What a privilege it was to host CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter at UBC last weekend! Suzii arrived Saturday evening from Atlanta and met with fifteen Baptist pastors at a dinner gathering held at the home of Debra Bryant and Larry Groves. Pastors from as far away as Harrisonburg, Orange, Madison, Scottsville, and Buena Vista braved the cold weather to have a chance to spend an evening with Suzii and hear about the developments at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. At the end of the gathering, Rev. Bryon LePere, pastor of Buena Vista Baptist, joked that UBC should cancel worship so that Suzii could go and preach at his church instead!
Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we were able to have church. Suzii reminded us in worship of the words preached by Jesus that spoke of good news to the poor, the recovery of sight to the blind, and the freeing of captives and the oppressed. These challenging words in many ways have become the guiding principles of what it means to be a Cooperative Baptist.
At the after-worship luncheon, Suzii enumerated the ways in which CBF is committed to sharing the Good News. 100% of our mission offerings and 54 cents of any additional dollars received by CBF are channeled toward missions. CBF has made a 20-year commitment to work alongside twenty of the poorest counties in the U.S. CBF partners with many other organizations to advocate for the Roma and other oppressed people groups.
Suzii is just one of many leaders that I’ve invited to speak as part of our “Lent is for Listening” theme. These leaders represent groups that receive money from UBC’s budget. For instance, John Upton, last Wednesday’s speaker, represents both Virginia Baptists and the Baptist World Alliance. This Wednesday, we’ll hear from Blake Tommey, the director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries at UVA. I hope their presentations will deepen our relationship with our mission partners and inform us about how our contributions are being used to spread the good news of Christ throughout the world.