By Bob Allen
Staff leaders of two national moderate Baptist organizations met Feb. 5 in Atlanta to share ideas and discuss present and future partnerships.
Pat Anderson, interim executive of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, said the 1,900-church group that separated from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1991 over doctrinal differences like women in ministry has “great affinities” with American Baptist Churches USA, a historic denomination that combined missionary efforts of Baptists across the United States before the Southern Baptist Convention pulled out over the issue of slavery in 1845.
“We share a Baptist history and heritage which blesses our work, and we share a Baptist view of congregational life, missions and social justice,” Anderson said. “Our paths intersect in so many ways that it is quite natural for us to want to work together intentionally in common tasks, as we do in significant ways, while also maintaining our unique identities.”
“For me, on a larger scale, I want to know how we can strengthen the moderate voice in Baptist life,” said Roy Medley, ABCUSA general secretary and ecumenical officer. “Are there things we can do together that would strengthen each other … whether it’s the co-appointment of missionaries or doing a conference together? Are there points where we can intersect with each other and benefit each other? I hope these are some initial steps we have taken today as we have gotten to know each other.”
In 2007, CBF and ABCUSA met together in Washington, D.C., for the Fellowship’s annual General Assembly and ABCUSA’s biennial meeting. At that gathering, the two organizations jointly commissioned four field personnel to missions service – Nancy and Steve James serving in Haiti and Duane and Marcia Binkley serving among Karen refugees.
The two groups have also partnered in the past in disaster-response efforts including the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina and recently Hurricane Sandy. They also share common partners in ministry, such as the Baptist World Alliance, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Affairs, Baptist Center for Ethics and Baptists Today.
— With reporting by Patricia Heys of CBF communications.