Cooperative Baptist Fellowship leaders in the Mid-Atlantic are praising the nomination of Suzii Paynter to be the next executive coordinator of the national CBF as it begins implementing a significant structural reorganization.
Since 2001, Paynter, 62, has been director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’s Advocacy Care Center and its Christian Life Commission, giving her a key role in developing public policy initiatives for Baptists in Texas. She was selected by a 10-member search committee, which announced its nominee in a Jan. 17 press conference at the CBF Resource Center in Atlanta.
The CBF’s Coordinating Council will vote on the nomination at its Feb. 21-22 meeting. If elected, Paynter will assume her new role in March.
“Suzii Paynter is an invested leader and longtime friend to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist leaders across the county,” said Rob Fox, field coordinator for the CBF of Virginia. “Suzii and I first met during a CBF meeting several years ago in Texas. We discussed the shared value that both Virginia Baptists and Texas Baptists place upon engaging local and global missions.
“Since that meeting, I’ve paid close attention to Suzii’s leadership within the Fellowship, and I’ve been very impressed,” Fox added. “She has my enthusiastic support as the new executive coordinator, because she embodies the experience and know how to lead a global mission-focused non-profit organization. She will help CBF be accountable to our mission, and she will help us celebrate our successes.”
Larry Hovis, executive coordinator of the CBF of North Carolina, called Paynter “an excellent choice for CBF’s new executive coordinator.”
“She’s been part of the CBF movement from the beginning and is respected throughout our fellowship,” Hovis said. “She is a proven leader, a strategic thinker and has significant connections both within and beyond the Baptist family. Her admirable skill set will enable us to grow into our new structure and be even more faithful to God’s mission in the world. I look forward to working with her.
“Cooperative Baptists in North Carolina are grateful to be part of the greater CBF community and are excited about the next chapter of our life and ministry together,” he said.
The moderator of the Mid-Atlantic CBF said his group “looks forward to this new era of leadership for the CBF with Suzii Paynter.”
“Churches and individuals across Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. that make up our region continually seek to strengthen our relationship with the national movement,” said Cameron Edgar, who also is pastor of College Parkway Baptist Church in Arnold, Md. “We will pray for Suzii as she accepts this challenge and pledge to join with her in our common work in God’s kingdom.”
In her 11 years with the BGCT, Paynter has advocated on issues such as religious liberty, hunger and poverty, environmental justice, human trafficking and immigration reform at the Texas Legislature in Austin, where she is based, as well as nationally.
In addition, she has overseen Texas Baptists’ hunger offering, chaplaincy program and counseling services.
She has been deeply involved in the CBF movement, serving as a former member of its Coordinating Council and chairing its General Assembly planning committee.
A graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Paynter also holds a master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. She and her husband, Roger — who serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Austin — have two grown children.
At the Jan. 17 press conference, Paynter said her experience in missions, ministry and governance will provide insights in implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Task Force, which focuses on a restructuring of the 22-year-old CBF.
“I promise to give my gifts to this organization in leadership and service and relationships, because this is what was given to me,” she said. “It will be an offering of giving back to the Fellowship.”
The CBFVA’s Fox said he already has arranged for Paynter to visit his state in April, with appearances in Richmond, Norfolk, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville and Roanoke.
“For those who don’t know Suzii Paynter in Virginia, we want to give them a chance to meet and visit with her face to face,” he said. “We will host a tour with her and other CBF staff to visit with clergy and laity around Virginia.”
Detailed information will be announced soon, he said.
Robert Dilday ([email protected]) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.