts from supporters like you.
STOCK GIFTS You can save significantly on two types of taxes, and your donation will make a bigger difference for CBF at a lower cost for you! When you donate your appreciated assets, you avoid paying the capital gains tax. Additionally, if you itemize deductions, you can also take a charitable deduction for the entire donation amount. Visit FreeWill.com/Stocks/CBF to learn more and make a stock gift today.
IRA ROLLOVER GIFTS If you are 70.5 or older, gifts from your retirement savings come with a myriad of benefits — in addition to supporting CBF, they also reduce your future tax burden and can help you to meet your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). RMDs (the legal amount you must withdraw from your retirement assets when you reach age 72) have returned this year after a brief suspension in 2020. If you are eligible, you must withdraw money from your IRA this year—and for some, your contribution may be larger than in previous years. Visit FreeWill.com/QCD/CBF to start your IRA gift today. Note: to receive the tax benefits your gift must be received and processed before December 31, 2021!