Dr. Bob Newell and his wife Janice ten years ago founded Porta, a cultural center for Albanians located in Athens, GR. At the time, they were Field Personnel for CBF Global. Bob and Janice "retired" from the field a couple of years ago to their current home in Georgetown, TX. Bledi and Blerina Mile from Albania now living in Athens are the on-site directors of Porta. Bob and Janice continue as members of the Porta Advisory Council, fundraisers for Porta Tomorrow, and semiannual on-site contributors to activities at Porta in Athens.
By Rev. Dr. Jason Coker, Field Coordinator., CBFMS; reprinted from Baptist News Global
For the past 10 years, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi has had four coordinators and a couple of interims, but only one administrative assistant — and everybody knows her.
Deenie Grubbs has been the face, and more specifically the voice, of CBF MS through a turbulent decade. Whenever people called the office from the CBF national office or from local church members in Mississippi, they heard Deenie’s voice on the other line — and it has always been a gracious voice, which is why so many people love her. For a while, people would call just to see if CBF MS still existed; and when they called, Deenie was their proof that CBF MS was still alive and kicking. She also would do everything in her power to accommodate disparate requests from finding receipts for things she didn’t buy to producing donor lists for people to contact. She’s been a rock and a truly kind presence.
What almost everyone in the life of CBF MS does not know is that Deenie is not her real name; Deenie’s name is Sybil. This would shock most of our people across the state. Sybil “Deenie” Grubbs received her pet name from her grandparents — particularly her grandmother. Deenie’s grandmother actually called all of her grandchildren “deenie.” She would pinch their cheeks and shake them saying, “Ya deenie; ya deenie!” which translates into “You darling; you darling!”
This was a term of affection that her grandmother gave them from her mother country of Syria. Ellis and Esma Assaf emigrated to the United States after moving in and out of Lebanon and Syria for several years. When they finally had the opportunity to emigrate to the United States they did, and not long after arriving at Ellis Island in New York City, they moved to McComb, Miss., where they started a new life — they never returned to their mother country. For whatever reason, “Ya deenie” stuck with little Sybil, and we’ve only known her at CBF MS as “Deenie” Grubbs.
Deenie’s grandparents were among hundreds of thousands of immigrants leaving Lebanon and Syria, which was then controlled by the Ottoman Empire. From the 1880s to the early 1900s, Mississippi re-ceived many of these immigrants, who did not easily fit into the racial demographic of that time or that place. In other words, it wasn’t easy for many of these Middle Eastern immigrants, but the promise of freedom inspired their hope and tenacity to make it in America.
Today, I watched Deenie’s eyes fill with tears as she mourned the immigration ban prohibiting people from her grandparent’s homeland from coming to this land of freedom. This hits very close to home for CBF MS. Without Deenie’s presence for the past decade, I wonder if CBF MS would have been able to hold on, as coordinators came and went and when the organization failed to live up to its calling. The coordinating council certainly did a great job keeping this ship sailing during this period, but it was Deenie’s day-in, day-out presence that made CBF MS possible. I don’t think it is too much of an overstatement to say that CBF of Mississippi might not exist right now had it not been for the presence of Deenie Grubbs — a grandchild of Syrian immigrants. CBF MS loves Deenie Grubbs and we are so incredibly thankful that her grandparents were not prohibited from coming to this country and making a better life for their descendants.
The fear that has produced this kind of executive order, and the fear that it produces, stands in stark contrast to the hope that immigrants have of trying to find a place of safety for their children and themselves. I had the real privilege of working together with an interfaith group in Wilton, Conn., that hosted two refugee families — one from Iraq and one from Syria. I spent a year of my life eating breakfast nearly every day with a beautiful Iraqi family in order to let them know what the plans were for that day. While I was supposed to be there to help this family assimilate into American society, they actually helped me. They helped me see a bigger world full of good people who were running for their lives. Their two children — close to the same age as my children — became my little habibis.
I heard their story of how long it took to get refugee status, and how they ran for their lives the whole time their status was being processed/vetted in the United States. They fled Iraq and landed in a refugee camp in Jordan when their youngest was only months old.
The other family that we hosted from Syria wasn’t as fortunate. The father passed away in a refugee camp before the family was able to secure refugee status. This was after they walked with their five children for 12 days just to get to the safety of a refugee camp. That journey with small children saved their lives because they were running away from war. Today, the mother has started her own sewing business and the children are all integrated into school.
