ATLANTA — Cooperative Baptists heard from the Fellowship’s two top-elected leaders during the Friday business session of the 2017 General Assembly.
“If you believe that we can do more together than any of us can do by herself or himself, if that’s a value for you, then we are your people,” Dortch said. “If you believe that this world in which we live, play and do faith is not nearly the world that God created, but God still loves it and sent Jesus to redeem it and our calling is to come together, then we are your people. If you look around and see the injustices that exist…and you want to see what we can do together to give folks more opportunities to become the people that God has created them to be, then we are your people.
“If you believe in cooperation, you are one of us. If you care about what it means to be Baptist and you’re willing to contend for our Baptist heritage in a day when people are running from the label, then we are your people. If you have been embarrassed by the rigidity and hypercritical-ness of others who bear the Baptist label and you want to offer the world a more compassionate, more winsome view of what it means to be a Baptist Christian, then we are your people. If you believe in strengthening those fragile freedoms and then holding them up as a viable way to be Baptist, you are one of us….If you believe in fellowship, community, koinonia, you are one of us.”
“It is because of the Great Commission that my journey took the path it did,” Capps said. “This is my story of the importance of God’s beloved community. My life is just one story of the impact of the work of global missions. I think often of all the CBF missionaries across the world living out the Great Commission every day and thank God for all the lives impacted. Each life has an incredible story to tell. Throughout my journey, God’s gracious community has been offered to me by so many Baptist ministers, professors and friends. It is at this big table of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that all these individuals sit and for that I am eternally grateful.
“I realize that there are many issues around the table of CBF that have the potential to divide us. I also realize that institutions are difficult to navigate in these divisive times. I do believe that CBF’s vision of a big table can serve us well in such a time. Why the importance of a big table? I’m no theologian or Biblical scholar, but I have a feeling that when Jesus said to ‘go and make disciples of all nations,’ he really meant all.
“I was welcomed by God’s beloved community at every turn in my faith journey. Where I stood on issues did not matter and I’m glad it didn’t because I’ve changed, I’ve grown and I continue to grow. The safe space to just be who God desires me to be matters a great deal. Will CBF be that sacred space for so many in our world yearning to be loved, to be accepted, to be healed, to be heard?”
Capps challenged those at this “big table” to always be compelled by Christ to be a movement of Christ that is always widening the table and cultivating beloved community through ministry and mission.
“My dream as your next moderator is a simple one and it comes from 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.’ So my dream is that all of us around the CBF table will be compelled by the love of Christ to live transformed lives in service to Christ, one another and the world. I would like to see us set tables of ‘Beloved Communities’ wherever and whenever we have the opportunity so that we can draw more and more people into the circle of God’s love and grace.
“I would like CBF to always be compelled by God’s love as we make decisions about our future, never by fear. And I want us to put our money where our mouth is….My beloved friends and family called CBF, let us live out the essence of our faith, first and foremost. Let us love much and love well. Let us incarnate the love of God. Let us be ambassadors for a world where all have a seat at the table. CBF stands at a moment in history where our world desperately needs to be invited to a love feast. In our increasingly divisive world, lines are drawn so quickly to shut others out based on political parties, religious affiliations, race, gender, sexual orientation, and the list goes on.
“I hope that the only line we will draw is the one that draws people into God’s beloved community wherever and whoever they are. I am humbled to serve as your next Moderator and look forward to drawing circles of love with you, because Christ’s love compels us.”