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.
“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.”
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.
- 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