As the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship nears its 30th year, we have begun a journey to discover and then respond to God’s call for the Fellowship in this moment. The world has changed since our founding in 1991 —CBF, our congregations, our partners and the cultures and contexts in which we minister continue to change. We move forward confident that the Holy Spirit will guide us “Toward Bold Faithfulness” in our life together for the sake of Christ’s mission amid these changes.
Discovering & Responding to God’s Call Together
Cooperative Baptists are invited this fall to enter an intentional season of prayerful discovery that will lead to a faithful response guiding the Fellowship’s future focus and priorities.
The initiative, called “Toward Bold Faithfulness: Discovering and Responding to God’s Call Together,” was launched Monday by CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley after the Fall meeting of the CBF Governing Board.
Baxley said the time is right for the Fellowship to enter a “shared season of discovering where God most needs us to place our energies so that our congregations can thrive, and Christ’s mission can flourish among us.”
“The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a community of congregations, field personnel, theological schools, chaplains, church starters and other partners distinctly equipped by the Holy Spirit to uniquely participate in Jesus’ mission of love,” Baxley said. “We enter this season in hope and confidence, and we will pray and listen in the conviction that our gifts, graces and shared resources position us for bold faithfulness and an even more significant impact in our communities and around the world.”
The work is based on the prayerful exploration of a series of essential questions that flow from the conviction that calling emerges at the intersection of the gifts and graces given by the Holy Spirit, the needs of congregations and the world, and the opportunities for growth and expansion that are opening before us.
Toward Bold Faithfulness will be coordinated by a Discovery Team co-chaired by Baxley and Carol McEntyre, CBF’s Moderator-Elect and pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo. The Discovery Team is representative of the breadth of the life of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship — generation, gender, geography, congregation size and location, as well as theological perspective. It includes congregational leaders, representatives of governance bodies with responsibility for carrying out the mission and ministry of CBF, State and Regional leaders and representation from partner organizations.
CBF’s Moderator Kyle Reese expressed the importance of the Discovery Team’s composition.
“We’ve worked diligently to include as diverse a representation of leadership in the CBF family as possible,” Reese said. “We pray that the diversity of our leadership team will translate into broad participation of the entire fellowship throughout the process. We can’t be fully who God is calling us to be without listening in every way possible to as many voices as possible. It’s going to be a great journey.”
In this initiative, the work of discovery is distinct from the work of response. The prayerful discovery will begin this fall and allow the team to listen intensely and intentionally for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Through an online survey, telephone and video conference conversations, in-person meetings as well as a resource, the Discovery Team will actively engage Cooperative Baptists, listening to clergy and laity, as well as those who do not attend a CBF congregation.
By spring/summer 2020 the outcomes of the discovery process will be presented to the Fellowship community and transitioned to appropriate teams to lead the response. The 2020 General Assembly will mark the conclusion of the discovery process and the beginning of the response phase.
The work is based on clear theological commitments and is undertaken in a posture of prayerful discovery seeking to nurture an ongoing culture of strategic discovery and planning in CBF life.
The initiative also seeks to foster dynamic collaboration, not only within the process itself, but in the larger life of the Fellowship. Rooted in the Apostle Paul’s description of his “partnership in the gospel” with the church at Philippi, dynamic collaboration is founded on the belief that we absolutely need one another in order to be faithful to Christ. Dynamic Collaboration is a life-giving, community-shaping, koinonia.
McEntyre expressed the importance of this initiative in its call for us to pause for discovery and then respond.
“God’s work is dynamic and responsive to needs of world that is constantly changing,” McEntyre said. “As such, the call of God on the Fellowship is dynamic, and it is essential that we pause and listen to the voice of God, to discover and respond to God’s call for this day.”
