What You Can Do Right Now to Help Puerto Rico

By Sarah Withrow King and Rev. Carlos Malavé

The island of Puerto Rico is home to 3.4 million people, and they are suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Many of us want to help, but don’t know where to start. So, here are five things you can do, right now, to help Puerto Rico:

Five Things Christians Can Do Right Now to Help Puerto Rico

1. Pray. Pray for God to intercede in the lives and actions of those who can help or hurt relief efforts. Ask God to clear the way for relief supplies and services to get from port to inland areas. And pray for clean water, food, and electricity be delivered to those in need, right now. Pray so that the resolve and hope of those affected stay strong.

Continue reading at Evangelicals for Social Action website.

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Statement on Charlottesville from Church of God General Director Jim Lyon

Paul Goodloe McIntire was an investment genius, whose savvy management of stock portfolios in both Chicago and New York empowered him to be one of his hometown’s preeminent philanthropists. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement dramatically brought to life at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he dedicated himself to funding monumental public spaces, city parks and squares, most often featuring heroic sculpture. He was born in 1860 and polished his fortune in New York City before retiring in 1918; he then returned to the beloved city of his birth: Charlottesville, Virginia.McIntire was a son of the South. The Old South. His father was the mayor of Charlottesville during the Civil War and negotiated the city’s surrender to Union troops, saving its buildings and leafy neighborhoods from the firestorms that engulfed Fredericksburg and Richmond. As a young man, he attended.

McIntire was a son of the South. The Old South. His father was the mayor of Charlottesville during the Civil War and negotiated the city’s surrender to Union troops, saving its buildings and leafy neighborhoods from the firestorms that engulfed Fredericksburg and Richmond. As a young man, he attended Charlottesville’s famed University of Virginia, studying under Thomas Jefferson’s elegant Rotunda. He would become one of the University’s most extravagant donors, endowing chairs and schools that still bear his name.

And, McIntire gave Charlottesville a statue of Robert E. Lee, straddling the horse Traveler, commanding Lee Park in the heart of the city-the park itself a gift from this wealthy favorite son, who required that access to the park be for “whites only.” He also gave the city Washington Park, named to honor Booker T. Washington, asking that it be reserved for “colored children.” No statues there.

In the week following the unveiling of Lee’s statue in 1924 (at a ceremony in which the Confederate general was proclaimed, “the greatest man who ever lived”), the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses across the town and set bombs around a Charlottesville church popular with the African-American community. Events in Charlottesville mirrored the tenor of the times, as the Klan was in its ascendancy. During the 1920s, up to 25,000 Klansmen, in full regalia-white hoods and all the rest-annually marched proudly down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in a show of force not lost on the minority communities they sought to both marginalize and terrorize.

There were more black Americans living (and enslaved) in Charlottesville and the surrounding Albemarle County, Virginia, before and during the Civil War than there were white Americans. When Lee’s statue took the stage in the 1920s, about 35 percent of the city’s population had descended from those slaves. Memorializing the vanguard of the Confederacy and celebrated by the Klan, Lee Park and its statue received mixed reviews, then and now. People of color in Charlottesville during the McIntire years, and for years, after had no voice in municipal government, having been systemically denied effective representation by Jim Crow-era laws and processes designed to move them to the sidelines. African American slaves built iconic local landmarks (like Jefferson’s Monticello and much of the University of Virginia campus) but were not represented as contributors in any public space, while those who owned people as property were raised up as heroes decades after losing the War.

In May 2016, after some years of community debate, the city of Charlottesville established a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to explore the future of the Lee statue (and another one similar, also a 1920s McIntire gift, of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, proudly on a pedestal elsewhere in town). The Commission managed many months of public conversation and research-often contentious and dubbed “a moment of rupture” by one Commission member-and released its findings in December 2016. The City Council voted in March 2017 to remove and “reinterpret” the Lee monument; this decision was challenged in court; the case remains unresolved, before the bench. This controversy and the Charlottesville story became a cause for the erstwhile guardians of white supremacy, nationwide.

In May 2017, white nationalist (and University of Virginia graduate) Richard Spencer and about a hundred others joined in an after-dark protest of the city’s plans, chanting “Russia is our friend,” “blood and soil” (a Nazi refrain), and “we will not be replaced” (white supremacist-speak declaring that ethnic diversity will render white Americans an “endangered” minority in “their own” country).

