HOUSTON – More than 1,600 attended the 2009 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly July 2-3 in Houston, Texas, including 194 from North Carolina.
More than 130 CBF endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors and their spouses attended a luncheon featuring speaker Doug Dickens, professor of pastoral studies at Gardner-Webb University. Dickens talked about his journey alongside his wife, Patsy, as she battled and died from ovarian cancer.
“I want to tell you a little of what I’ve learned because maybe it will be helpful to you,” he said.
“As chaplains and pastoral counselors, their stories touch us,” Dickens said. “And as we walk from room to room, it is so easy to allow their sadness and hurt and our sadness and hurt to become toxic. It affects not just our ministry but our whole selves. And, we know that burnout is not limited to pastors.”
During one session Nancy Campbell of Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care in Lenoir was among three chaplains who led in worship, after which the audience responded with a standing ovation in recognition of the vital ministries of chaplains and pastoral counselors.
Ralph and Tammy Stocks, who serve among the Romany people in Hungary, and Greg and Sue Smith, who serve among the Latino community in Fredericksburg, Va., shared a story of partnership and friendship.
Last summer, Latino youth from Virginia traveled to Hungary to lead activities and Bible study for Romany children.
“Part of the attraction of these two cultures to one another was the common experience of living as minorities,” said Tammy Stocks.
“Through the language of music and a love for God that was extended and received, they shared for a week a neighborhood that welcomed and accepted them unconditionally.”
Participants at a July 1 commissioning service in Houston, held in conjunction with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, not only prayed for six field personnel who are assuming new assignments, but also recognized representatives of a ministry network serving in China.
About 800 people at the commissioning service prayed for six newly commissioned field personnel, including four from North Carolina:
- LaCount Anderson will work with churches in Scotland Neck in ministering to homeless people.
- Cecelia Beck will serve in Shelby as an outreach worker with the Northeast Shelby Weed and Seed, a community strategy geared toward crime prevention, literacy programs and community transformation. She served previously with a multicultural apartment ministry in Toronto.
- John and Michele Norman of North Carolina will work to develop a network of individuals and churches in the United States to pray, financially support and actively participate in CBF work in China.
In his executive coordinator’s report Daniel Vestal reflected on what holds the Fellowship together – common values, love of freedom, community and participation in God’s mission.
As the Fellowship approaches its 20th assembly, Vestal encouraged Fellowship Baptists to embrace the grace and providence “working in and through us.”
“This Fellowship is a work of God’s grace,” Vestal said. “And as we approach a milestone, our very existence is a testimony to providence. Our birth was a miracle.
“Our survival amidst brutal and sustained attacks is amazing. Our growth and influence within the Baptist family and the broader Christian community is humbling. The resources that God’s people have entrusted to us is at times overwhelming.”