The Discovery Team
Paul Baxley (co-chair)
Rev. Dr. Paul Baxley is the Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a Christian network comprised of people and churches that partner in renewing God’s world. In January 2019, he was unanimously elected as the fourth Executive Coordinator in the history of the 27-year-old Fellowship, a diverse community that includes nearly 1,800 congregations, thousands of individuals, 19 state/regional organizations, 750-plus chaplains and pastoral counselors, dozens of theological education and ministry partners, and 70 field personnel serving in more than 25 countries.
Rick Bennett has served as coordinator of CBF Tennessee since 2016. He lives in Maryville, Tenn., with his wife, Rebecca, and two sons, Tyler (18), and Ethan (15). Before serving in Tennessee, Rick served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Elkin, N.C. Prior to serving as pastor, Rick was on the staff of CBF Global for 9 years. He is a Bachelor of Arts graduate of Campbell University and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.
Karen Birdwhistell is a retired early childhood teacher, elementary principal and literacy coach. She enjoys serving as a volunteer reading tutor at her church, in addition to her favorite role of reading to and with her grandchildren. She and her husband, Barry, and are members of Living Faith Baptist Fellowship in Elizabethtown, Ky., where she serves as Children’s Ministry Leader, and Worship and Wonder coordinator.
Susan Crumpler lives in Mason, Ohio, and serves with her husband, Jim, as Co-Coordinator of North Central CBF. She is a retired engineer and former Associate Director of Product Development with Procter & Gamble. She serves as a lay leader in her church and previously served as Recorder for CBF Global from 2003-2006. She and Jim have two young-adult children.
Megan Turner Doud
Megan, her husband Brian, and their daughter Caroline currently live in Aiken, S.C., where she currently serves as the Minister for Students and Missions at Aiken’s First Baptist Church. Prior to going to Aiken, she served as the Student Ministry Resident at First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. While in seminary she served as the Student and Children’s Ministry intern at Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. She earned her undergraduate degree from Carson Newman University, where she discerned her call into ministry and interned at her home church, First Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., with the children and youth. Megan understands her passion for relationship-building as guiding her call to serve with students. Megan is passionate and believes in the future of CBF. She has served on the Coordinating Council for CBF South Carolina, and Megan is currently serving as the Past President of the CBF Youth Ministry Network, while currently serving on the CBF Ministries Council.
Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, where she is as an advocate and a resource for women serving in all areas of Christian ministry. She assumed the role of executive director on July 1, 2009. Previously, Pam worked as associate executive director-treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage Society and served on the faculty of Campbell University Divinity School as assistant professor of church history and Baptist heritage. Pam and her husband, Keith, live in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Chris Ellis is the Minister of Mission and Outreach at Second Baptist Church. He moved to Little Rock to join the 2BC staff on July 1, 2006. His wife Elizabeth is a Family Nurse Practitioner and they have three sons: Silas, Micah, and Ian, who keep them extremely busy. Chris is a beach bum from Florida who’s landlocked in Arkansas, though he’s fallen in love with Natural State. After receiving a B.S. in Biblical Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic College, he went to Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, where he received a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Global Mission. Finally, he received a D.Min. from Portland Seminary in Global Leadership.
Daniel E. Glaze serves as pastor of River Road Church, Baptist in Richmond, Va. He is a graduate of Georgetown College, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Daniel is married to Andrea and together they are the proud parents of two daughters, Ella and Ashley, who in turn are the proud parents of Micah, a spirited Australian Shepherd.
Adam Granger (CBF Strategic Engagement Officer)
Adam co-designs and manages strategic initiatives of the Office of the Executive Coordinator related to partner organizations, state and regional organizations and congregational leaders to better serve congregations and the communities they inhabit. For the Discovery Process of Toward Bold Faithfulness, Adam led the processes of design and data collection.
Rachael Johnson is a resident of Abaco, Bahamas. She is member of Lifegate Ministries Church, a CBF partner congregation, where she has led the music department. She is the eldest of three children and is a two-time alum of CBF’s Student.Go missions internship program. Rachael serves on the steering committee of the Pan-African Koinonia, a CBF initiative that works for racial justice and reconciliation both locally (within the Americas) and globally.