In August 2017, Spencer and others aligned with his tribe marched once more through town at night, torch-bearing, chanting the same, only this time hundreds strong. Defiant. Angry. And, armed. The newsreel captures of preppy and black-shirted white dudes snaking with torches through otherwise silent streets, loudly voicing toxic phrases like, “Jews will not replace us,” are a chilling reprise of a world my father (and so many millions more like him) suited up to erase more than seventy years ago.

On the next day, Nazi and Confederate battle flags marched in tandem, ultimately destined for a face-off with protesters adamantly opposed to the racism and white supremacy both have been used to promote in two different centuries-and now a third. The violence, injury, and death that ensued has been the stuff of a thousand headlines and a stable of talking heads on TV in the days since, not to mention government officials, religious leaders, corporate execs, and so many more.

I share all this history to better understand the stage upon which these events have walked. The Civil War frame, the scourge of slavery, the context of the statue, a city’s honest attempt to process how it should today tell its own story with public spaces and art, and the specter of racism which haunts the whole, all encompass the proscenium. Watching the drama unfold, it is time to speak up.

My Terms of Employment at Church of God Ministries specifically prohibit me from making statements that are political in tone or that carry politically-charged content. This parameter is rooted deeply in our Movement’s DNA, historically apolitical and also fearful that any one voice be seen as speaking for church (in the way denominational hierarchies are prone to embrace). Consequently, Church of God Ministries during my tenure (and long before) has not issued statements in response to man-made headlines. However, in this instance, given the temperature of the controversies and requests from the field-and after consultation with our General Assembly chair Diana Swoope, and the Assembly’s chair-elect, Tim Clarke-I am releasing this reply. I own the content, drawing from the General Assembly’s actions and voice on behalf of the church, over time.

The Church of God must provide no quarter to racism of any kind and has consistently rebuked white supremacy. Its General Assembly has many times (beginning in 1956) unambiguously opposed racism, racial segregation, political and social barriers to racial harmony and reconciliation, and racial discrimination of all kinds.

“We base our stand toward basic human rights on the teaching of the Scriptures. God has ‘made of one blood all nations of men’ (Acts 17:26). ‘For we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ…for we are all one in Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 3:26, 28). The first of these speaks as to origin, the second as to relationship. We believe that in the Church of God there should be no racial barriers because we are all brethren in Christ. We believe that man was made in the image of God, that every person is of intrinsic worth before God, and that every individual has a right to the fullest possible opportunities for the development of life abundant and eternal. We believe that these rights are given by God and that the church has a responsibility to defend them and work for their guarantee.” (General Assembly Statement on Race, June 1964)

The Church of God has also consistently acknowledged the intentionality required to overcome hell’s default temptation to divide on racial lines. Responding to racially charged injustice in 2015, the General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed this text:

“We resolve to express our compassion and concern (in the face of racism and racial injustice) in the following six ways:

Leadership-we call on pastors and leaders to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live out a countercultural lifestyle that works to expose and repent of the sin of racial division and acknowledges the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer-we pray for healing, repentance, unity and peace, and we plead for God’s mercy on our nation and on those who are compliant with the racial violence and racial disparities being manifested in the church and in the systems of this world;

Lament-we mourn in solidarity and sympathy with the people of (Charleston’s) Emanuel AME Church and the families, congregations and communities affected by the traumatic impact of these incidents, and we confess our past and present failure to walk faithfully and consistently in the light of our belief in a God who has no respect of persons;

Forgiveness-we affirm radical forgiveness of the persons whose motivation for doing harm to others is racial hatred and discrimination, acknowledging what Jesus taught and showed us by His death on the cross, that love is stronger than hate;

Justice-we acknowledge that ministers in our own General Assembly and fellow congregants have been victims of racial profiling, we stand for justice to be administered on their behalf in a fair and impartial manner, we urgently call for justice in all cases of racially-motivated violence, and we support those agencies and officials who enforce the law and administer justice equitably to ensure the safety and security of all of our citizens, congregations and communities;

Vision of reconciliation-we commit ourselves as people of Christian faith to envision, strategize and work toward the realization of a reconciled church, nation and world.” (General Assembly Resolution on Race, June 2015)

In a world of soundbites and 140-character Twitter posts, it is easy to overlook the seminal contexts and histories of “moments of rupture.” It is easy to drive by a story without pausing to explore the stage-framing events. We must all be committed to studying, listening, and thoughtfully responding in a world so desperately broken, divided, and tense. Charlottesville has become a kind of emblem, a marker for our time. It has already become a shorthand for controversy, media debate, tragedy, and the resurgence of ideas many thought vanquished years ago.

