Cooperative Baptist Society state organizations in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi voted to merge into a single regional organization in a process made possible by CBF leaders.
“Our coordinating councils unanimously approved it and there was unanimous support at each of our separate annual meetings throughout,” CBF Mississippi Coordinator Jason Coker said Oct. 13.
The merger recommendation comes from a research committee made up of four members from each state, he said.
“The next step will be for coordination councils to appoint a person from each state to be a member of a three-member board that will then form a new board of directors, with five people from each state. ”
The dates for reaching these milestones are not known, nor is it known when the new organization – and its final name – will become a reality, Coker added. “It’s going to be months, but they’re working on it all very quickly.”
The idea of the merger began with talks between leaders of Mississippi and Louisiana organizations five or six years ago, said former CBF coordinator in Louisiana Kyle Kelley. “It simply came to our notice then. That never materialized. “
The concept has been revived around the spring of 2021, when leaders in all three groups realized they would soon withdraw or – in Coker’s case – move to another ministry, leaving all three groups facing vacancies at the same time, he said.
Kelley retired in September, and Higgins will do so in late December. Coker should take the lead Together for Hope full-time when he moves from the CBF ministry to an independent non-profit organization.
This looked like it was time for action, Coker said. “We had some joint meetings of the Coordination Council of the three states by Zoom. The stars somehow aligned and I think they all had the same idea at the same time. ”
Kelley added that he is the CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley and Strategic Engagement Officer Adam Granger facilitated the process.
CBF Arkansas Executive Coordinator Ray Higgins said the characteristics of the three groups will not be lost in the merger.
“Each state will continue to enjoy its unique relationships, ministries, partnerships and culture, while joining together in a new relationship that will create a stronger collaborative regional presence,” Higgins said. “I am impressed by the wise conversations and sincere prayers that made this vision and decision.”
“Each country will continue to enjoy its unique relationships, ministries, partnerships and culture, joining together in a new relationship that will create a stronger shared regional presence.”
The CBF Mississippi began the process by voting on the merger on September 18, followed by the other two states on October 3.
Members of 15 people The board, once formed, will serve two-year and three-year terms, while moderators, elected moderators and former moderators will rotate annually to ensure each state is regularly represented at the highest levels, Coker said.
“The new staff structure recommended by the research team was to have two permanently coordinated coordinators and one administrative assistant,” Coker said. “The location of these three staff will be determined by the new governing body. Together, the new CBF regional organization will have 39 congregations and dozens of Together for Hope locations. ”
And there are great opportunities for synergy between those sites when merging, he added. “One of the most exciting possibilities is the mission’s focus on Together for the hope that our three countries have had throughout history. This joint mission and focus promises the renewal and transformation of CBF identities in our three states. ”
Kelley said the disaster relief ministry will be another area improved by the merger. “It’s about economies of scale. Before that, we had a hard time with (Hurricane) Ida and (Hurricane) Laura. We are starting to open up from a pandemic and that would give us access to more resources and more volunteers. ”
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