Dallas was hot! But the meeting rooms were cold! We had an uplifting time at the 2022 General Assembly in Texas! Georgia was well represented. For our state meeting, on the opening evening, we joined with CBF of Alabama to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Seeing the room filled with many young faces was great. It reinforced for me that CBF is healthy and has a future. Daniel Vestal shared during his podcast that he was pleased to announce that at the 2022 Assembly he recognized only about a third of the attendees from the past, because this year’s gathering was attracting a new and diverse generation. In fact, I observed that there were few in attendance that had white hair like mine! I did meet some wonderful new friends from Texas that were my age, and a few of us from Georgia attended, but I really enjoyed the young energetic seminary students from Mercer who let me spend time with them. Incoming CBF Moderator Debbie McDaniel shared, “Friends, I’m energized by the faces I’ve seen this week and in various CBF spaces — the diversity of bright, young adults yearning to bear witness to Christ, hearing friends whose skin hues are different from mine telling stories of God-honoring work being done in their communities, listening to their words of support and encouragement to one another. These are positive witnesses to the risen Christ who is among us.”

Let me share some observations from the General Assembly in Dallas. Back at the 2019 Senior Adult Retreat at St. Simons, I became aware of the philosophy of considering assets/needs assessment instead of the usual attention given to what are we lacking. The Together for Hope organization uses this approach when they go into a community. In Southwest Georgia, they have converted an old bus into a mobile fresh food source for the food deserts in that area. Throughout the Assembly in Dallas, the phase “assets assessments” kept arising. COVID is still lingering in our communities, and many of our congregations still have not returned to our church facilities, but we are still reaching people for Christ. Most of our churches did not live stream our services before the pandemic. Some Sundays my church, First Baptist Church Decatur, has more people from across our country and even internationally watching live stream services than we have in attendance. Christ is being preached. Even though the newest report of women in ministry was not what we had hoped for, still women are attending seminaries and preparing for the ministry. We must let our feet and hearts follow through with what we proclaim, that women are welcomed as leaders in CBF churches, by inviting them into our churches to fill the pastoral vacancies.

CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley said, “CBF is crossing over but has not arrived yet.” Baxley said CBF is growing and becoming more diverse, but we still have much work to do. He stated, “We have begun to grow as a Fellowship and become more diverse because we know that diversity is essential to us living into a vision of being truly a community of mutual equipping, that Baptists from different places who speak different languages, who worship in different ways, can teach and encourage and provoke one another on toward love and good deeds.” Many areas of Georgia do not have a CBF congregation. Let’s spread the word that on our 30thAnniversary, CBFGA is a viable fellowship with a table where everyone has a place.

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