But, whatever the lens, we stand united in our defiance of racism and our vociferous opposition to all ideologies and conduct clothed by white supremacy. As followers of Jesus, transformed by His Holy Spirit, we will be neither separated or tiered by race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, gender, or economic station. We are loved equally by Him-and we must love others the same.

Charlottesville’s long journey to the present hour, wrestling with a complex history that has not always honored all who call it home, has become a flashlight shining into every corner of the country. From Jefferson’s plantation to Lee’s defense of slavery to McIntire’s vision of segregated public spaces crowned by Confederate statues to Klan autographs on twentieth century history to today’s reality, let us “come to a thorough awareness that there is a disparity between our vision for reconciliation and the actual experience of many of our brothers and sisters; And, let us learn to listen to the stories our brothers and sisters share, express in word and deed our feelings of empathy, and commit to walk together as we boldly stand against every form of racism.” (General Assembly of the Church of God, June 2015)

Be bold. Reclaim what hell has stolen. Jesus is the subject. The Way. The Truth. And, the Life.

I am, humbly, your brother in Christ.

Jim Lyon signature
Jim Lyon
General Director

ECC President Walter Announces 2018 Retirement

CHICAGO, IL (August 1, 2017) – Evangelical Covenant Church president Rev. Gary Walter today announced his intention to retire in 2018 following one more year of service. Walter was elected president in 2008 and upon his retirement will have served with the ECC in various capacities for 42 years.

“My core identity is that of a Covenant pastor,” Walter says. “Every position, including this one, has been a distinct and humbling opportunity. My hope for all of these years has simply been to be found faithful as a disciple and servant of Jesus.”

During his tenure, the Covenant has continued to be a growing, multiethnic, multi-generational fellowship of churches. Walter led a significant restructuring of the Covenant, streamlining the denominational offices into a more cost-effective and collaborative structure while helping form one of the most ethnically diverse leadership teams of any denomination in the United States today. Each of the Covenant’s mission priorities and support ministries has made notable accomplishments, garnering recognition for innovative efforts in missions, discipleship, multiethnic ministry, church planting, among others.

“Having served for almost three decades with Gary, I am well aware of how God has used him in many different roles of leadership within the church,” says Steve Dawson, president of National Covenant Properties. “Gary’s wisdom, vision, and work ethic have blessed many along the way—myself included. We all wish him well in this next season.”

“Gary has done so much to take the Covenant deeper in Christ and further in mission,” adds Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples. “I am grateful that he is leaving us with such an outstanding legacy to build upon.”

According to Kansas-based attorney and Executive Board member Jeffrey Houston, Walter’s unique combination of gifts made him a transformational leader for the ECC. “He is a bit of a unicorn: the CEO with a pastor’s heart, or a strategic pastor with an executive’s instincts—whichever way you look at it, he was the leader for such a time as this.”

In his letter to Covenant Executive Board chair Alice Lee, Walter said, “I give this advance notice so that the processes and provisions of the ECC Constitution and By-laws can be implemented in a timely way for the election of the next president at the 2018 Covenant Annual Meeting.”

The Presidential Nominating Committee (PNC) typically begins its work in the fall of the year of an election. According to the Covenant Constitution and By-laws, it is charged with nominating one candidate to the Annual Meeting. Additional candidates may be nominated from the floor.

The PNC will be comprised of 27 members, including 12 from the Covenant Executive Bard, each chair of the 11 regional conference executive boards, and one member from each of the four additional boards elected by the Covenant Annual Meeting (North Park University, Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, Ordered Ministry, and Pension/Benefits).

In his letter, Walter concluded, “I am confident God will raise up gifted and godly leadership for a faithful and fruitful future for the Covenant. I will do whatever is helpful for a smooth transition as that time approaches.” His official retirement date will be September 1, 2018.

President Walter’s letter of notice can be found here.

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens elected as Disciples President

General Assembly elects Teresa Hord Owens as first African-American woman to head mainline denomination

INDIANAPOLIS – Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens was elected Sunday night to serve as the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. She is the first African-American to hold this post and the second woman to lead the denomination.

