MC USA celebrates historic installation of Glen Guyton, first African-American ED

8.27. 2018 Written By: Mennonite Church USA

Glen Guyton was installed as executive director of Mennonite Church USA on Aug. 18 at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana. The service celebrated the beginning of his tenure as ED, which began May 1.

Guyton is the first African-American to serve as executive director of MC USA. His installation marks a significant moment in the denomination’s history.

Bishop L.W. Francisco III and Titus Peachey, two spiritual leaders whom Guyton credits as teaching him what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian, led parts of the installation. Peachey reflected on walking with Guyton as he discerned a decision to leave the military as a conscientious objector.

“It is a profound act of faith and discipleship to speak and act on the powerful truth of the gospel growing inside you, in the midst of the hierarchy and culture of a powerful military system,” said Peachey. “But God’s Spirit and the wider church community gave you the courage to stand on your faith and persist.”

“I can’t think of anything more truly Anabaptist,” he said.

Francisco, pastor of Calvary Community Church, Hampton, Virginia, where Guyton initially joined the Mennonite church in 1993, led the installation charge.

“I believe Glen was fashioned for such a time as this. His life’s journey has equipped and prepared him for this assignment,” said Bishop Francisco. “We must participate alongside our new executive director. He and the staff cannot do it alone. We did not call him to do our job. We did not call him to do our ministry. We called him to seek the heart of God. We called him to bring us back to a place of revival.”

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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 at – 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

Chruches’ Responses to Parklands Shooting

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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.


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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.