I wonder if their children or grandchildren will ever work for CBF or CBF MS? I wonder if they will be able to help one of our organizations bridge a treacherous gap in a time of trouble? I also wonder how many of these children and grandchildren will never live in the United States as we build walls and close our doors to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I wonder where Deenie would be right now if her grandparents were prohibited from coming to the United States.
I think that’s the source of her tears today.
(Originally published on clarionledger.com: http://on.thec-l.com/2gKY5fB )
The Rev. Jill Barnes Buckley has been named the new executive director of Stewpot Community Services of Jackson, the board of directors announced Wednesday in a news release.
She will begin her new position January 1.
Buckley received her master of divinity degree from Boston University in 2003 with a concentration in urban ministry and has served as associate pastor of Northminster Baptist Church in Jackson since 2004.
Buckley succeeds the Rev. Frank Spencer, whose retirement is effective December 31.
Stewpot Community Services is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization formed in 1981 by local churches in Jackson. From its nativity, the goal of Stewpot has been to promote, develop, stimulate and encourage physical and spiritual development. Among its 16 ministries are the Community Kitchen, which provides a noontime meal seven days a week, 365 days a year; a food pantry, a clothes closet, children's programs, and shelters for men, women and children.
By Rev. Dr. Bob Newell, PORTA Advisory Council
Bill Moyers has a way of asking questions. They are often not obvious questions, usually not questions that others are asking and rarely questions for which knee-jerk, thoughtless responses will suffice. One such penetrating, reflection-inspiring, soulsearching query was asked by the east Texas Baptist, whose life’s impact has extended far beyond both of those starting places happened in a dialogue on Moyers’ public television series, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. Moyers put this to Campbell: “Do you ever have the sense of … being helped by hidden hands?”
Campbell affectionately responded, “All the time.” Today, I dare to join the conversation between Moyers and Campbell with the simplest, first stirrings of my own authentic answer: “Yes!” Indeed, at my most honest, I am convinced that my life profoundly rests in hidden hands. So much has happened to me that, given both the good and bad of it, I can only explain by reference to some mysterious, other than reality which, in its essence, is partially revealed, yet largely hidden from both my conscious consideration and my complete comprehension. There are forces in life, over which I am largely powerless and from within which the pen-ultimate inquiries and feeble responses of my life are expressed. These have shaped much of my destiny, profoundly molded me and, as Moyers suggests, have also served, in the end, to help me.
Although some might insist that these hidden energies are totally nefarious and out to do me absolute and permanent harm, my sense is that there is a judicious mixture of forces in my experience, which hold the purpose and potential of two opposing outcomes; some hidden hands have sought, in the short-run, to harm me and others have sought, in the larger picture, to help. Those which seek to help, I like to call good. And those which seek to harm, I call evil.
Among many other things, it is this powerful, existential reality which, in the simplest and most hopeful terms, we have sought to communicate to Albanian immigrants in Athens, Greece through PORTA – the Albania House in Athens. While many of our Albanian friends have brutal experience with the reality that their lives are in someone else’s hands, it is sometimes difficult for them to realize that these are helpful hands. So much has happened to them – usually from the hands of others - that has been hurtful. It is so easy for Albanians (and all of us, for that matter) to conclude that the forces are against us.
And, to be honest, in the real world there surely are hidden forces that are opposed to our hope, health and happiness. But, that is not the entire story, especially as understood from the perspective of what almighty God has done and continues to do through Jesus Christ. Indeed, as Moyers and Campbell attest, in the end the hidden hands are helpful hands. As the followers of Jesus have come to understand, there is a more powerful set of hands which ultimately are even at work in the presence of other, evil hands. The hands that willingly took the piercing and pain of the nails on a cruel cross are the same hands that rolled away the stone on that first resurrection morning. Indeed, as the Apostle Paul said, years ago: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
At this time of the year, we in the west find ourselves in the immediate aftermath of an angry political debate, the divisive process of which has disheartened most and the political outcome of which has disappointed many. Somewhat ironically, we are also inclined, by calendar traditions, toward a celebration of thankfulness. At this somewhat awkward juncture, let us remember the helping hands. Let us join hands in worship, “giving a hand” to the One whose hands in human form took the hurt in order to help us. “Place your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water.” Will you also join us in giving a helpful “hand-up” to those whose lives seem to have been largely in hurtful hands? “I see that hand! God bless you!”