Dr. Shaun King is the Senior Pastor at Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. Before coming to Johns Creek, Shaun served churches in Florida, Tennessee, Maryland and Virginia. He graduated from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., where he double majored in Religion and Psychology. He earned his Master of Divinity at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, in Richmond, Va., with an emphasis on Homiletics and Pastoral Care. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, with an emphasis in Leadership and Spirituality. Shaun is married to Laura Beeler King, who also graduated from Carson-Newman College and is currently a Culinary Arts Teacher at Lambert High School. Shaun and Laura have two sons, Nathan and Jackson.
Christopher Mack serves as Minister of Young Adults at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he shares congregational preaching responsibilities, guides the spiritual formation of young adults, and is pastoral liaison for Trinity´s Micah 6:8 social justice team. In his free time, he is a sports enthusiast, enneagram facilitator, movie aficionado, avid reader, craft coffee brewer, Riverwalk jogger, and hill country hiker. He has an MDiv from Baylor´s George W. Truett Theological Seminary and his bachelor´s in psychology from UT Austin.
Pastor Martino has served as the senior pastor of Church of the City, a multicultural and multiethnic congregation in New London, Conn., for 19 years. He is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., with a BA in Sociology and Hispanic Literature. His educational endeavors led him to further his studies where he received his Master’s in Divinity from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico in 1987. He was ordained at Castañer, PR, in May 1989. Pastor Martino has served in different capacities as a community organizer, and in denominational leadership throughout his tenure serving both rural and urban settings.
Carol McEntyre (co-chair)
Carol McEntyre has been pastor at First Baptist Church since July of 2012. Carol grew up in rural Tennessee, which you will know when you hear her southern accent. She met her husband Michael in college at Carson-Newman University in east Tennessee. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and human services from Carson Newman. Carol is also a graduate of George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, where she earned her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work. She has a Doctor of Ministry in Worship, Preaching and Spirituality from Drew University in New Jersey. Carol and Michael have two children, Nate (9); and Marin (4).
Lisa (Lee) Rust is a member of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C., where she currently serves as Chair of Deacons. She is a former Moderator of CBF North Carolina. Lisa attended Furman University in Greenville, S.C., where she earned a degree in Christian Communications. She has been married to Kenneth for 32 years, and they have two sons: James, an attorney in Washington, D.C.; and Jordan, a software developer in Atlanta, Ga. In the past two years they have gained two daughters-in-law and enjoy spending time with both couples and traveling. She is also a pianist and vocalist. Lisa and Kenneth are franchisees with McDonald’s and own and operate 11 restaurants in rural communities. They see their business as a calling and enjoy creative opportunities for ministry within their organization and in the communities in which they do business.
Courtney Stamey is Senior Pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss. Prior to serving Northside she was a pastoral resident at First Baptist Church, Greensboro, N.C., and Peacehaven Community Farm. In her free time, she enjoys playing disc golf, cooking, and being outdoors, especially with her husband, Michael Stamey.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is approaching its 30th anniversary. In recent years, the Fellowship has experienced leadership transitions and other challenges. As we move toward 2020, we are beginning a journey to discover and respond to God’s call for us at this new moment in our life together. We enter this season of prayerful discovery and faithful response in the confidence that the Holy Spirit will guide us to bolder faithfulness for the sake of Christ’s mission.
We will also enter the work of Toward Bold Faithfulness with a generous definition of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as opposed to a narrow one. A narrow construal of CBF equates CBF with the mission and ministry operations based in Decatur; the most generous definition understands CBF as a community of congregations, field personnel, chaplains, state and regional organizations, theological schools, other partners that is convened and encouraged by the work of the CBF Global office in Decatur and staff in other places.
