CBF’s Paynter announces leadership transition

July 19, 2018
By Jeff Huett

DECATUR, Ga. — Suzii Paynter, who in March 2013 became only the third executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, announced today that she is working with the CBF Governing Board to transition her leadership of the 27-year-old denomi-network.

“CBF is at a great place and poised for even greater impact,” Paynter said. “Thinking of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes that ‘to all things there is a season,’ I have been led to explore the options available to me as I plan my retirement from the CBF Executive Coordinator position.”

During her tenure at CBF, Paynter has championed Fellowship congregations, preaching and teaching in several hundred churches. She led CBF in a celebration of its 25th Anniversary, including a successful $12.5-million fundraising campaign to help support CBF into the future and oversaw a restructure and new strategy for CBF’s Global Missions work. Suzii led CBF in the development of formal advocacy efforts— ongoing ways to raise the voices of individuals and congregations on matters such as usurious payday lending and immigration reform and helped strengthen CBF’s connections to organizations that lead the way in speaking out about such issues.

Suzii also has led the creation of diversity and expansion initiatives in CBF life and recruited leaders to head them up, including the Latino Network, Fellowship Southwest, the African-American Network and McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative. She has encouraged, celebrated and been a catalyst for the leadership of women in ministry. She also led CBF in a process called the Illumination Project to help Cooperative Baptists and churches chose unity over division, even among issues that have challenged many denominations.

CBF Moderator Gary Dollar expressed appreciation for Paynter and optimism for CBF’s future.

“Suzii has been the right leader at the right time for CBF,” Dollar said. “God equipped Suzii with unique skills, abilities and a deep compassion for others, and she faithfully used those things to grow CBF’s work in the Kingdom. We will miss her phenomenal leadership and energy, but we are optimistic about the future because we know Suzii built a solid foundation that will give our next leader an exciting opportunity to expand on our mission. The entire Governing Board is deeply appreciative of all Suzii’s done for CBF, and we wish her the best as she follows wherever God takes her from here.”

Paynter will remain as CBF Executive Coordinator until a successor begins work and will continue to work on behalf of CBF priorities even after she transitions out of the role.

Appreciation for Paynter and her tenure

Former CBF Moderators that have served alongside Paynter praised her leadership.

Bill McConnell, CBF moderator from 2013-2014 and current member of the Governing Board, spoke of his work alongside Paynter to restructure the governance of CBF in the wake of the 2012 Task Force Report.

“During my year chairing the new Governing Board I watched Suzii’s gifts for planning and organization lead the Fellowship through the changes required by the report. I remain impressed and thankful to this day in my second term on the Governing Board for her gifts, hard work and leadership. I have been able to watch her perform her responsibilities in person for almost her entire tenure. She has truly been a blessing to CBF and to me personally.

Kasey Jones, the CBF moderator from 2014-2015 and now CBF’s Associate Coordinator of Strategic Operations and Outreach, said it was “tremendous to witness and experience a woman leading a global Baptist body.”

“While discerning my call to ministry, I recognized that not having an image of a woman preacher limited my ability to see myself as preacher,” Jones said. “I applaud CBF for increasing the imagination of girls by calling Suzii Paynter as its leader. She has lead with grace, charm, intellect and boldness. We are and will be better off because of her.”

Immediate past moderator Shauw Chin Capps said Paynter’s leadership has strengthened CBF.

“In the years that Suzii has been at the helm of CBF, she has served with courage, integrity and a focus that has led to a stronger and healthier organization,” Capps said. “Suzii has provided us with a sound foundation to propel CBF into God’s future. Those of us who attended General Assembly this year witnessed it, felt it and knew in our hearts of hearts the undeniable presence and movement of the Holy Spirit at work within our Fellowship.”

Doug Dortch, senior minister of Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., and CBF moderator from 2016-2017, said Paynter has led CBF to be a more faithful and unified body.

“Suzii Paynter arrived at CBF with a vision to lead our fellowship to become the preeminent Baptist voice in contemporary culture,” Dortch said. “She has done so through her deep faith, immense wisdom, and servant spirit. When we look back at Suzii’s tenure, we should be impressed at how she guided us through a major organizational restructuring in governance and mission that has positioned us to be nimble enough to respond to both opportunities and challenges in ways that have made us stronger.”

Matt Cook, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wilmington, N.C. and moderator from 2015-2016, also spoke about the impact of Paynter’s leadership.

“She combines strength and tenacity with grace and great wisdom,” Cook said. “Personally, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside her, and I believe her tenure will leave a deep and lasting legacy on the Fellowship.”