Great opening night of CBF MS Fall Assembly 2016 on Friday, October 21, at Northside Baptist Church, Clinton, MS. After a delicious fellowship meal together, Kate Campbell was incredible in concert. Northside Baptist rolled out the red carpet for CBFers from across the state. The evening ended with great anticipation for the sessions on Saturday.
Very engaging second day at CBF MS assembly included educational breakout sessions, annual business meeting, and worship after the noon meal to close the event. Ruth Perkins Lee, Charlie Johnson, Lane Riley, and Bobby Rayburn all led breakout sessions on Saturday morning. The theme of FA 2016 was "Where Everyone Counts." CBF MS set aside time at FA 2016 to help CBF Global celebrate its 25th anniversary. All in all, this was a very special event indeed. In addition, this event marked the first Fall Assembly that the Rev. Dr. Jason Coker along with his family attended and helped officiate as the Field Coordinator of CBF MS.
Rev. Gabe Swann's thoughts on racial reconciliation and the MS State Flag meld right into the teachings of Rev. Dr. Dee Dee Coleman about "Creating a Healing Community" at the New Baptist Covenant Summit, September 14-16, Atlanta, GA.Read More
CBF of Mississippi (CBF MS) Field Coordinator, Jason Coker, and Disaster Response Coordinator, Jim Kirkendall, are directly involved in partnering with CBF Global and CBF Louisiana (CBF LA) to assist those impacted by the severe flooding in south Louisiana.
The CBF Global efforts are led by Alan Williams, CBF U.S. Disaster Response Coordinator. CBF Global is requesting monetary donations specific to south Louisiana flooding by either giving online here, or you may mail a check payable to “CBF” with Acct. 17006 in the memo line to:
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
P.O. Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368-2972.
The donations will be passed through to be managed by CBF LA and distributed to victims of the flooding by a CBF LA team led by Mike Massar, interim CBF Louisiana state coordinator. Mike and team are working in partnership with CBF churches in the south Louisiana region, including Broadmoor Baptist Church and University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Very quickly needs have been evaluated and ways have been determined to provide aid.
Through efforts of Jason and Jim, CBF MS has already responded to one of the identified needs. CBF MS had a trailer at Northside Baptist Church receiving toiletries, diapers, and feminine products to take to Baton Rouge. These items were being collected between 9 am-2 pm everyday until the need was filled. The address for Northside is:
1475 E Northside Drive
Clinton, MS 39056.
Thanks to all those who responded so quickly, that immediate supplies need has already been met, and Jason was on the road yesterday afternoon making a delivery to CBF LA at a victim distribution point. As other supplies are identified and needed, Northside Baptist Church will continue to be a collection point. Please continue to look for Facebook announcements (search for Jason Coker FB page, or go to the CBF Mississippi FB page) for the specifics. This situation obviously is very fluid and developing rapidly.
Also, after assessing the situation, it has now been determined there is a need for able bodied labor to remove furniture from homes. Jim Kirkendall and Jason Coker are now site already working with the good folks at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Workers are needed for 1-2 days tops! It is a fluid process at the moment, so be ready to change gears quickly! If you are able to help, please contact Deenie Grubbs at email@example.com.
Thanks for your continued support and prayers for the victims and aid workers of the south Louisiana floods.
Rebecca Wiggs has been very instrumental in the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship over the past years. In recent years, she has been very faithful in performing the duties of CBF of MS Coordinating Council Member and Treasurer. The results of her efforts have been much appreciated by the Coordinating Council, as she has led the charge to tighten up some financial loose ends for CBFMS.
All the while, Rebecca also was holding down a very demanding "day job." Based on the recent awards she has received in the legal profession, her excellent performance and ethics have been duly recognized by her peers and professional organizations.
Rebecca is a partner in the firm of Watkins & Eager, PLLC, and is one of four Mississippi lawyers chosen for inclusion in the Fifth Edition of Benchmark's Top 250 Women in Litigation. Her litigation practice ranges from defending environmental exposure claims to resolving family business disputes. The Mississippi Women Lawyers Association named her the 2016 Women Lawyer of the Year. Wiggs is AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale Hubbell, listed in The Best Lawyers in America and is a Mid-South Super Lawyer. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Mississippi Bar Foundation.