Hord Owens comes to the position in a time of renewed emphasis on the issues of race, particularly in the United States. Her election comes on the 50th anniversary of the Merger Agreement uniting the African-American and largely white branches of the American-born denomination. She is currently pastor of a predominately white congregation in the Chicago area.

“We need to stop demonizing differences as deficiencies,” Hord Owens says. “We should seek to understand, to work through our differences in priorities, opinions, methods, and goals. This will not be easy, but imagine what an example this will be for the world if we can bridge the gaps in politics, identity, geography and theology.”

Hord Owens’ resume includes more than 20 years in corporate America leading diverse teams in data management before she entered seminary. For the last 15 years, she has been the dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School, shepherding a varied student body in both background and theology.

The election of Hord Owens follows the 12-year tenure of the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, who was the first female to lead a mainline denomination in the United States upon her election in 2005. Hord Owens’ term is six years with an option for re-election in 2023 for an additional six-year term.

Read full article HERE

CCT Pastoral Letter to the Persecuted Church

Follow link: CCT Pastoral Letter Persecuted Church

CCT Call Christians to Pray for US Congress

 

For more than eight years the communions and organizations in Christian Churches Together have been calling the attention of members of our churches and all Americans to the moral task of eradicating hunger and poverty in our land.

The scriptures remind us again and again of God’s concern for the poor, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”— Proverbs 14:31

During the last three weeks of March, the U.S. Congress will make critical decisions that will affect the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters living in poverty. The right decisions could alleviate and pull people out of poverty; the wrong decisions will increase poverty and put the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk.

We are grateful for the vast array of ways our churches are already helping millions of struggling people. We want to build on these efforts, learn from each other, and collaborate more closely. But we can, we must, do more.

We also recognize and encourage leaders in community, economic and public life who seek justice for poor people in our land. But we can, we must, do more. Our goal must be the elimination of poverty in this land.

We affirm our unanimous conviction that, our service to the poor and our work for justice is “at the center of Christian life and witness.” And we commit to renew our prayers, and to understand and live in faithfulness to our Lord’s teaching that when we serve “the least of these”, we truly minister to our Lord Himself.

We are leaders of the Christian community, not an interest group. We have no partisan political agenda. Together we believe that our faith demands and the people of this land yearn for concrete proposals that transcend divisive political divisions and place the lives and well-being of people above anything else.

In the spirit of Jesus, we call our brothers and sisters to lift the U.S. Congress and our President up in prayer, as they make decisions that will affect the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters living in poverty in our country and around the world.

 

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski – Catholic Family
Rev. Gary Walter – Evangelical/Pentecostal Family
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian – Orthodox Family
Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. – Historic Black Family
Rev. David Guthrie – Historic Protestant Family
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé – Executive Director CCT

When Anabaptists were refugees

Gerald J. Mast is Professor of Communication at Bluffton (Ohio) University. This piece originally appeared on his blog, Anabaptist Persuasion

On July 13, 1711, Christian Stutzman and Magdalena Stucki left their home in Bern, Switzerland to travel north down the Rhine River on a boat headed for the Netherlands. Christian was a 34 year old farmer and member of the Reformed Church whose 37 year old wife Magdalena had been baptized into an Amish congregation. Because of Magdalena’s membership in an Anabaptist church, they were being deported by the Bern authorities, along with nearly 350 other Amish and Reistian Swiss Brethren from Bern who left their villages and farms behind to become refugees looking for a safe home across the border.

The refugees on the boats going north carried names such as Eberly, Gerber, Habegger, Jost, Kropf, Meyer, Miller, Moser, Reesor, Raber, Roth, Rupp, Schirch, Schmid, Schlabach, Schwartzentruber, Sommer, Stucki, Stutzman, and Wenger, to list just a few. These Swiss refugees found hospitality in Dutch Mennonite communities that had advocated on their behalf with both Dutch and Swiss authorities. Fifty years later, Christian Stutzman appeared in the records as an Amish minister in the congregation at Kampen. Some of the descendants of these refugees, like those of Christian and Magdalena, eventually ended up in North America.

