Living the questions and trying to think theologically... and practically. Learning that these things are more synonymous than I once thought.

Location: Dallas, TX

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A New Kind of Baptist?

At least for now it seems the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Grapevine, TX will go down as one of those special landmarks in my life. I didn’t know much about CBF going into the convention, but I really liked all I saw and observed there. The first thing that struck me as I entered was the number of young people. (We’ll classify young as under 40). This group was in no way the majority, but it definitely had a presence in the convention. I wasn’t so sure that people of my generation were all that concerned with denominationalism, and after being burned, I wasn’t so sure I’d ever really be able to work in a denomination, or even be Baptist anymore. The CBF gave me hope. From what I can tell, and from what one of the founders, Daniel Vestal said, this group of believers is concerned about global poverty, and they are approaching it as the biggest moral issue of our time. I agree. I had the privilege of being there for the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter offering for Human Rights. The best part of the convention was seeing three couples from Truett being commissioned to work with internationals in L.A., Paris, and South Africa. I cried knowing that I was a part of their community, that my seminary is sending people out into the world to serve in such capacities, and that in a few years it could be me.

I also sat in on a session about the emerging church. I wanted to see if the CBF had their facts straight and might possibly support an emerging church plant. Verdict: the conference speaker seemed to be well read, in the know, and supportive of the values and forms of the emerging church. However, the folks in the room who actually asked questions, seemed to be completely confused with the whole idea of the emerging church. Of course, they were all white males, over fifty, and thoroughly modern. What was encouraging? Instead of calling the emerging church “a threat to the gospel”, they listened to the speaker and what he had to say. They asked what seemed like thoughtful questions. The speaker asked if anyone had been to any emergent gatherings, and I raised my hand. The group listened attentively to me, a young southern woman, talk about my experience and heart for the emerging church. I even got to help answer some of their questions. I felt valued and affirmed.

During worship and business sessions, women and men participated equally in the leadership. Minorities also had a voice in the leadership. These things did a lot to win me over. I also made some fabulous new friends, and built deeper relationship with folks from Truett . (I'll post a picture when I get it.) We realize that we are the future of Baptists in America, and it is our job to remind the world that Baptists are good people. Maybe we’ll be a “new kind of Baptists” or maybe, and more likely, we’ll get back to the old kind of Baptists, champions of religious liberty, believers in freedom, and compassionate people who care more about loving people than proving to the world we are right.


Blogger Sam Davidson said...


7:13 AM  
Blogger Vernon Bowen said...

Wow, what a stirring ending to your post. I'm glad the convention was so inspiring for you. Your heart really speaks out, girl. Speaking of speaking out, I need you to educate me on the emerging church sometime this summer. I am getting more and more interested in it, and would like to have someone just kinda sit down and talk with me about it - it is a "conversation," isn't it. Okay, well, have a great day.

7:27 PM  

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