By Norman Jameson, Baptist News Global, July 15, 2016
The thermometer offered a 103-degree “Welcome Home” recently to Mississippi native Jason Coker, returning to his roots after 14 years of church leadership in Wilton, Conn.
A Baptist from the South with a drawl, Coker arrived in the affluent Connecticut town not far from New York City as an outsider. He returns to Mississippi also as an outsider, to coordinate a small network of 16 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches in the state.
He also will be undergirding the work of Delta Hands for Hope, an advocacy group for school-aged children in the Delta which he started in 2013 in his hometown of Shaw, Miss., while pastor at Wilton Baptist Church. Both the national CBF and its Mississippi affiliate are sponsors of the organization.
“It’s great to be back,” he said, while maneuvering through rural Mississippi roads. “It’s exciting to be here, exciting to think about the work ahead of us.”
Even though Coker and his wife, Pamela, grew up in Mississipppi, they spent the last third of their lives in the New York bedroom community, living and ministering in “a whole town of leaders” who “run the financial institutions of the world.”
In Wilton Baptist Church he found “an incredible group of people from all over world who put their faith into action,” he said. “Their faith influenced the business they do and the way they do business. It was a blessing to be there.”
Coker doesn’t return as the same person who left. He said he is “substantially changed, theologically, personally, professionally and in every kind of way. You can’t life in a different culture and not be changed.”
His accent told everyone in Connecticut, “You’re not from around here.” Now, his linguistic immersion in New England tells his childhood acquaintances in Mississippi he is no longer from around there, either.
“I belong in both places,” he said. “And, it’s true I don’t belong in either.”
His first order of business is to visit the pastors of churches that relate to CBF Mississippi and let them and their church members know he is available as a resource.
He is anxious to get started on concrete ways to accomplish racial reconciliation “in ways that are life giving for everybody.”
Coker, 39, intends to build relationships “and forge partnerships” with other church bodies in the state and is already in conversation with the New Baptist Covenant, formed to build bridges across the racial divide.
“Mississippi is full of really incredible people, good people who want to do good work,” Coker said. “We’re going to access that. We’re going to unlock that in ways we haven’t done before. That’s what excites me most.
“We want to leverage the good will and desire for change in Mississippi, and we will.”
Coker wants to see Delta Hands for Hope grow into the mission arm of CBF Mississippi. He credits director Lane Riley with building his idea into a model. Delta Hands for Hope works with school-aged children and youth in education, recreation, health and spiritual development. A USDA grant last year helped provide 10,000 summer meals for children.
Coker is a graduate of William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Yale Divinity School and earned a doctorate from Drew University. He writes a monthly column for Baptist News Global.
“I’ve always felt the most noble thing I could ever do would be to go back to Mississippi, but I never thought it would be like this,” he said. “I come here with a deep sense of calling, but I feel it’s the right time for this.”
Excerpt from 2nd issue 2016 newsletter of FBC, Greenwood, SC
The youth at First Baptist Church in Greenwood, South Carolina, will work with a former member of their church in Shaw, Mississippi, for their summer missions project. The youth will staff a day camp at Delta Hands for Hope, where former youth group member Lane Riley is program director. The day camp offers fellowship, recreation, Bible study, team building, and leadership training opportunities for local school-age children. Jennifer Jennings, another former youth from FBC Greenwood, will serve with Lane this summer as a CBF Student.Go intern. “We’re very excited about this summer missions opportunity,” said Blake Kendrick, Associate Pastor for Students and Spiritual Formation at FBC Greenwood. “And we’ve worked hard this spring with two fundraisers to help us pay for our mission trip.”
Student.Go is a missions program of CBF that provides opportunities for students to serve with our field personnel and ministry partners as they live out CBF Global Missions commitments—cultivating beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and seeking transformational development.
Internships are 10 weeks or the length of a semester and include orientation at the beginning of the experience as well as a debriefing at the conclusion. Students receive a stipend, $1700 for semester assignments and $1200 for summer assignments. Housing, food and local transportation are provided for most summer assignments and some semester assignments (some assignments will require additional fundraising). Undergraduate students completing their first year of college and at least 18 years of age, as well as graduate students of any age, may apply.
We are currently accepting applications for Summer 2016 and Fall 2016.
Required attendance dates:
Orientation: Summer and Fall Service -- May 22-25, 2016, Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, NC
Selah vie: August 3-6, 2016, Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center, Nashville, TN
Want to apply or need more information about Student.Go?
