Local church autonomy: CBF congregations affirm local church autonomy in a broad way. How the church governs itself, who it calls as pastor, how it configures the staff, and what types of ministry programs it establishes are entirely the business of that local congregation. No state or national office can dictate to a local congregation, or for that matter does a sister church down the road. The idea is cooperation not control.

Ecumenical in outlook: CBF congregations tend to be ecumenical in outlook. More often than not they have significant relationships with other Christian groups in the area. This is especially true when it comes to ministry projects, community worship events, and peer relationships.

Respect for other faith traditions: The desire for interfaith dialogue is important to our congregations. Understanding how others view worship, music, evangelism, and ministry is important along with sharing our own faith and practices.

Equality of male and female leadership: Certainly at the state and national level, CBF has embraced the equality of male and female leadership. Our member congregations are free to call male or female leaders. This not only includes deacons but pastors and staff as well. The CBF/GA, for example, alternates between male and female moderators and seeks to have gender balance on all committees.

Lay and clergy are of equal value: CBF congregations value lay and clergy leadership on an equal basis. The state and national organizations work hard to involve both lay and clergy in our boards and committees. Our local congregations are not ruled by the clergy but are governed by the membership of the congregation.

Lean toward social justice: Our congregations tend to lean toward social justice as a major priority of ministry. We pay special attention to the marginalized in the community. Our focus is on being the presence of Christ in our local communities, as well as around the world. We desire to balance our proclamation of the Gospel with tangible acts of kindness. Value theological education: Our congregations value theological education for both clergy and laity. We seek to bring the best scholarship to our congregations, thus demonstrating our respect for scripture and our desire to grow spiritually.

These seven characteristics form the basis for what could be called a CBF identity.

-Written by CBF/GA Executive Coordinator, Frank Broome

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