ATLANTA (ABP) — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal has announced that he will retire effective June 30, 2012.
“Fifteen years ago I sensed a calling of the Spirit to become coordinator of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” Vestal told the CBF advisory council at its regularly scheduled September meeting. “Now I am sensing a release from that calling.”
Vestal said he would serve until June 30 unless a successor is named sooner. He said he has asked officers to appoint a search committee for a new executive coordinator, as outlined in CBF personnel policies.
“Through the years I have discovered that discerning the will of God for my life and ministry has been an unfolding experience,” Vestal said. “Seldom have I known providence other than in illumination for the next decision or in strength for the next step. And that has been sufficient. Often I have prayed for wisdom as I approached times of transition. Now is such a time for transition.”
The advisory council meets and acts on behalf of the CBF governing body, the Coordinating Council, between meetings. The Coordinating Council is scheduled to meet Oct. 19-21 in Atlanta.
“Dr. Vestal has been our shepherd for a long time, guiding us past a painful conflict and pointing us toward the goal of being the presence of Christ in the world,” said Colleen Burroughs, CBF moderator and vice president of Passport Inc. “This has been a healing season, and he leaves us as we are walking stronger as a Fellowship. We are grateful for Daniel's leadership, kindness and diplomacy and pray God’s abundant blessing on whatever is next for Earlene and him, and for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”
Vestal was elected CBF coordinator in 1996 as successor to founding coordinator Cecil Sherman. After his unsuccessful bid to become president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1990, Vestal convened a meeting of disenfranchised moderates that led to formation of the CBF a year later.
A Texas native, Vestal is former pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Dunwoody Baptist Church in Atlanta and First Baptist Church of Midland, Texas.
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Vestal said he and his family are anticipating their next step in ministry.
“Earlene and I have peace about this decision as well as deep gratitude for the privilege we have had to serve alongside some wonderful colleagues and treasured friends. Our love for CBF is strong, and we look forward to continued involvement. The decision to retire from CBF does not mean we are retiring from active ministry. We are in a discerning process about our next place of ministry and ask for prayer from the Fellowship community.
“One reason I have great hope for the future of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is because of the quality and character of present and emerging leadership,” Vestal said. “CBF is blessed with a host of Baptist Christians who believe in our vision and values. Thanks be to God.”
Lance Wallace is director of communications for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.