Search committee

A search committee from across the Fellowship has formed to select the right person to be CBF’s next executive coordinator. The committee’s work will begin in August.

Members are:

  • Courtney Allen, senior pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.
  • Shauw Chin Capps, member, The Baptist Church of Beaufort, Beaufort, S.C.
  • Juan Garcia, pastor, Primera Iglesia Bautista, Newport News, Va.
  • Rev. Jennifer Hawks, member, McLean Baptist Church, McLean, Va.
  • Emmanuel McCall, pastor, First Baptist Church, East Point, Ga.
  • Jackie Baugh Moore, member, Woodland Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas
  • (Chair) Jeff Roberts, senior pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Chris Sanders, member, Ridgewood Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.
  • Steve Wells, pastor, South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
  • *Stephen Cook, senior pastor, Second Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn., ex officio
  • *Gary Dollar, member, Dayspring Baptist Church, St. Louis, Mo., ex officio

A Conversation on Future Faith

Sojourners will be hosting a conversation at the end of next week, Friday at 11:30-1:00 on April 20th,   on Wes Granberg-Michaelson new book, Future Faith. The book explores the winds of change blowing through American Christianity, offering suggestions and challenges for the American church as the Christian faith becomes increasingly global and diverse. Wes’ perspective on these issues, and how the church can respond to the demands of the 21stcentury, is especially poignant and insightful for all who see the importance of the role for the churches—especially at a time like this.

The event, held at Sojourners’ offices (408 C ST NE) on Friday, April 20th, from 11:30am-1:00pm, will feature a panel discussion with several prominent international church leaders. Hana Kim, pastor of Myungsung Presbyterian Church in Seoul, South Korea, and Casely Essamuah, Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, will feature on the panel alongside Wes and myself. Adelle Banks, reporter for Religion News Service, will be moderating the conversation.

We are looking forward to this event as a thoughtful and important discussion of issues faced by the American church, and would be honored for you to join us in this conversation. Lunch will be provided, and you will receive a copy ofFuture Faith to take home.

For more details and to RSVP, please go here. Please feel free to forward the invitation to anyone you think would be interested in this conversation.

World Vision Celebration Sunday

Hundreds of churches like yours will be joining together on May 20 to love and serve children in need. You can lead your church to live out their faith in a very practical way by joining Celebration Sunday — an easy and impactful way to unite people in your church to minister to those Jesus called “these brothers and sisters of mine.”

Watch this video to see how easy it is to be part of something so powerful!

Join in this global day of action and lead your church in a hope-filled response to the greatest needs of our day. Learn how this event can help you disciple and engage your entire church body.

Church Members Advocating for Poor and Hungry People

Bread for the World’s 2018 Offering of Letters invites local churches and Christian people across the country to urge their members of Congress to protect funding for programs that help hungry and poor people in our country and around the world.  People who want to engage their local church in advocacy will find an array of resources athttp://www.bread.org/get-2018-offering-letters-toolkit – sample letters, fact sheets, prayers, and Bible-study and sermon ideas.  Some of these resources – attractive bulletin inserts, for example – are available in printed form. Constituent communications are a powerful complement to the advocacy of national church leaders, and the involvement of Christians in advocacy is a way for Christian leaders to teach people that work for justice is an important aspect of discipleship.


Cooperative Batist Fellowship launches McCall Racial Justice, Leadership Initiative

Louisville, Ky. — Creating ways for God’s imperfect church to move toward unity between racially diverse communities is the focus of a new initiative named to honor the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel McCall, a trailblazer who has spent much of his life working for racial justice – as a student, denominational leader, pastor, author and scholar.

McCall is currently pastor of the First Baptist Church of East Point, Ga. From 1970-1996, he served as a visiting faculty member at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During this time, he developed the Black Church Studies program that was used by three Southern Baptist seminaries. He was an adjunct professor at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology from 1996 to 2016.

To stave off racial tensions during the 1960s, Dr. McCall was part of a pioneering team of African-American and Anglo pastors who intentionally met regularly in Louisville to read, study and pray together. Because of the forward thinking and action of these clergy, the rise of racial conflict was limited in their community.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship launched the Dr. Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative on Feb. 12 at a press event on the campus of Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically black college in Louisville.

During the launch event, McCall looked back to this collaboration he and former Crescent Hill Baptist pastor John Claypool began in the 1960s around racial justice.