By Ric Stewart
This article highlights some of the mission work Mike and Lynn Hutchinson are doing in Togo, West Africa, serving as CBF Global Field Personnel. Several excerpts (italicized) and photos from an article written by Greg Warner and published in the August/September issue of the CBF Global Fellowship Magazine are shown below.
Mike and Lynn are committed Christians who have been missionaries for most of their adult lives. They speak French fluently, which makes them a tremendous asset for CBF in Togo, where next to Eve the native language, French is the most dominant language. In the past several years, Mike and Lynn have focused on the general education of children in the townships/villages around Lome, Togo, AF. Lome is located on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. Mike and Lynn also have worked diligently with adults and children in helping them to realize their God-given potential. Asset Based Community Development methods are used to develop the villagers talents/skills to the point of being able to use the natural resources of Togo to produce products/services that are of value to the overall community.
The Hutchinsons have a low opinion of “development” as traditionally practiced by Westerners. In a typical approach, “a community must be seen as having nothing” in order to receive help from outside organizations, Mike explained. “This can promote a ‘deficit perspective.’ Sometimes the community themselves come to believe that they have nothing, which leaves them with little hope for improvement.”
“Asset-based community development starts with the individuals who are there,” Lynn explained. “Instead of focusing on deficits, it helps people recognize that they and others in their community have, and in fact are, assets.”
The Hutchinsons believe this organic approach to problem-solving produces community buy-in, and hence long-lasting results.“We invest in individuals,” Mike said. “As they grasp the idea of it, they start things.”
Severan is an eager high-school student from a nearby fishing village, where mothers were troubled about frequent illnesses among their children. After Mike shared the ABCD principles with Severan, the boy and his mother organized a neighborhood sweeping association.
“They decided if their streets were cleaner, their children would be healthier,” Mike noted. Now every Saturday at 5:30 in the morning, villagers emerge from their homes with brooms in hand and sweep the trash from the dirt streets — plastic bags, wrappers, rotten fruit — a week’s worth of accumulated waste in a village where there is no “public works department” to do it.
Those who participate contribute a tiny amount of money and a bar of soap which are raffled off to one lucky participant each week. “It’s kind of like a door prize but without the door,” Lynn said.
The sweeping association is one way for villagers to practice community-based problem solving, one that the CBF field personnel would probably never suggest. Not only are the streets clean, but the sweeping association and the community have become empowered and confident enough to tackle much more.
By Jay Lynn and Ric Stewart
Learn by Going Disney 2016
This learning event is the brainchild of Jay Lynn, Pastor/Executive Director of St. Martin Baptist Fellowship (SMBF) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. SMBF is a moderate Baptist community of faith along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship international organization. SMBF gathers on Sunday night at 5:30 pm for dinner and worship. The Learn by Going "immersive learning lab" for Church Lay Leaders and Professional Staff was held February 1-4, 2016, in Orlando, FL, at the Buena Vista Suites. Significant learning time was also spent in the natural "immersive learning lab" behind the scenes at Walt Disney World park led by Jeff Kober, primary Keynote Presenter (more below). Jay was joined by David Woody in hosting this learning event. David is the Minister of Faith Development at Providence Baptist Church in Charleston, SC. In his church role, Woody seeks to find ways to connect the Gospel and the Kingdom of God with folks across all age groups living everyday life.
J. Jeff Kober brought life and energy to this event from a Disney perspective. Jeff is a former leader with the Disney Institute, experienced consultant, and author of The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. Lessons From Epcot: In Leadership, Business & Life; and Disney’s Hollywood Studios: From Show Biz to Your Biz.
Learning how to do modern ministry doesn’t mean compromising your values in order to attract people, but it does require some creative thinking and a deeper understanding of what people need from church. The Walt Disney Company is known worldwide as the gold standard for fostering creativity and extending hospitality to its guests. Many of these hospitality techniques are transferable to how Christian churches extend love and graciousness to seekers and people already members of the body of Christ.
This event was well attended by twenty (20) attendees with a full 2.5 days of immersive learning activities. These attendees came mostly from large churches across the USA, including a Senior Associate Pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, with several of his professional staff team. Another church team came from South Main Baptist Church in Houston, TX. Both of these churches are large CBF churches. FBC of Richmond, VA, also sent a few leaders and staff members. Joining the Baptists, were leaders and staffs from a Presbyterian church in Bellevue, WA, and a Methodist Church in Macon, GA. Quite an ecumenical Christian group.
