One of the great gifts of being a Baptist like we are at First on Fifth is our healthy cooperation with other Baptist churches within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It affords us meaningful relationships that stretch across borders of all kinds to weave a new beloved community, one that partners together to renew God’s world. Whether we’re joining hands with Baptists in Texas to sponsor David and Lauren Bass in Cambodia or putting our resources to work here in North Carolina to create a number of scholarships for seminarians, we give thanks for the depth and length, height and breadth that these partnerships give us for God’s work of Love in the world.

Last weekend was filled with those kinds of moments for me! Worshiping, learning, and fellowshiping with this crew you see to your right for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC) and Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina (BWIMNC) annual gatherings were rich in meaning this year, and our members were looked to time and time again to lead our Baptist family. Larry & Kim Hovis, Linda Jones, and Mary Kaylor brought their tireless energies to bringing this annual gathering to life, especially celebratory in its 25th year. Ka’thy Gore Chappell as executive director and Amy McClure as board member called us to become in the annual BWIMNC worship service — another anniversary marking 35 years of equipping and empowering women for ministry. Charlotte Cook Smith was honored with the Anne Thomas Neil Mentor Award of BWIMNC. Mary Foskett, Chris Gambill, and I offered leadership in workshops throughout the day. Kaylee Godfrey was a leadership scholar filled with all sorts of tasks for the weekend. And Scott Hudgins was announced as the new director of the $1M grant from the Lilly Foundation to CBFNC called “Helping Pastors Thrive”! We worshiped and learned together with our Baptist family, we delighted in hearing about the Spirit’s movement all around the state, and we left renewed.

The next night, a good many of us gathered in Kelly Auditorium for “Becoming Baxley,” a deeply moving conversation about life and faith with John, Nancy, and Paul Baxley. They shared with us about the threads of their family and, in his new role as executive coordinator for CBF Global, Paul told us about our Baptist family. For such a time as this, when our relationships fracture and fray with the latest outrage of the moment, how deeply we need the holy binding that cooperating together gives us! Thanks be to God for our greater Baptist tapestry!

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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