CAPE GIRARDEAU — Host pastor Mike Shupert challenged attendees at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri General Assembly at First Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau, April 27-28 to embrace both unity and diversity in their service to Christ.
"God made us for community," Shupert said during an opening-night worship service that featured his congregation’s choir, handbells and worship leaders.
"The health and well-being of the church depends not on the sameness of its members but their diversity," he said, and as one body models for the world the love of God.
The service featured a presentation by Bob Hamblin, longtime William Faulkner Scholar at Southeastern Missouri State University, as he portrayed the late Baptist civil rights champion Clarence Jordan of Koinonia Farm in Americus, Ga.
Started in 1942 and including both black and white farmers as full partners, the community faced threats and violence during the Civil Rights Movement. Today, it focuses upon Christian peacemaking in the world.
Attendees also conducted business, heard reports during a missional banquet and performed volunteer service for community causes on Saturday morning.
During a business session, attendees:
• approved a 2012-2013 ministry plan budget of $200,800;
• learned that Associate Coordinator Jeff Langford will begin a five-week sabbatical in early July working with his wife and three sons in Matthew House ministries to refugees in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada;
• elected Michael Olmsted of Springfield as vice-moderator. Kathy Pickett of Kansas City is the new moderator, succeeding Bruce Gentry of Cape Girardeau, while Mike McKinney of Leawood, Kan., is the moderator-elect. Tyler Tankersley of Liberty will serve as recorder and Charles Cantrell of Mountain View as treasurer.
At the missional banquet, CBFers heard reports from:
• CBF-commissioned missionaries Sasha and Mira Zivanov about their efforts to reach Bosnian refugees in St. Louis through a food pantry and other contacts.
• Bob and Joyce Barker of Republic, who have coordinated CBF volunteers during the past year in tornado-ravaged Joplin. Bob said the next phase will include working through an umbrella organization to fund and construct modest homes in conjunction with the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga.
• Gwen Phillips of Liberty described her work on a team of volunteers working with the Roma people in Slovakia. Gentry described his experience teaching at the Gypsy Smith School for pastors in Bucharest, Romania.
• Amy Derrick from the national CBF office in Atlanta, who coordinates the Student.Go program that places college students in neglected areas of the United States and the world. She praised CBFMO’s commitment to provide supplemental stipends to participants from Missouri.
On the final morning of the general assembly meeting, volunteers donned matching tee-shirts emblazoned with the meeting’s theme, "Called Together," and engaged in local service projects.
Some painted bowls to be glazed and then used to raise funds locally to help the Cape Girardeau Salvation Army. Another set of volunteers loaded sacks for distribution at the organization’s food pantry.
Others did painting and landscaping cleanup at Love Inc., a Christian ministry to people in need. Yet another group went to the SEMO Baptist Student Center and cleaned up the grounds.
Still others packed CARE boxes to be distributed to SEMO students during upcoming finals week.