The ultimate evidence of the success of this event comes directly from evaluation comments from those in attendance::
"Innovative, creative. I usually regret Baptist conference. This was thought provoking and insightful."
"So much to think about! And so many things I would like to apply and share. Will definitely have things/ideas I am bringing back to my church."
"Great experience -- would highly recommend."
"So glad I stumbled upon this and our pastors were behind our attendance. Loved having all my senses filled and ideas to bring back and chew on."
"...and many more."
CBF and Global Women Better Together
By Trudy Johnson
CBF and Global Women are “identity collaborative” partners but what does that mean? It means the organizations are “better together!” This year CBF celebrates 25 years of mission and ministry while Global Women commemorates 15 years of shining a light on the hard, dark, and difficult places where women and children are the most vulnerable. Through this partnership Global Women will network among women in CBF congregations to heighten awareness of the impact of their work and join together to seek potential responses to issues that stifle Global Women’s vision of a world where every woman is empowered by the love of God, valued by her community, and equipped to fulfill her unique purpose.
Global Women is pleased to have an increasing number of CBF field personnel as global partners. In 2016 we are helping fund the sewing initiative of the Naomi Center in Romania (Tammy Stocks), the sewing as well as cooking classes of Refuge and Hope in Uganda (Shelah Acker and Missy Ward Angula), and the Tenaganita Shelter for Trafficking Victims and Migrants in Crisis in Malaysia (Cindy Ruble). Additionally, another CBF partner, Passport, Inc.’s Watering Malawi’s Girl Power in support of young girls seeking to break the system of poverty through education is being funded by Global Women.
Global Women invites all interested women and men to join them in Greensboro for General Assembly. A workshop: Global Women. Bold Vision., led by Global Women’s executive director, Stacy Blackmon, will highlight the state of women and girls around the world and Global Women’s bold vision for empowering women to live and lead to their full potential. The workshop is scheduled for session 3 from 1:30 to 2:30 PM. Board and staff will also be available at the Global Women exhibit in The Gathering Place.
Global Women is also throwing a 15th birthday dinner gala on Friday. This will also be a time to give our second Global Heart Award to Babs Baugh. Tickets are available at gwbirthdaygala.eventbrite.com. Early ticket sales are encouraged to guarantee a seat at the dinner. For more information on Global Women visit them on Facebook or at GlobalWomenGo.org.
For information contact:
Passport, Inc., unveils a 1.5 million dollar Capital Campaign this week, with nearly two thirds of the goal already pledged. The campaign announcement coincides with a $500,000 challenge grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. “The students and staff that are attending Passport camps now will one day be leading our CBF churches as pastors, musicians, and lay people,” says Jackie Baugh Moore, a member of the Baugh Foundation Board and granddaughter of John and Eula Mae Baugh. “There is no more practical way to invest in the future of compassionate Christian leaders than to give to Passport.”
The PASSPORT Matters Capital Campaign has four main goals: to increase a camper scholarship fund, upgrade all facets of summer programs, expand leadership development capacity, and secure a solid financial foundation for Passport’s future.
“Passport has always worked hard to stretch every dollar,” says co-founder and President David Burroughs. “We are excited about this challenge grant from the Eula Mae and JohnBaugh Foundation because it gives confidence to our participating churches, former campers and staff, and Passport friends that their gifts will be matched by the Baugh Challenge Grant up to $500,000!”
“The Baugh Foundation is challenging anyone who has been impacted by PASSPORT or who believes that our ministry matters to make a contribution to the campaign. You can donate by visiting passportcamps.org/matters,” says Burroughs. Passport has developed into a theologically moderate pipeline for church leadership and church members. Offering programming designed to engage students in conversations about thoughtful theology, grace, justice, and religious freedom, Passport nurtures Christian voices that can counter cultures of fundamentalism. “Passport’s moderate theological voice is not easily found in mainstream student ministry programs. After twenty-four years, we know that our specific theological voice comes at a premium – a premium we can no longer ask campers and their parents to bear alone,” states Burroughs. “We are grateful to the Baugh Foundation for this incredible gift and are prayerful that others will accept this challenge for support.”
“An investment in Passport is an investment in the future of the church. We believe that Passport needs to be around for a long time and we want to help make that happen. Please consider making an investment in the future of the church through Passport,” says Moore.
