LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc. (NBCA) and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) entered into an historic partnership today to “build an authentic and Christ-like community through shared work.” The partnership was announced at Simmons College of Kentucky in Louisville, Ky. a historically black college founded in 1879 and the new headquarters of NBCA.
NBCA is a fellowship of voluntary churches approximating 3.5 million African-American Baptists which seeks to holistically impact the world through education, missions and evangelism. CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and NBCA President, Reverend Samuel C. Tolbert Jr. signed the formal memorandum of understanding which stated that the purpose of the partnership is “to begin a conversation that will foster deeper relationships, showcasing the innovative nature of NBCA and CBF, our diverse perspectives and people.”
This new relationship stems from a shared history and heritage and more than a decade of previous cooperation between the two groups through the North American Baptist Fellowship (NABF), the regional body of the Baptist World Alliance of which both CBF and NBC are active members. NBCA and CBF are also active participants in the New Baptist Covenant, an informal alliance launched in 2007 by President Jimmy Carter of more than 30 diverse Baptist organizations to break down barriers between Baptists in North America and pursue justice, reconciliation and transformation.
CBF and NBCA will work together to pursue specific areas of mutual ministry including but not limited to: being the presence of Christ in the United States and around the world; social justice and advocacy awareness; race relations, reconciliation and the dismantling of racism in the U.S.; disaster response and long-term recovery planning and engagement; poverty alleviation in rural and urban areas; and supporting and equipping healthy churches.
The two groups will accomplish these purposes of the partnership through methods of cooperation such as consulting and sharing expertise between on matters of operations, networks, missions and ministries; community building and training interactions for the mutual benefit of the two groups; and focus on providing access to events, goods and services. As part of the partnership, Ron Fairley, CBF’s associate coordinator of projects and services, will provide consulting services to NBCA as it relocates its national headquarters from Dallas to Louisville.
Paynter expressed her excitement for the partnership with Tolbert and NBCA, noting that the partnership will further the effort to strengthen unity between Baptists of diverse backgrounds and is a reminder of the shared identity of NBCA and CBF.
“We celebrate our partnership in the spirit of cooperation, goodwill and common faith,” Paynter said. “We reaffirm our commitment to Baptist values including evangelism, education, helping those in need and promoting religious liberty. Our partnership is an important effort to bring together Baptists from diverse racial, theological and regional backgrounds.
“Our efforts today underscore the spiritual and reconciling nature of 2 Corinthians 3:1-3: ‘Are we beginning to commend ourselves? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and ready by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tables of human hearts.'”
Tolbert said that the partnership will strengthen the Baptist voice at a critical time.
“This new collaborative arrangement will strengthen our Baptist voice, vision and productivity,” Tolbert said. “In a time in the United States when racial tensions are heightened, both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the historically Negro National Baptist Convention of America are blazing fresh and needed alliance. We are not stronger separated but we are stronger together. This movement is of God and we are riding the wave of the Spirit. Our witness for Jesus Christ and our progress together will become liberating to a society darkened by sin’s grip.”
The new partnership began to take shape following the “Great Flood” in August which devastated the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana. Through their disaster relief work together as members of NABF, CBF and NBCA leaders met to plan their long-term recovery efforts in a neglected and concentrated area in Baton Rouge to assist churches and communities impacted by the floods.
At the invitation of Tolbert, Fairley spoke at the 136 Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention of America on Sept. 14 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to share about the emerging partnership between the groups and the participation of CBF and NBCA through the NABF Disaster Relief Network.
During a Sept. 17 visit to CBF’s headquarters in Decatur, Ga., Fairley and Paynter presented Tolbert with a contribution on behalf of the Fellowship to provide 100 of NBCA’s disaster response resource manuals to 100 pastors of the NBCA. This meeting initiated the formal partnership agreement announced today.
To learn more about the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc., visit http://www.nbcainc.com. For additional information about the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, visit www.cbf.net.