FBCX and CBF, Part I: The Illumination Project
We were honored to have Suzii Paynter with us this week to celebrate Baptist Heritage Sunday. Suzii is Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, our primary partner in missions and Baptist identity. I thought I would take her visit as invitation to spend the next few weeks using this column to lift our church’s relationship with CBF and address current conversations within the Fellowship.
Our congregation has been intimately involved in CBF since its formation some 25 years ago. It’s been several years since we made the decision to direct all of our cooperative missions giving to CBF, both national and our state organization. This means that unless you indicate you’d like it used otherwise, 6.67% of every contribution we receive for our general fund is split evenly between CBF and CBF of Georgia.
Suzii was also kind enough to join Jody (the new executive coordinator of CBFGA), and I in a conversation about CBF during the Sunday school hour. We touched on many things, including the emergence and strength of young leaders in CBF, CBF’s emphasis on resourcing congregations for “advocacy” (helping them address systemic issues in their communities while also providing direct care for the most vulnerable), and the Illumination Project.
The Illumination Project is CBF’s initiative to address human sexuality, specifically as it relates to CBF’s hiring policy. The hiring policy, which was established in the year 2000, currently prohibits CBF from hiring LGBT people.
The conversation about matters of inclusion and human sexuality is of course one we know well here at First Baptist. We know the complexities and the tenderness, but also the ways the Holy Spirit can work and move through theses processes. We haven’t talked much about the Illumination Project this past year, mostly because we’ve had our noses down in our own conversations about sexuality, but I and several others within our congregation who keep close ties with CBF have been following closely.
After over a year of study and several hundred conversations across the Fellowship, the Illumination Project Committee is to submit their recommendations to the CBF Governing Board at the end of this week.
I’ll report back more next week once the report is made public, and also let you know about our Lenten initiative to support the offering to CBF Global Missions. Hint: it involves some envelopes…