Passport, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) ecumenical Christian ministry, providing mission and discipleship focused camps for youth and children, student ministry resources, and is a long time partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Article provided by Communications Office, Passport, Inc.
Photo Credit: Mark Sobhani
Missionary Mike Hutchinson has returned to the United States for a well deserved Off Field Assignment (OFA). After flying from Togo, AF, to Atlanta, Mike joined up with his wife Lynn (also missionary in Togo, AF, on OFA) and they attended meetings at the home office of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Inc., located in Decatur, GA. This was a time that missionaries on OFA can share with the home office what is happening in their ministries on the mission field. Also, the national CBF staff took this opportunity to give a warm welcome to the missionaries as well as share with them CBF opportunities, programs, and events occurring in the United States and around the world.
Suzii Paynter, CBF Executive Coordinator, led this meeting and was very gracious with Mike, Lynn, and other missionaries in attendance by giving them as much time as needed at the end of the meeting to give their personal field experiences feedback to the group. Stephen Porter, CBF Global Missions Coordinator, then spent over an hour at the end of a very busy day talking “one-on-one” with Mike and Lynn about “anything and everything” CBF Global Missions. What a day to make Mike and Lynn feel very appreciated for all of the hard work they have been doing on the mission field in Togo.
After leaving Atlanta, Mike and Lynn took a circuitous route to visit family and supporting churches in Stone Mountain, GA; Nashville, TN; and Jasper, AL (new grandson/first grandchild), before returning to their home in Long Beach, MS.
Mike is a former CBF MS State Coordinator, leaving his post in MS in March 2013 to return to the mission field in Togo, West Africa. One of his responsibilities as MS state coordinator was to start a CBF fellowship on the MS Gulf Coast. St. Martin Baptist Fellowship (SMBF) was started in November 2011 in the home of Mike and Lynn in Gulfport, MS. While on OFA, they have been staying in their home in Long Beach and have been a welcomed addition to the attendance of SMBF over the past several weeks.
Lynn Hutchinson, co-founder of St Martin Baptist Fellowship (SMBF) with her husband Mike, is now CBF Field Personnel in Togo, AF, serving with her husband Mike. She is currently on Off Field Assignment (OFA) on the MS Gulf Coast for several months. Read more about Lynn's OFA in the United States in an earlier blog on this website. The folks at SMBF have enjoyed having Lynn attend their Sunday evening gatherings when she is in town. One project of this husband/wife team that continues to grow very rapidly is the Togo House. Part of this ministry project is to rent a house where children can come and learn English words while also learning about the love of Jesus. A young man of the village, Komla, who lost a leg recently in an accident, receives a salary from the Togo House to teach the children. Also, this summer, Mike has been very busy coordinating the activities of summer personnel providing assistance at the Day Camps attended by 80+ Togolese children. Two of the helpers are Aaron and Grace Ogburn from Baylor University, who have spent the summer in Togo helping with the camps. Mike and Lynn are very strong proponents of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to developing assets of the people in the village. One project they have started involves the people of the community gathering together on a regular schedule to sweep the streets of the village. The villagers are now taking great pride in how their community looks.
Christian Byrd, Field Coordinator for CBF MS, and Dr. Mike Massar; recently selected Transitional Coordinator for CBF LA and Co-Pastor of University Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, LA; opened the CBF joint LA-MS state meeting by asking all of those in attendance to stand and introduce themselves to the group. An estimate of the headcount at the meeting is 56 people with a good representation from each state. People attended from as far away as Togo, AF, with Lynn Hutchinson, a Mississippian now serving as CBF Field Personnel in Togo, being the one who traveled the farthest to attend. Others in attendance were spread across LA-MS from MS cities such as Olive Branch, Gulfport, Shaw, Jackson, Hattiesburg, Leland, and Starkville; and LA cities such as Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lake Providence, Vidalia, and New Orleans. Mike threw the group a little twist by asking that we give our name, church name, and the last sin we had committed in our introductions. All in good fun, as you would expect, there were some nervous, and boisterous, laughs as we went around the room. The exercise continued with people pairing off and telling each other about their churches. All in all, these were creative ice-breakers that got everyone into a pretty jovial mood from the git-go.
