Paynter proclaims the power of ‘and’

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter says the ampersand symbol aptly describes the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, joining divergent concepts into one whole. (CBF Photo)

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DALLAS—The ampersand—&, which stands for “and”—is a great symbol for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter told the organization’s 2015 general assembly in Dallas.

First century Romans created the ampersand to represent et, the Latin word for “and,” Paynter explained. The symbol was so popular in English, it became the 27th letter in the alphabet for awhile.

ampersand logo200Although the ampersand is ancient, it is “a symbol for our time,” she said, extolling the use of “and” to join people and ideas and meanings and concepts. 

“There is tremendous power in ‘and’—to join together, to congregate, to be ‘and,’” she insisted. 

The idea of combining and joining is so persistent, “and” has been imbedded in the DNA of CBF a long time, Paynter said.

To illustrate, she described the results when a research company asked members to explain CBF in one sentence. “They described CBF in an ampersand sentence,” she said. “They almost always described CBF with ‘and,’” joining divergent concepts into one whole. 

CBF a ‘denominetwork’

That idea gels with Paynter’s notion CBF is a “denominetwork,” a term Paynter coined last year. It reflects aspects of both a traditional denomination and a modern, flexible network, she explained. 

CBF is “a community loosely connected but reflecting individual calling,” she said.

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Its reflection of “and” puts CBF in good company with Jesus, who began his ministry with “and,” Paynter observed.

She referenced Jesus’ inaugural sermon (Luke 4:8), where he announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” and the Spirit anointed Jesus to “proclaim good news to the poor,” and “freedom for the prisoners,” and “recovery of sight to the blind,” and “to set the oppressed free” and “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Shorthand for positive, cooperative Christianity

“‘And’ teaches you to say yes” to Jesus and to Jesus’ call to follow him, touching and changing lives in his name, she said.

“I propose the ampersand as shorthand for positive, cooperative Christianity,” she added. “This is who we are” as CBF.

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