Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Heartland installed new coordinator Jeff Langford and celebrated the 25th anniversary of national CBF during its fall assembly Oct. 21 at First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, Mo.
The crowd also welcomed CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter.
The one-day event included a dinner with a comedic roast of accordion-playing former CBF Heartland Coordinator Harold Philips, who led the organization from 1996-2015.
Langford started the role as coordinator in January after working for CBF Heartland since 2004. The evening service included a responsive reading affirming Langford’s call to lead and a time of prayer over Langford by CBF pastors and leaders.
In his brief remarks, Langford called the evening “very personally meaningful.”
“I am so grateful for how you participated, offering voices, your prayers, your support for me,” Langford told the assembly.
“When we are in fellowship, your joy is the same as our joy. In the fellowship, ‘our’ and ‘your’ are interchangeable in all the right ways. When we are in fellowship, we worship the same God, we serve the same Lord and we share the same joy. Thank you for sharing in that joy tonight.”
Paynter delivered the sermon for the evening service, focusing her remarks on remembering CBF’s 25 years of ministry and outlining visions for the future. In 2013, Paynter became CBF’s third executive coordinator.
“The strength of our Fellowship is in our aspirations and in our authenticity of friendship and our common purpose and mission,” she declared.
“The strength of our Fellowship has been reverberating in our outward connections, our willingness to partner, our willingness to be friends, our willingness for ecumenical ventures, interfaith ventures, friendships across the larger Christian community with positive collegiality.
“The miraculous and beautiful manifestation of tomorrow’s faith resides in us,” she added. “Chances are authentic faith for tomorrow won’t be found in Disneyland or Universal Studios or its ecclesiastical equivalents. Just as in times past, the miraculous and beautiful manifestation of tomorrow’s faithful church will be echoed in the cadences of 20 and 5: Matthew 25.”
Paynter argued such a focus “compelled by love” has defined the “journey” of CBF “from our founding, through our forming, into our future.” She believes that “this context we’re living in right now of objectification, of hate, of despair” creates a need for “a radical message and a simple call to bring compelling love, compassion and humaneness to bear everywhere.”
“CBF churches are responding to their communities with life-changing — if not always headline-making — ministry,” Paynter added. “I’m very sure that the church will grow from the seeds that are here right now, and there’s good soil that these seeds are in right now.”
CBF Heartland’s fall assembly also included several breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including collegiate ministry, CBF global missions, biblical teachings on dreams, learning from other cultures and fighting “Missouri’s payday loan scourge.”
The evening ended with cake celebrating CBF’s 25th anniversary.