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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vestal: CBF Exists to Further Mission of God

The General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship officially kicked off today at the Memphis/Cook County Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

The annual assembly began by commissioning 18 people to global missions service. You can read more about that event here.

Daniel Vestal, Coordinator of the CBF, delivered a message titled "Discerning Together." Here's the text and audio from that address.

And here are a few paragraphs from that keynote:
Discerning the Past: The Providence and Presence of God
1. Perhaps a good place to start would be to remember, rehearse and recite what we have experienced and reflect on the providence and presence of God in our shared story.
  • This morning Harriet did a remarkable job in reminding us of the past 17 years in CBF
  • There are times when I can hardly believe what has happened and how God has blessed us.
  • But let me suggest that discerning needs to reach beyond those 17 years.
2. The reason Cecil Sherman’s book is so important is not that it is just a personal memoir but it is an historical record that chronicles our beginning.
  • It is, I believe, important for us to acknowledge our roots in order to give thanks to God that, “through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come.” Some would like to ignore our heritage, others reject it, and still others would like to re-interpret or revise it to fit their own prejudices.
  • I suggest we embrace it for what it was and is, a mixture of good and bad and then thank God for his providence and presence in it.
3. Why is this important?
  • Because we cannot discern the present and future without reflecting on the past.
  • There are some among us who would like to “reproduce the past, i.e. to make CBF into the image of a reorganized SBC.”
  • There are others among us who would like to forget the past, i.e. to make CBF “exnihilo” as if it had no connection to history or heritage.
  • There are some who would like CBF to have little or no organizational structure and simply collect and distribute money to institutions with no connectionalism.
  • There are some who would like for CBF to become an all encompassing denomination giving identity to individuals and congregations.
  • There are others whose vision for CBF is simply to be a missionary-sending society or to be subsumed into some other Baptist organization.
4. Whatever CBF becomes will be determined by Providence. But my understanding of Providence is that we are asked to make decisions that have real consequences.

*picture courtesy of CBF (www.thefellowship.info)

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