By Robert Dilday
Launching a new partnership with a Washington-area seminary topped the agenda of the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Baptist Fellowship March 23 as it gathered for its annual meeting in suburban Maryland.
The 50-church regional affiliate of the national CBF will collaborate with the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in a shared mission of “equipping churches and leaders for transformational ministry,” according to a document signed by MACBF leaders and Leland president Mark Olson.
Though the partnership does not involve financial obligations by either the MACBF or the Arlington, Va.-based Leland Center, the document encourages “mutual assistance.” In addition:
• At least one MACBF clergy person will serve on Leland’s 28-member ministerial advisory board, and at least one member of the seminary’s faculty, staff or student body will serve on the nine-member MACBF coordinating council.
• The MACBF will provide annual scholarship funds for Leland students. The regional affiliate’s 2014-2015 budget allocates $500 for that purpose.
• The MACBF commits to assisting Leland students to find ministerial positions in its churches.
• At least once every two years, the MACBF and the seminary will jointly host a conference, symposium or workshop to benefit both organizations.
“By collaborating we can share our resources,” said MACBF coordinator Trisha Miller Manarin, who added that the partnership was a result of extensive conversations with Leland dean and academic vice president Jeffrey Willetts. “This is a wonderful way for us both to benefit.”
The annual meeting was the first for Manarin, who became part-time coordinator on Feb. 1. A former minister in Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states, she is a graduate of Palmer Theological Seminary in suburban Philadelphia and a doctor of ministry candidate at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.
During her first few weeks she has visited churches across the affiliate’s region, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs.
“I’m thrilled to know that so many of our churches are engaged in mission and we’re doing it contextually,” she told participants at the annual meeting at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Md.
The pastor of one of those churches — Kasey Jones of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington — encouraged annual meeting participants to “share your stories with the rest of CBF.” Jones is moderator-elect of the national CBF and will assume the top elected position in that organization in June.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to represent our region on the national level,” Jones said. “It’s an opportunity of sharing the gift of who we are to the larger family. I believe we are a gift and an asset to the CBF family.”
In other action:
A budget of $59,300 was adopted for 2014-2015, funded in part by church contributions and revenues from previous years.
Olivia Dawson, associate pastor of College Parkway Baptist Church in Arnold, Md., provided an update on the CBF fellows program, which aims to assist clergy in the first two years of church ministry. Dawson described her involvement in the program’s first cohort as “invaluable.”