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Chinese-American pastor elected moderator of CBF

BIRMINGHAM (BP)–Participants at the annual general assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship approved the nomination of the organization’s first Chinese-American moderator-elect in Birmingham, Ala., June 25.

Joy Yee, senior pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church in San Francisco, Calif., will occupy the post in 2005 and serve as moderator in the following year. Under the CBF’s structure, the moderator-elect presides over the fellowship’s general assembly and coordinating council in the absence of the moderator.

Bob Setzer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Macon, Ga., currently serves as moderator. His one-year term began June 26. Moderator is the highest position that CBF participants can hold. Each year, the fellowship rotates the position between clergy and laity and according to gender.

This year’s moderator was Cynthia Holmes, a St. Louis attorney and trustee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Approximately 800 CBF participants also approved the fellowship’s budget of $16 million during an afternoon business session. That budget includes an increase in funding from $20,000 to $40,000 for the Baptist World Alliance. In a second offering on the assembly floor, participants collected another $14,174 for the BWA, bringing the two-day total BWA offering to nearly $48,000. Participants had given $33,495 in an earlier offering.

Last year, participants collected $175,000 for the fellowship’s rural poverty initiative in similar offerings in Charlotte, N.C.

Proceeds from the evening offering benefited the BWA’s hunger relief fund, which BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz referred to as “trustworthy.”

“The money will go where it needs to go,” Lotz said.

Earlier in the assembly, CBF participants gave Lotz a standing ovation. He said that the applause was not for him but for Baptists who last year in Rio de Janeiro “affirmed the principle of voluntary association.”

The CBF was admitted to the BWA last year. Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention had asked that the CBF not be admitted to the BWA because it had not declared itself an entity fully separate from the SBC. The admission of the CBF and the failure of BWA leadership to address the theological concerns of the SBC led the convention to withdraw from the world Baptist body June 15.

CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal addressed the fellowship June 25 and encouraged participants to love one another despite their theological and political differences.

“Can we be the presence of Christ to those with whom we differ over the Iraqi war, abortion, homosexuality, Democratic or Republican politics or stem cell research?” Vestal asked. “God, in beauty and power, has a way of blending our differences into a symphony where each of us will follow the conductor.”

Total registration at the CBF reached 2,397 before the assembly ended.

In other business, the CBF:

— appointed 11 new missionary personnel, bringing its total number of global missions personnel to 146.

— voted to become a charter member of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., an ecumenical organization comprised of Mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and Methodist and Baptist churches.

— announced that the assets of the CBF foundation had grown $4 million to $29 million.

— appointed two emissaries to the BWA. CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal and Emmanuel McCall, a CBF Coordinating Council member and pastor of Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in College Park, Ga., will attend future BWA congresses.

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  • Gregory Tomlin