Fellowship proposes new structure
___By Bob Allen
___Associated Baptist Press
___ATLANTA (ABP)--A proposed strategic plan for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will seek to cast the Southern Baptist Convention splinter group as "a movement and not just as an organization," according to its chief executive.
___"We think this represents a significant and perhaps even revolutionary direction for the future," said Daniel Vestal, coordinator of the Atlanta-based Fellowship. "That is, we exist for the benefit of the local church."
___Founded by moderates in response to a conservative "takeover" of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s, the 9-year-old Fellowship initiated its second generation with a strategic-planning process begun last summer.
___Approved by the Fellowship's Coordinating Council Feb. 24, the plan awaits adoption by the CBF General Assembly June 29-July 1 in Orlando, Fla.
___The plan calls for renaming the Fellowship's Atlanta offices as the "CBF Resource Center" and for the hiring of a new "Resource Center coordinator" to serve as chief operating officer. The new officer would lead and coordinate the work of the CBF's leadership team, freeing Vestal to "cast the Fellowship's vision" in Baptist churches around the nation, he said.
___Phase one of the plan clarifies the Fellowship's identity and mission, strategic initiatives and key priorities. A phase two next year would examine issues related to the structure and role of the Coordinating Council and the relationship of state and regional CBF groups.
___The plan includes a new mission statement: "Serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission."
___"Core values" are Baptist principles, biblically based global missions, a resource model for serving churches, an emphasis on justice and mercy, lifelong learning for ministers, trustworthiness and organizational effectiveness.
___The plan contains four "strategic initiatives"--faith formation, building community, leadership development, and global missions and ministry--and 14 "priority areas."
___The priority areas are:
___ Evangelism and outreach.
___ Spiritual growth.
___ Congregational health.
___ Baptist identity and relationships.
___ Reconciliation and justice.
___ Marriage and family ministries.
___ Ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.
___ Theological education.
___ Congregational leadership development.
___ Collegiate ministry.
___ Partnership missions with local churches.
___ Unevangelized peoples.
___ Urban poor and other marginalized people.
___ Church planting.
___"This represents the heart of the strategic plan," Vestal said.
___Members of the Coordinating Council enthusiastically endorsed the plan, proposed by staff and officers.
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