The details of this deportation and the many decades of harassment and persecution endured by Swiss Anabaptists in the 1600’s and 1700’s are found in two volumes of source documents from the Stadtsarchief Amsterdam, newly transcribed and translated by James Lowry and published by the Ohio Amish Library under the title Documents of Brotherly Love, vols. I and II. These letters and transcripts provide evidence for the persistent and costly work of the Committee for Foreign Needs formed by various Dutch Mennonite groups to provide legal, political, and monetary assistance to persecuted Swiss Anabaptists in Zurich and Bern. For example, in 1671, the Swiss authorities deported around 700 Anabaptists to the Palatinate, punishing those who returned back over the border illegally by imprisoning them and/or branding them with a hot iron. Frustrated by the number of returning refugees, the authorities eventually sold some of them as slaves to row on galley ships. The Dutch Mennonites intervened by advocating on behalf of the refugees, providing money and other assistance for resettlement in the Palatinate, and sending delegations to visit the refugees to check on their well-being.

Why were these Anabaptist farmers so despised by the Bernese authorities that they were uprooted from their homes, many of them imprisoned, and eventually sent north? One reason is that the Swiss Anabaptists were stubborn nonconformists who declined to participate in the official civic Christianity of Switzerland. They refused to swear oaths of allegiance and they were unwilling to take up arms in defense of their homeland. They also disobeyed the numerous mandates against them, often returning illegally to their land and families after being expelled by the authorities.

Keep reading at original source HERE

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops name new director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Department

 

Rev. Alfred Baca Named New Executive Director of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Department

 

January 18, 2017

WASHINGTON—Rev. Alfred Baca from the Diocese of Orange in California, has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, based in Washington D.C.

“Fr. Baca brings to the Conference a wealth of knowledge and experience in the realm of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, both at the institutional and at personal levels,” said USCCB General Secretary, Rev. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, who made the appointment. “I am very grateful to Fr. Baca for accepting this vital position in service to the bishops and to the Conference. I am equally grateful to Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California, for his tremendous support of the Conference and generosity in releasing Fr. Baca for this important service.”

Fr. Baca earned a Bachelor’s in Philosophy in 1985, and a Masters of Divinity in 1989 from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1989, he served in various parish assignments before attending the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, where he received a Licenciate in Sacred Theology with a specialization in Ecumenical Studies in 2006.

Since 2015, Father Baca has served as Pastor of St. Columban Church in Garden Grove, California. From 2009-2015, Father Baca served as the Episcopal Vicar for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs in the Diocese of Orange. Prior to that, he served as Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Officer from 2007-2009.

Of his new role, Father Baca states, “In today’s world, efforts to heal the Christian family are more important than ever.  Cooperation with the other religions of the world can only benefit the human family.  I’m looking forward to collaborating with the Bishops and the USCCB staff in furthering the Church’s mission, especially in the work toward Christian unity and reconciliation.”

Fr. Baca is a member of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO). Until last year, Fr. Baca also served as a representative for CADEIO of the United States.

He will assume his role with the bishops’ conference beginning July 1, 2017.

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Keywords: Rev. Alfred Baca, Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Kevin Vann, Diocese of Orange, California, Rev. Msgr. Brian J. Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary.

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Welcoming the Migrant to the United States

These are uncertain times for so many immigrants in our communities, churches, and homes. The United Methodist Church’s resolution #3281 “Welcoming the Migrant to the United States” offers opportunities and ideas for study and action. Let us join in prayer, for we all are in need of hope and reassurance.

O God we call upon you as a people wandering in search of better homeland

You call us to be welcoming of those who cross borders, seas, rivers, deserts, highways, and mountains escaping poverty, persecution, violence and war. 

Like your disciples, we worry that there is not enough food and we do not see your face. We too are filled with fear. We grow anxious and distant from ourselves and from you. We stand confused and frozen. In the midst of doubt and fear, You draw near pouring out your love and compassion on us. 

We remember and are comforted knowing

you multiplied the loaves and fishes, 

you provided more than food for the body, 

you offered the gift of Yourself, 

                  the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! 

Jesus, help us by your grace,

To banish fear from our hearts; 

To embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;

To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity; 

To know that you call all people to learn the ways of peace and justice;

To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;

To give witness to your love for all people, as we delight in the many gifts we bring. 

We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from the ends of the earth.  We see in your human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Amen.

(Inspired by and adapted from a prayer of the Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Peace,

Susan Henry-Crowe

Baptist groups (in CCT) form historic alliance to share expertise, minister together  

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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.