Next on the agenda, the Delta Hands for Hope (DHH) team gave an update to the group. Lane Riley, DHH Program Director, and Cora Jackson from DHH discussed activities at the DHH Center in Shaw, MS. Seventy percent of the children in Shaw live in families that are below the poverty line. The DHH summer feeding program has provided as many as 10,000 meals during the summer for the children around the area of Shaw, MS. The DHH update was followed by Jenny Hodge; Program Director, of the CBF Together for Hope program in Lake Providence, LA (right across the MS River from Shaw); sharing her activities report with the group. All of these folks are doing excellent work training students to be leaders, mentors, and servants of Christ as they mature in their Christian life. These programs are either a direct result or a spin-off of the Rural Poverty Initiative of CBF started several years ago to provide assistance to the poorest counties in the U.S. Today in the U.S., the MS Delta area has taken the place of Appalachia as the most financially challenging place to live.
Lynn Hutchinson was next to report to the group. She shared the journey Mike and she have taken since leaving their last mission field assignment in Africa in the summer of 2010. They returned to the U.S. and lived in Hattiesburg for a year or so while attending UBC, a CBF church in Hattiesburg. Mike soon became the State Coordinator of CBF MS. Part of his new responsibility was to start a CBF fellowship on the MS Gulf Coast. The couple moved to the coast and started a fellowship group in their home in Gulfport, MS, in November 2011. That fellowship continues today with Reverend Jay Lynn leading St Martin Baptist Fellowship. In March 2013, Mike and Lynn returned to the mission field as CBF Field Personnel to Togo, AF. Their ministry has been growing as Lynn and Mike have integrated themselves into the community of Lome, Togo, AF. One project that continues to grow very rapidly is the Togo House. Part of this ministry project is to rent a house where children can come and learn English words and also learn about the love of Jesus. A young man of the village, Komla, who lost a leg recently in an accident, receives a salary from the Togo House to teach the children. He is very good at disciplining the children while conveying the love of Jesus. Also, Lynn and Mike use the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to develop the assets of the people in their village in Lome, Togo, AF. One project they have started involves the people of the community gathering together on a regular schedule to sweep the streets of the village. The villagers are now taking great pride in how their community looks.
As a wrapup, Christian Byrd and Mike Massar also reported on some of the upcoming CBF activities in the states of MS and LA. Christian announced the Children's Minister Day to be held at FBC Meridian (FBCM) on July 18, which will include a time of sharing about various children's curriculum resources. It's open for anyone from MS, LA and AL. FBCM's curriculum for kids has been very effective helping children to learn the stories that God teaches them through His Word.
Mike Massar spoke of a lecture series CBF supports that has been going on for some time in LA and mentioned several of the past/future speakers at this forum. He also mentioned that the next event in this series will be held at the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, CBF church in New Orleans, November 7-8. This event is the Mabel Palmer Lectures in partnership with the Stagg-Tolbert Forum. Nationally recognized Christian author Rachel Held Evans will be coming to speak at this event. She will speak at the Forum and preach in the Sunday morning service at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church.
All in all, this was a great, joint meeting between CBF LA and CBF MS. All came away from the meeting with renewed excitement for the future of CBF.
For nearly ten years, First Baptist Church Meridian (FBCM) has been “Walking” on summer Sunday nights. Sunday School classes and other groups at FBCM participate in at least one mission project during the summer months. While many of the projects take place during the week, Sunday nights are set aside for planning and fellowship.
The “Walking” projects were first organized by Matt Snowden, then associate pastor at FBCM. (Matt currently serves as the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Waco, Texas.) Groups were encouraged to reach out to Meridian in whatever way they could. Some mission projects were short-term: washing cars for free, giving out water bottles at busy intersections, yard work for the elderly. Over the years, some groups have formed long-term, on-going relationships. One of the ladies’ Sunday School classes has “adopted” women and children who seek shelter at the Care Lodge, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. What started as one summer visit has turned into a weekly ministry. The ladies of FBCM visit with the women at the Care Lodge, offering them a listening ear and a few items like purses packed with health and hair care supplies to get them through this time of transition.
One project that grew well beyond what could be imagined has become known as the Playground for Jesus. Members of a young adult Sunday School class partnered with Wesley House, a local community center for relief and education that has served Meridian for over 100 years. Wesley House had inadequate outdoor play facilities for their daycare students, children who come for after-school and summer care, and youngsters who accompany a family member receiving services from Wesley House. From raising money to the construction of the playground, FBCM members faithfully saw the Playground for Jesus come to life.
. . . Being the Presence of Christ in our World.