The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship announced a new partnership Oct. 5 with the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc., seeking to build new bridges between predominantly black and white Baptist churches in the United States.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and NBCA President Samuel C. Tolbert Jr. signed a memorandum of understanding at Simmons College in Louisville, Ky., “to begin a conversation that will foster deeper relationships, showcasing the innovative nature of NBCA and CBF, our diverse perspectives and people,” according to a press release.
Potential areas of cooperation include social justice and advocacy awareness; the dismantling of racism in the U.S.; disaster response and long-term recovery; alleviating poverty and supporting and equipping healthy churches.
The two groups already cooperate as active members in the North American Baptist Fellowship, one of six global regions affiliated with the Baptist World Alliance, and the New Baptist Covenant, a movement to promote unity among Baptists across racial lines initiated by former President Jimmy Carter.
“We celebrate our partnership in the spirit of cooperation, goodwill and common faith,” Paynter said. “We reaffirm our commitment to Baptist values including evangelism, education, helping those in need and promoting religious liberty. Our partnership is an important effort to bring together Baptists from diverse racial, theological and regional backgrounds.”
“In a time in the United States when racial tensions are heightened, both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the historically Negro National Baptist Convention of America are a blazing fresh and needed alliance,” Tolbert said. “We are not stronger separated, but we are stronger together.”
With an estimated 3.5 million members, the National Baptist Convention of America is the eighth largest religious body in the United States and third-largest Baptist group behind the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc., and the Southern Baptist Convention.
CBF leaders said the new collaboration began to take shape through disaster relief coordinated through the North American Baptist Fellowship responding to flooding in Louisiana in August. At Tolbert’s invitation, CBF’s associate coordinator of projects and services Ron Fairley reported on the emerging partnership at the National Baptist Convention of America International annual gathering Sept. 14 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Fairley will provide consulting services to the NBCA as it relocates its national headquarters and 10-member staff to Louisville, Ky. The NBCA board voted unanimously Oct. 6 to move the corporate headquarters to the campus of Simmons College upon sale of the current headquarters in Dallas.
Simmons College, a historically black college with ties to the CBF of Kentucky, announced a new collaboration with the National Baptist Convention of America International last December designating Simmons as the educational provider for the denomination.
Along with the move, NBCA announced plans to hold its 2017 annual session and 2020 Family Faith Fest in Louisville, expected to pump nearly $2 million in tourism into the local economy.