Why I’m Leaving the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

I’ve discussed my history as a baptist frequently here on my blog. As I’ve said before, I view being baptist as something philosophical along with religious implications. We don’t ascribe to denominational structures generally. The concept of associations, conventions, and fellowships take the place of otherwise normal ecclesiastical structures in how we operate.

I’ve also talked about my disappointments in my own fellowship or group, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The way that the Illumination Project was handled, considered, presented, and marketed was embarrassing and damaging to many of our brothers and sisters. I’ve been deeply troubled by how many incredible female pastors have left our fellowship here in South Carolina for other states and areas due to lack of support from the CBF. I continue to scratch my head at tone-deaf moves like when the CBF went on with an Earth Day Zoom call on the evening after the George Floyd murder conviction.

The CBF is a traditionally white moderate fellowship. It has made too many moves to “both sides” cultural issues and attempt to keep the status quo happy and complacent instead of attempting to be a prophetical group of truth-tellers. It has focused too much on the first and second generation of leaders and pastors and congregations that joined in the early ’90’s and not shown clear and consistent care for new pastors or congregations (especially those who aren’t cis-het white males). Martin Luther King Jr wisely admonished us about the hindrance that white moderates cause to groups seeking justice rather than order. Yes, the CBF does amazing work in certain areas (why I was a CBF advocate for so long), but I can no longer play along.

That’s been especially apparent to me when I’ve received the occasional email, text, or phone call asking me to take down a critical post or talk to this person or that person in leadership regarding something “controversial” I’ve said. I first joined the CBF in 2004 or so, and I’ve had my share of these types of interactions with leadership. And it sucks.

So that made my (needless) dust-up here with Aaron Weaver, CBF’s Communications Director, last weekend on Twitter regarding CBF holding that Earth Day chat (not on Earth Day… also, Earth Day is a colonial product of white assuaging of actual engagement with our responsibilities) even more disappointing.

And it displays a repeated pattern of feigning interest then being dismissive without addressing the actual concerns.

I’ve had so many of these types of “charitable” interactions with CBF insiders and leadership over the years. I’ve heard so many stories from others who have had similar “conversations” with those in CBF leadership. And it’s enough. I’m done with the “I can put you in touch with this person” type treatment and general dismissiveness of the CBF’s leadership.

Am I a pugnacious righteously indignant jerk? Yeah. I get that. But being dismissed and told to hush or edit or change a post about something you really care about (like the concept of the CBF for me) time and again by leaders is just too much.

So, I’ll take my opinions and ordination certificate elsewhere for now. Perhaps the Alliance of Baptists or a Quaker group. Maybe I’ll return to my Methodist or UCC roots (where my partner is a Pastor). We’ll see.

For now, I’m so disappointed in the CBF and hoped for better but can no longer entertain that sort of hurtful leadership.

So long, and “thanks” for the all the fish.

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