A Statement from Paul Baxley

Statement from Paul Baxley, Executive Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on the Resignation of Steven Porter

January 11, 2022

Today we are sharing the news with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship family that after seven and a half years of service as Coordinator of Global Missions, Steven Porter has submitted his resignation. Steven expressed that he has sensed a stirring toward some writing projects and more direct engagement in ministry than the administrative and travel demands of his present role allow. After spending some time, in part, to help insure a smooth transition, Steven will conclude his tenure on February 28.

As we have seen throughout his tenure, Steven is a gifted theologian of the Christian mission who loves Christ, is deeply and profoundly committed to Jesus’ mission, and who is unwaveringly committed to the vitality of CBF and CBF Global Missions. During his tenure, we have embraced new mission distinctives, developed and implemented a new funding model for CBF Global Missions that has positioned us for a sustainable and thriving future, envisioned new synergies between field personnel and congregations, and begun implementation of new ways of celebrating the impact of ministries around the world. At the same time, we have seen an increase in collaboration between Global Missions and other areas of CBF ministry and mission. He will remain a leading voice in Christian mission and Baptist life, not only as a Cooperative Baptist but also as a participant and leader in the global Baptist community.

I ask all Cooperative Baptists to join me in praying for Steven and the Porter family as they enter a new season of life and faithfulness and in expressing gratitude to Steven for his strong commitment to our Fellowship and for all the ways he has offered his unique gifts in a season of profound transition in our Fellowship’s life.

Steven’s resignation calls us to imagine a new season in Global Missions. We begin that season with deep gratitude and hope because of our nearly 60 field personnel who are serving all around the world. They are incredibly gifted, leading beautiful and faithful ministries, connecting CBF congregations and local ministry partners in cultivating beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and seeking transformational development among those suffering in poverty and in the midst of migration. Around the United States and all around the world, these ministries are inviting people to follow Jesus and grow as disciples while also extending Jesus’ healing and participating in transformation of lives and communities from Indonesia to Africa to Central Europe to North America.

Please join me in praying for these field personnel. Just as these past two years have been challenging for our congregations and their leaders, they have been incredibly difficult for our field personnel. Not only have they faced remaking their ministries, but many have done so in the midst of extended lockdowns, profound isolation and political turmoil. Through it all, they have found ways to share Christ’s love and provide incredibly important ministry to people most impacted by the global pandemic. Our field personnel are still connecting our congregations to ways Christ is at work all around the world. So, in these days let us pray that they will know the love and power of God as never before and let us pray with gratitude for their faithfulness.

We can also have much hope in these times because of the leadership of our Global Missions administrative team. We are incredibly fortunate to have gifted people in those positions. They will continue to support field personnel, tell the stories of their ministries and celebrate real impact, serve congregations, invite young Baptists into Global Mission, coordinate processes to fill open positions, and help us discover more deeply the ways we are all called to join Christ’s mission in our communities and around the world.

For these reasons, we will make no immediate or hasty decisions as we assess the future leadership of this foundational ministry of CBF. The calling we have is too important, and this ministry is too valuable. Rather, during this Epiphany season, we will enter a season of dreaming and discovering.

In the first phase of this transition, I will take more active leadership of CBF Global Missions in partnership with our field personnel, our field ministries team and our Global Missions administrative staff. My office will coordinate a strategic engagement process. We will take time to ask important questions, make space for holy and courageous conversation, listening individually and collectively to field personnel, Global Missions staff, Missions Council members, Encourager churches and others, so that we discover ways to further strengthen our Global Mission engagement and the culture of our Global Missions team while also identifying exactly what kind of leadership gifts and structure are needed now as we embark on CBF’s fourth decade of an increasingly unique way of participating in Jesus’ mission.

After the initial stages of the assessment, we will identify what formal interim leadership is required, if necessary. We intend for the initial engagements to inform the proper timeline for the launch of a search for a new coordinator of Global Missions. Along the way, I will provide updates on our progress and our process.

Above all, this is a time to renew and strengthen our commitment to Global Missions. From our founding just over 30 years ago, we Cooperative Baptists have sensed a clear call to join the Risen Christ in mission around the world. In recent years, our Toward Bold Faithfulness discovery process clearly revealed that Global Missions is one of the most powerful gifts the Holy Spirit has given our Fellowship as we respond to urgent needs in our communities and around the world. So, this is a time to pray fervently, give generously and to join with the Holy Spirit in calling and sending a new generation of women and men to serve in the Global Mission in partnership with the Global Church. We have only begun to discover the kinds of synergies of grace that come as field personnel and congregations join together. In these days we need to deepen those relationships so that our field personnel are supported, our congregations are joined to a mission around the world that would otherwise be impossible, and in doing so come to see our own local ministries more clearly.

The Holy Spirit is indeed inviting us into deeper partnerships with Christ and Christians all around the world so that we may equip one another for a more passionate and dynamic discipleship so that we, by sheer grace, participate in God’s transformation of the world through Jesus Christ.