GREENSBORO, N.C. (ABP)—The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship “embraced the challenge of change” during the past 12 months, CBF Moderator Keith Herron said in his report to the 2013 general assembly in Greensboro, N.C.
Last year’s general assembly in Fort Worth saw passage of a major restructuring of the 1,800-church Fellowship following a two-year study by a blue-ribbon panel known as the 2012 task force.
That was just the beginning of a year of transition, said Herron, senior pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.
Shortly after last year’s assembly, Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal retired after 15 years as the second permanent CEO of the group formed in 1991. CBF leaders turned to former CBF moderator Pat Anderson as interim coordinator, while a search committee got to work on finding a permanent successor.
The ensuing months brought a series of unexpected resignations by high-ranking and long-term staff, Herron said, all voluntary.
An implementation team was formed to build from the blueprint contained in the 2012 task force report. Amid all that, the CBF Coordinating Council approved formation of a new 501(c)3 charity named Fellowship Responds to expand an ongoing disaster-relief ministry.
Needing qualified leaders to populate a new governing council and two new mission and ministry councils, the national CBF appointed state and regional CBF coordinators as an interim nominating committee.
The group brought forth a full slate for a 12-member Governing Council, which takes over administration duties before now carried out by a 69-member Coordinating Council, and the first cycle of three-year terms for the new Ministries Council, chaired by Michael Cheuk, senior minister of University Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Va., and Missions Council chaired by Mimi Walker, pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta.
As the Coordinating Council welcomed Suzii Paynter as new executive coordinator in February, the group also authorized the officers to renegotiate a lease with Mercer University with plans to relocate to new offices in Decatur, Ga. Herron said those offices are currently being prepared.
“We have a new organization. We have a new leader. We have a new ministry and we have a new location, custom space that is designed to help our organization achieve its purpose,” Herron said. “We have changed a lot this last year.”
Introducing Bill McConnell
Herron, who completed his one-year term as moderator at the end of the 2013 general assembly, will remain on the leadership team next year as immediate past moderator. Next year’s moderator will be Bill McConnell, partner in Rogers & Morgan, a manufacturer’s representative firm specializing in engineering equipment for air-flow management in Knoxville, Tenn.
“I’ve come to his point in time from a lifetime of involvement in the local church,” said McConnell, a layman active at Central Baptist Church Bearden in Knoxville.
“Your new moderator is a person who has spent a lifetime in the local church setting, and who believes that the local church is the foundation of what we do as CBF,” McConnell said.
He contrasted the tone of this year’s assembly to two years ago, when he stood on the platform as finance committee chair and recommended a budget significantly reduced from the previous year. That resulted in personnel cuts, causing “concern and great discouragement,” he recalled.
A new day
“I have to say that as of today we’re meeting in a very different attitude,” McConnell said, “because this day is a new day.”
Next year’s moderator-elect, who will succeed to moderator in 2015, is Kasey Jones, senior pastor of National Memorial Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Jason Coker, pastor of Wilton Baptist Church in Wilton, Conn., is recorder.
Along with a new constitution and bylaws to govern the new structure, participants approved a $12.4 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year and commissioned three church starters, six global mission field personnel and 48 new chaplains and pastoral