Across racial lines, in the 1960s,  “we formed an Interracial Baptist Pastors Conference, and we tackled the racial problem in Louisville. We didn’t want to see happen in Louisville what was happening around the South. …  This conference of more than 800 of us were able to move through those years of the 60s. … Everything that spoke of racism we tackled and the Lord allowed us to be successful.”

McCall joined CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and leaders of two African-American denominations, as well as the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church and president of Simmons College of Kentucky, to build on an existing partnership among the organizations and to launch this innovative initiative.

On hand for the launch event were Dr. David Cassady, president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky; the Rev. Dr. Sam Tolbert, President of National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.; and the Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter is pleased McCall is working with CBF in such a vital endeavor.

“Dr. McCall has spent a lifetime inspiring action out of his own commitment to racial reconciliation,” Paynter said. “I’m excited to have such a great leader in Dr. McCall work alongside CBF to create opportunities for courageous African American men and women to lead.”

The McCall Initiative encourages churches and individuals to contribute financially to CBF’s racial justice and leadership work and to participate in creating church-to-church “Covenant of Action” agreements through the New Baptist Covenant, identifying ways to use CBF’s Advocacy Toolkit to empower churches to further racial justice efforts, forming racial justice Peer Learning Groups and developing a church renewal experience around racial justice.

To give to the McCall Initiative, visit www.cbf.net/mccallinitiative.

Chruches’ Responses to Parklands Shooting

Click on link to open PDF

Churches’ Responses to Parklands Shooting

IPHC Historic Merger in Chile

Sunday night, Feb. 4, was a historic evening in Santiago, Chile, with the official merger of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) and the First Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile, along with the mother church, the Evangelical Cathedral (Jotabeche Church). With several hundred thousand members primarily in Chile, the IPHC global membership for the first time is more than 2 million members. The Jotabeche church, one of the largest in the world with an estimated one hundred thousand members, is now the largest IPHC congregation in the world. This Chilean denomination and congregation are the foundation of Pentecostalism in Chile that began in 1909.

Following 51 years of affiliation which began in 1967, the two denominations have experienced excellent relationships that have mutually enhanced their ministries. The 1967 agreement was led by Bishop J.A. Synan, Dr. Vinson Synan, and Dr. R.O. Corvin from the United States, and Bishop Vasquez from Chile.


Read more HERE

Archimandrite Symeonides Elected Metropolitan of Chicago



NEW YORK – The Holy and Sacred Synod of Ecumenical Patriarchate elected unanimously today the Very Reverend Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides as Metropolitan of Chicago.

Immediately following the election, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America stated:

“I express my wholehearted congratulations on the election of Very Reverend Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides as Metropolitan of Chicago, wishing the abundant blessing of God on the sacred ministry the Church has entrusted him with. The newly-elected Metropolitan has served as Deacon, Priest and Director of the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations for a number of years, and I am certain that he shall apply his experience and the gifts God endowed him with for a fruitful ministry in the service of the devout Greek Orthodox flock of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago.”

Action Alert Migration Campaign/Share the Journey

In the coming week, Congress is expected to finalize our national budget. We have an urgent request on behalf of families around the world struggling to overcome poverty and those who are forced to migrate.

Pope Francis calls on you to “reach out, open your arms to immigrants and refugees and share their journey.”

Please heed the Holy Father’s call and ask your members of Congress to support migrant families here in the United States and around the world.

Why now? More than at any time in our history, our brothers and sisters are leaving their homes and everything they know. They are in search of safety, stability and a better future for themselves and their families.

As we prepare ourselves for the season of Advent, let us come together to care for those so desperately in need of assistance.

Take this opportunity to walk with your neighbor in their journey and speak up for those seeking to be welcomed.

If you care about the poor let your legislators know

Christian leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity are concerned that the tax bill being considered in Congress will cause harm to people in poverty. Below are statements from leaders of the Circle of Protection. The statements follow a letter the Circle of Protection sent to members of Congress recently. It reads in part: As Christian leaders, the concern is always about how legislation impacts the poor and most vulnerable. We will continue to pray, mobilize, and advocate on behalf of our neighbors in poverty.

We encourage you to contact you US Representative and Senators. It is critical that they hear your concerns during November 27-30.The senate will take a vote by the end of next week.

What Christian Leaders are Saying About the Tax Bill

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Because tax policy is far-reaching, Congress must provide ample time for Americans to discuss the complexities of these reforms and fully understand their effects. The current timetable does not provide adequate time for that discussion. In many ways, this legislation is unacceptable in its present form and requires amendment. It must be changed for the sake of families—the bedrock of our country—and for those struggling on the peripheries of society who have a claim on our national conscience.”

