Fellowship to gather in Fort Worth to vote on future, say farewell to Vestal

By Lance Wallace
Friday, May 18, 2012
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ATLANTA – The 22nd annual Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly June 20-23 in Fort Worth features an important vote on the 2012 Task Force report and the final sermon from Daniel Vestal as executive coordinator.

More than 1,500 Fellowship Baptists are expected to attend the Assembly which will include an evening of musical celebration June 20 at Broadway Baptist Church with singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer.

“Anyone involved in local church ministry knows the difference between those events that are important because of an attractive program or charismatic personality and those events that are strategic for the future,” said out-going executive coordinator and Fort Worth-native, Daniel Vestal.

“This is one of those times when our annual Assembly is very strategic for CBF’s future mission. In fact, I believe it is one of the most significant gatherings we have had in a number of years. It’s one of those years when as a Fellowship we will be discerning and deciding how to be more effective in our shared ministry.”

The CBF General Assembly is the largest annual meeting of moderate Baptists in the United States. Based in Atlanta, Ga., the Fellowship emerged from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1991, and now has more than 1,800 partnering congregations and 3,000 individual members across the United States. The Fellowship also supports 15 schools of theology with more than 2,000 students. Its global missions effort includes 135 field personnel, and CBF has 635 endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors. The larger Fellowship Baptist community is made up of the national Fellowship and 18 other autonomous state and regional CBF organizations.

Appointed in 2010 by then-moderator Hal Bass, the 2012 Task Force has spent the last two years conducting more than 100 listening sessions, synthesizing the feedback into a series of recommendations for changes to the governance and ministry structures of the Fellowship. The final draft of the report is available at www.thefellowship.info/2012taskforce.

“I believe this is important – life-changing important,” said Ruth Perkins Lee, vice chair of the 2012 Task Force. “We have 20 years of amazing shared history. The experiences as well as the stories continue to be formative. We have been moving forward since our birth, and I believe this allows us to continue to do so.”

The Assembly will vote on a proposed $12.4 million budget for fiscal year 2012-2013, which would take effect Oct. 1, and a slate of officers that includes Bill McConnell, a Knoxville businessman and lay leader at Central Baptist Church Bearden, as moderator-elect, and Renee Bennett of Macon, Ga., as recorder. Colleen Burroughs, vice president of Passport Inc. based in Birmingham, Ala., will become immediate-past moderator and pass the gavel of leadership to Keith Herron, pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., who will become moderator at the conclusion of the Assembly.

Other highlights include the following:

• Missions Field Personnel Commissioning Service – Turning its focus to God's mission in the world, the Fellowship will commission five new field personnel as well as three church planters to ministry in the United States and around the world.
• Leadership Institute – “Fixin’ Church: Finding a Way Forward in Crazy Times” will run from 1 to 4 p.m., June 20. It will explore practical ways to live more faithfully and lead your church to a renewed identity in Christ.
• Prayer Retreat – “The Questions God Asks” features South African pastor Trevor Hudson and Bo Prosser, coordinator of missional congregations at CBF. This event will precede General Assembly and will be at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House just 45 miles northeast of Fort Worth.

Learn more at www.thefellowship.info/assembly. Media credentials are being issued through the CBF Communications office. Contact Lance Wallace at lwallace@thefellowship.info with your name, contact information and media outlet to be considered for credentials.

CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

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