This season of discovery and response will reflect the conviction that CBF (generously defined) exists for the blessing, strengthening and encouraging of congregations for more faithful ministry in their communities and a compelling shared Christian witness in the world.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship inhabits a transitional space not unlike the one Paul and his ministry partners experienced (Acts 15:36-16:11 and following). Among other things, Paul and his companions faced a challenge of discovering where and how they should focus their ministry energies. Would they spend their time and energy continuing the work they had begun in Asia Minor? There came a vision in the night, a man from Macedonia, a call to Europe, and the boldest expansion of the ministry of the early church. But in a stunning scarcity of words, Acts 16:6-11 describes the early church’s journey of discovering and responding to a call to bold faithfulness.
We begin this journey from the foundation of clear theological commitments. We believe that God is still at work in the world, in our communities and through our congregations. By grace, we believe we are still called to speak the message of the Risen Christ and participate in His mission in our communities and all over the world. While we recognize that congregations face challenges, we still believe that congregations are uniquely suited and particularly gifted to offer lived answers to Jesus’ prayer “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
We believe God’s calling for individual congregations and indeed our larger Fellowship community can be discovered through prayerful reflection on the gifts and graces we have been given, the urgent needs of this moment and the opportunities for growth and expansion that we are being given. Indeed, we know that the Scriptures bear clear witness to the truth that the Holy Spirit always gives the church everything we need to do what Jesus wants us to do for him in the world.
Almost a decade ago, CBF leadership established a task force which brought recommendations that clarified CBF identity and substantially revised governance structures. Many of the recommendations of that group have been implemented, but since that process our Fellowship has changed, our congregations have changed, our partners are in very different places, and the communities and cultures in which we minister continue to change.>/p>
This effort is intended to be different in that we are not simply seeking to produce a report or discern a focus for the next stage in our life together. We are approaching this work in ways that foster an ongoing culture of strategic discovery, response and planning in the life of our Fellowship. Scripture makes clear that faithfulness requires openness, agility and innovation. We hope this effort not only offers us guidance on the next steps in our shared calling, but also seeds a continuous culture of discovery and dynamic collaboration.
The work of the Discovery Team is being co-chaired by the CBF Moderator-Elect and the CBF Executive Coordinator. This leadership team is representative of the breadth of the life of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship—generation, gender, geography, congregation size and location and theological perspective. The group includes congregational leaders, representatives of governance bodies with responsibility for carrying out the mission and ministry of CBF, state and regional leaders as well as representation from CBF partner organizations.
The prayerful discovery will begin this fall and allow us to listen intensely and intentionally for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We will listen to clergy and laity, as well as Cooperative Baptists who do not attend a CBF congregation.
The initiative will actively engage with leaders of congregations in several ways. First, all congregational leaders will be encouraged to invite their members to share input via an online survey. Opportunities will be created for telephone conversations with congregational leaders. The Leadership Team will devise other ways of seeking the engagement of the entire fellowship.
By spring/summer 2020, the outcomes of this phase will be presented to the Fellowship community and then transitioned to governance bodies, staff, states/regions, and partners, and if necessary, other response teams, to ensure that the commitments and priorities emerging in prayerful discovery are realized across the larger Fellowship.
The 2020 CBF General Assembly in Atlanta will mark the transition of the work from prayerful discovery to faithful response, so that we align our gifts, graces, resources and structures so that we can boldly and joyfully embark on the journeys to which God calls us.
Toward Bold Faithfulness seeks to foster dynamic collaboration, not only within the initiative itself, but in the larger life of our Fellowship. Dynamic collaboration is founded on the belief that we absolutely need one another in order to be faithful to Christ. Our view of dynamic collaboration is rooted in Paul’s description of his “partnership in the gospel” with the church at Philippi, a partnership that was essential both to Paul and the Philippians, one marked by shared ministry, mutual encouragement, sacrificial friendship and which enabled a shared participation in God’s mission that would have otherwise been impossible.
Dynamic collaboration is a reflection of the image of the Triune God, insofar as the persons of the Trinity share all of the divine work. And it’s a path away from culture of competition and opposition. Instead, it is way toward greater faithfulness, deeper engagement with congregations and growth within our Fellowship.