National Council of Churches: “The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended. The National Council of Churches reminds us that our lawmakers have a responsibility to care for the entire citizenry, not just those with the means to influence tax policy.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals: “Doing taxes right is really good. Let’s encourage Congress to take the time to get tax reform right–helping the poor and reducing the debt are high biblical priorities. And, providing an above-the-line charitable deduction to all taxpayers will go a long way to keeping America charitable.”

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African American Clergy Network: “The National African American Clergy Network is deeply concerned that historic Republican commitments to reducing deficits are being abandoned in adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt by taking life-sustaining programs from poor and working Americans. We suggest that Congress take the time to shape a bi-partisan tax reform measure that grows the economy by providing education and training for lower skilled and non-skilled workers, thus stabilizing families and communities economically.”

Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners: “The tax code is a moral document, a social contract on how we are going to do our part in sharing our resources with our communities, our neighbors, and those most in need. We are told by Jesus that we will be judged not by our profit margins, our corporate tax rates, or our repeal of healthcare, but how we treat the poor, the sick, and the most vulnerable in society. The tax bill currently under consideration in the Senate fails that moral test on all accounts.”

David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World: “The spirit of the season is sharing. But tax cuts for high-income people that are funded with deficit spending will almost certainly lead to deep cuts in Medicaid, SNAP, and other programs that help people living in poverty. The same budget resolution that permits $1.5 trillion in deficit spending for tax cuts outlines more than $2 trillion in cuts to low-income programs.”

John Ashmen, President, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions: “By and large, the 300 member organizations in the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions are pleased that the House’s tax reform bill and the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal provide financial relief for many working Americans and the incentive for new business opportunities. At the same time, we are concerned that outlined cuts to programs like Medicaid and SNAP would cause many of our most vulnerable citizens to join the hundreds of thousands already seeking life-sustaining services at faith-based ministries like rescue missions. Of equal concern is the likelihood that the proposed tax simplification plans—without something like a universal charitable contribution amendment in the final bill—will disincentive giving to nonprofits. The possibility of more people in need and fewer contributions to charities that are making a real difference could bring about a crisis for which the government is not prepared.”

Rev. Noel Castellanos, President, Christian Community Development Association: “Christian Community Development Association is an organization of over a thousand ministries across the nation focused on mobilizing residents in under-served neighborhoods to overcome poverty and to restore healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. We are concerned that the tax bill, currently being considered in the Senate, will devastate not only many individuals, but families, and entire communities.”

Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church: “The Episcopal Church supports efforts to reform our tax system and to ensure the ability of the government to pay its bills and deliver the programs and charitable services the people of this nation rely on. The current proposals, developed though partisan backroom negotiations, will result in reduced funding for critical public goods, increased deficits, and leave behind many of the most vulnerable Americans. We encourage Congress to develop bipartisan reforms that will ensure we can fully fund programs that provide for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and needy as the Gospels command.”

Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together: “The moral and ethical principles that have guided our country always impelled us to contribute and to sacrifice for the common good. A country where the vast majority claim to be Christian must heed the words of scripture: ‘There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.’ (Deut. 15:11) A tax reform that falls short of lifting up the poor in the land is an affront against our Creator. God has blessed our country with wealth beyond measure. We call on the U.S. Congress to enact a tax reform that prioritizes and lifts up the poor in our country.”

Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA: “While we recognize the efforts to simplify the tax code and grow the economy, the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces or eliminates tax programs that are vital to low-income individuals and families and are critical to fostering family economic and opportunity. CCUSA urges Congress to take this opportunity to make meaningful investments so that families are supported, programs helping individuals who are poor or vulnerable are funded, and our nation’s faith-based and nonprofit organizations are assisted in their response to community needs.” (Letter to Congress, November 7, 2017)

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation: “The massive tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations in the current tax reform bill before Congress would increase the deficit by a whopping $1.5 trillion. This giveaway will imperil the long-term fiscal health of our country and undermine future funding for critical programs. This tax reform proposal is being rushed through Congress without full scrutiny by congressional offices or the people of our country whose welfare is directly affected. The people of the United States— low and middle-income households—are looking for opportunity. Sadly, this bill will do more to hurt those families than to help them. When fully implemented, the Senate bill raises taxes on households making less than $75,000, increasing the tax burden for those with incomes between $20,000 and $30,000 by a staggering 25 percent. This bill does not serve those who government should help first. Making the rich get richer at the expense of families struggling just to get by weakens our society and harms people who want government to work for everyone.”