Cooperative and Progressive Baptists in Georgia have formalized a long-standing friendship, clearing the way for deeper relationships and shared ministries across the state.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia and New Era Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia — an affiliate of the Progressive National Baptist Convention — have entered into a Covenant of Action, part of the New Baptist Covenant initiative designed to foster racial reconciliation through fellowship and shared missions and ministries. The agreement became official April 15, during CBF Georgia’s General Assembly in Atlanta.
During the signing ceremony, the two groups together agreed to “regularly participate in a fellowship of work and worship which will be centered on concrete mission and ministry in Georgia” with a mission event scheduled for May 14 as the first step in this new journey.
“What ultimately we all want is what Dr. [Martin Luther] King called the beloved community,” said Frank Broome, coordinator of CBF Georgia. “We want a world in which black and white work together, pray together, eat together — where there is interconnectedness between our congregations.”
The relationship between the two organizations predates the covenant of action. For the past 15 years, Broome has attended and brought greetings to New Era meetings and New Era’s past three presidents have done the same at the state Fellowship’s assemblies. Following a flood in South Georgia several years ago, they joined together to distribute 500 Bibles to affected churches.
The relationship between the groups began to evolve into something more concrete at the New Baptist Covenant Summit in November 2013, where Tyrone Pitts, an NBC leader and former general secretary of PNBC, encouraged Broome and New Era’s president, Douglas Stowers, to consider a partnership.
The following year, an unexpected freeze caused pipes to burst and flooded the dormitory building at New Era’s retreat center near Griffin, Ga., where the state convention hosts annual worship and educational conferences. This incident brought the two groups together for shared service.
Stowers, who has served as pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Atlanta since 1994 and is a board member and treasurer of the PNBC Foundation, said that the partnership between New Era and CBF Georgia is for the long term.
“This covenant is not for a week or month, but for evermore as we come together to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes,” Stowers said.
“It gave us a concrete mission where we could do something mutually beneficial,” Broome added.
Volunteers from both groups will gather May 14 — the day before Pentecost — to cut down dead trees, clear brush, remove carpet and damaged drywall, clean and paint. Participants will join together for a time of joint worship and fellowship.
“Whenever we do work together, we’re going to worship together too,” said Broome, who noted that the creation of a beloved community is what both groups wish to see realized.
“I have come to believe that we have talked about the beloved community enough. I’d rather do something that would put some flesh and blood into this vision of the beloved community, and I think this project has the ability to do that. We’re not just talking about joining together; we are actually doing something together.”
Broome hopes that this partnership will find success and expand in the coming years with potential projects around disaster relief, deacon ministry and joint missions projects for youth.