By Emily Holladay
DECATUR, Ga. – A strategic and innovative former field personnel and former director of one the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s flagship urban ministries was named CBF’s new Coordinator of Global Missions at a press conference today.
Steven Porter, who served as the executive director of Touching Miami with Love from 2001 to 2005, will lead CBF’s 125 field personnel in the United States and around the world, as well as the organization’s Decatur, Ga., -based Global Missions staff. Touching Miami with Love was founded in 1995 and aims to share the love of Christ by providing hope, opportunities and resources with the city’s Overtown community.
Porter holds ordination in the National Baptist Convention (USA) and currently teaches courses on the history and theology of Christian mission, including one titled Evangelism: A Contextual Approach, at one of CBF’s partner schools, George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. His academic pursuits have provided connections to other CBF partner schools as well. He earned an M.Div. at Candler School of Theology and is pursuing a Th.D. from Duke University Divinity School, where he has been involved in the Baptist House of Studies. He has also taught courses in evangelism at William Jewel College, in Liberty, Mo., and served as a teaching assistant at Duke Divinity.
Porter was commissioned as a field personnel on CBF’s Urban Team in 1998 and served in Miami until 2005. In his work with Touching Miami with Love and through his various academic pursuits, Porter has connected with many of CBF’s state and regional organizations, including CBF of Florida, the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, CBF of Missouri (now CBF Heartland), CBF of Texas and CBF of North Carolina. In North Carolina, Porter served on the Wealth and Poverty Task Force; and in Texas, on the national CBF Missions Council. He currently is the chair-elect of the CBF Missions Council.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter lauded Porter’s strong connection to the Fellowship and its state and regional organizations, as well as his effective leadership at Touching Miami with Love.
“Steven is the right person at the right time to lead CBF’s Global Missions efforts into the future,” Paynter said. “His commitment to collaborative mission efforts, to recognizing and replicating best practices and to investing in long-term mission engagement has me excited about where we’ll go and what impact we will make together as a Fellowship and with our mission partners.”
Paynter also pointed to Porter as the right person to lead CBF’s Global Mission efforts as the organization carries out the 2012 Task Force report that calls on the Fellowship to continue to follow its passion to obey the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), through global missions engagement “with the least evangelized and most neglected persons of the world through sending vocational and volunteer missionaries.”
While in Miami, Porter served as a chaplain in a federal prison and a street pastor for a homeless congregation. He was pastor of Downtown Mission, Central Baptist Church, in Miami from 1998 to 2005. In his leadership at Touching Miami with Love, Porter focused the organization on its core strengths — ministry to the homeless community and families at risk in the Overtown neighborhood. Part of the decision to narrow the ministry’s focus also included a concern to identify more closely with their neighbors – to be the presence of Christ in that place.
Consequently, Touching Miami with Love relocated from downtown to a new ministry center in the heart of Overtown, which opened doors for expanded advocacy and community organizing.
Internationally, Porter has developed a passion for building relationships with Christians from the Global South having served three stints as an international student, leading an international student ministry in Miami and participating in the work of the Baptist World Alliance and the International Association of Mission Studies. In 2010, he was the recipient of a Henry Luce Foundation Research Grant for work at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
At CBF, Porter looks to build on the organization’s strengths to help it become more collaborative in its global missions work, including closer integration with local congregations and the congregational ministries side of CBF.
“There are incredible people giving their lives away every day in some of the most difficult contexts imaginable through CBF Global Missions—but the same can be said of Christians in CBF congregations,” Porter said. “We must do a better job of learning from each other within and beyond the Fellowship to leverage that wisdom and wise practices to advance God’s reign in the world.”
To help select CBF’s new coordinator of Global Missions, a 12-member search committee chaired by CBF of North Carolina Missions Coordinator Linda Jones formed in October. The committee was made up of individuals from across CBF life, including pastors, former field personnel and staff members from CBF state and regional organizations.
Jones said Porter is precisely what CBF Global Missions needs at this time.
“The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship needs a shared vision for mission engagement for the future,” she said. “This requires someone with strategic vision who understands CBF, the local church, and understands our field personnel — their passion, commitment and difficulties of being on the field. It requires an understanding of our culture and what we need as an organization to lead us forward to effective, strategic, innovative and holistic ministry in our world. Our team believes that Steven Porter is that person.”
Members of the committee were:
- Linda M. Jones (chair), Missions Coordinator, CBF of North Carolina, Winston-Salem, N.C.
- Ryan Clark, Specialist and Training Manager for Global Missions, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
- Bill Coates, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Ga.
- Arville Earl, Retired CBF Field Personnel, Talmo, Ga.
- Chris Ellis, Minister of Mission and Outreach, Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark.
- Beverly Greer, Retired Missions Coordinator at CBF of South Carolina, Belton, S.C.
- Bill McConnell, CBF Moderator, Knoxville, Tenn. (Ex-officio member)
- Michael Oliver, Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Madison, Ala. (Missions Council representative)
- Joe Phelps, Pastor, Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.
- Rob Sellers, Professor of Theology and Connally Professor of Missions, Logsdon School of Theology, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas
- Rachel Gunter Shapard, Associate Coordinator, CBF of Florida, Jacksonville, Fla.
- Steve Wells, Pastor, South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (Governing Board representative)
Jim Smith has served as CBF’s interim coordinator of Global Missions since Rob Nash left CBF for Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology to be professor of missions and world religions and associate dean. Nash led CBF’s Global Missions work from 2006 until June 2012.
During Nash’s tenure, Global Missions implemented a new strategic plan that reiterated CBF’s commitment to the most neglected while building innovative structures for engagement. Under Nash’s leadership, the Fellowship commissioned at the 2009 General Assembly the first network of field personnel, churches and individuals as a ministry team among people in China. CBF Global Missions has also implemented eight mission communities through which churches and individuals can engage alongside field personnel.
For more information on Porter, including additional biographical information, video, photos and endorsements, go to www.thefellowship.info/porter.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.