By CBF Communications
DECATUR, Ga.— The leader of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Church Starts Initiative and host of the Fellowship’s award-winning podcast has accepted a call to serve as senior pastor of a leading CBF church in Louisiana. Andy Hale, who has directed CBF Church Starts since 2014, will begin in June as senior pastor of University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.
For the past seven years, Hale has served as pastor of Mosaic of Clayton in Clayton, N.C., a church he started alongside a core leadership group in 2010. He was commissioned as a CBF church starter at the 2012 General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas, and two years later joined the CBF staff to oversee the Fellowship’s Church Starting Initiative, where he has worked alongside CBF state and regional leaders to expand the initiative.
At the 25th Anniversary General Assembly in 2016, CBF commissioned its largest and most diverse of group church starters, representing five of the Fellowship’s state and regional organizations, with varying church sizes and styles as well as starters’ contexts, approaches, ethnicities and gender — all dedicated to relational and incarnational ministry.
Prior to becoming a church starter, Hale served as associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Clayton, N.C. He has also served oversees in Sri Lanka with North Carolina Baptist Men. Hale and his wife, Jennifer, have two daughters: Madison (age 6) and Aubrey-Anna (age 3).
“It has been one of the greatest joys of my vocation journey to work with CBF church starters,” Hale said. “This brilliant network has shaped and edified me in more ways than I can imagine. I look forward to the continued friendships and partnerships.”
Harry Rowland, CBF’s associate coordinator of congregations and leadership, expressed his thanks to Hale for taking the CBF Church Starts Initiative “to a new level.”
“Andy Hale took a beginning experiment to expand CBF church starting through an online cohort to the reality of new CBF churches across the nation,” Rowland said. “Under Andy’s guidance, CBF Church Starts experienced an increase in diversity both ethnically and stylistically. Andy will be missed and this initiative will always bear his imprint. I am grateful for his years of faithful work and ongoing friendship.”
Hale will continue to host the CBF Podcast, which he started in early 2016 to share the stories of CBF church starters. The CBF Podcast broadened its scope in 2017 to focus on a wide variety of topics and issues at the intersection of faith and culture through conversations with popular Christian authors, academics, pastors, practitioners and activists.
The CBF Podcast and Hale were recently honored by the Religion Communicators Council, an interfaith national organization of religion communicators, for an episode of the podcast on the theology of vocation featuring Story Photographers.
Podcast guests have included Brian McLaren, popular author and speaker; Melissa Rogers, former Obama White House official; Brian Zahnd, pastor and author; Katelyn Beaty, the first female editor of Christianity Today; Melvin Bray, Emmy Award-winning storyteller, Daniel Burke, religion editor of CNN; Sarah Bessey, author of “Jesus Feminist” and Emma Green, reporter for The Atlantic magazine.
Upcoming CBF Podcast guests include:
- April 16 — Jerusha Neal, Duke Divinity School professor and keynote speaker at the CBF General Assembly in Dallas in June (register here)
- April 23 — Tisha Harrison Warren, author of “Liturgy of the Ordinary” and Anglican priest in Austin, Texas
- May 7 — Wes Allen, author of “Preaching in the Era of Trump,” a new book on addressing current events through a Gospel lens, persuasively and pastorally and without engaging in divisive rhetoric
- May 14 — Rachel Held Evans, best-selling Christ author on her new book “Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again”
- May 21 — Bri McKoy, author of “Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table”
Other guests scheduled for this summer include Father James Martin, editor of the Jesuit magazine America and author of “Building a Bridge”; Jonathan Merritt, Religion News Service columnist and author of forthcoming “Learning to Speak God from Scratch”; Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion”; and Trisha Newbell, popular writer and author of “A True Story of God’s Delightfully Different Family.”
At the CBF General Assembly in June, Hale will host a live CBF Podcast conversation with Michael Wear, former White House staff, faith outreach director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and author of “Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America.” Wear will discuss reclaiming hope for our politics in a time of bitter polarization and political upheaval. Hale will also host conversations with other special guests throughout General Assembly on the new Podcast Stage in The Gathering Place exhibit hall.
“We are excited about what lies ahead for the CBF Podcast with Andy Hale,” said Aaron Weaver, communications director for CBF. “Andy birthed the CBF Podcast out of his deep passion for the church and the conviction that conversations matter. His aim has been to display those commitments through conversations with a wide array of diverse and ecumenical Christian leaders, thinkers and influencers on matters of interest and importance to Cooperative Baptists and friends.”
Sponsors of the CBF Podcast include Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity, Campbell University Divinity School, Center for Congregational Health, SEMA Films, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, David Correll of Universal Creative Concepts, Launch Mission Creative, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and Shine Curriculum. For information about sponsorship opportunities, e-mail [email protected].
Listen to the latest episode of the CBF Podcast on changing the way the church sees racism with author and activist Drew Hart of Messiah College.