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Church gives & receives support from CP Missions

FRANKLIN, N.C. (BP)–Cooperative Program (CP) Missions is alive and well in this tourist town at the edge of the Smoky Mountains.

A place where musicians, quilters, crafters — and men handy with a chain saw — live and work in a deep valley amid soaring pines and roaring rivers, Franklin, N.C., is as near as the closest telephone to the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

“I can call the North Carolina Baptist state convention office, Nashville, or any SBC [entity], and get my ministry needs met,” said pastor R. Shawn Edwards of Cowee Baptist Church during a conversation at June’s SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis. “That expertise would not be there without the Cooperative Program.”

CP Missions is the process through which Southern Baptists support missions, ministries and seminary education across the globe.

The telephone lines work both ways, the pastor said. Church members routinely are called out on disaster missions emergencies up and down the eastern seaboard and farther west as well. Other churches and people in the community regularly call on Cowee Baptist because of its reputation for missions activity.

“We’re pulling our resources together because we can do more together than we can independently for the Kingdom of God,” Edwards said. “This is something that has to be constantly taught to the younger generation. We cannot take the Cooperative Program for granted. The vision has got to be maintained.”

He knows from personal experience the benefit of Cooperative Program (CP) Missions to the 16 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention. “I know for myself, there was just no way I could have gone to Southern Seminary without the Cooperative Program,” the pastor said of his theological studies at the Louisville, Ky., campus.

Cowee Baptist has been a strong supporter of Southern Baptist mission causes throughout its 176-year history — giving and going as well as praying, Edwards said.


The church gives 10 percent of undesignated offerings to CP missions, plus 5 percent to the local Macon Baptist Association. Several members have children or other relatives on mission fields around the world. Men and women are involved every month in a deliberate missions activity, and prayer is a major emphasis as well.

“They’re just a wonderful group of caring, loving, giving and going people,” Edwards said of the Cowee Baptist congregation. “They just do this out of sharing the love of Christ with no strings attached, and making sure God gets the glory.”


A yearly “Love in Action” initiative is one way Cowee Baptist gets involved in its community. One Saturday each spring for five years now, church members gather for breakfast, prayer and assignments. Their quest: To say “Thank you and we appreciate you” to the community.

Home-baked goodies are passed out to a variety of service workers — law enforcement, postal, garbage, medical and others.

A traveling tea party ministers to the homebound in the community.

Blood pressure and other health checks are offered.

Homes and autos get minor repairs.

“It takes quite a few people to carry it off,” Edwards said. “We do it just to say God loves you to people in the community, to say we’re here and we care about them.”

Similar kinds of hands-on giving goes on throughout the year, depending on the need, the pastor said. For example, men from the church are building a storage shed this summer for the North Carolina Children’s Home, which is in Franklin. Five people from Cowee Baptist recently served on a short-term missions project in Alaska. And each fall, multiple cords of wood are chopped, delivered and stacked for those who otherwise would have minimal heat in the winter.

“Our Baptist Men and Women on Mission groups are very involved in the community,” Edwards said. “They have a passion to share and show the love of Christ through missions.”

This passion starts with prayer, the pastor said.


“It energizes the congregation,” Edwards said. “Not everybody can go to Alaska or on disaster relief but they can pray.”

Yellow prayer concern cards are turned in every Sunday at Cowee Baptist. They are given to a band of prayer warriors who meet in the prayer chamber during the Sunday morning worship service.

“Prayer is a vital, vital thing for the life of this congregation,” the pastor said. “We’re all connected in this community, and whenever anyone has a need we know about, we pray for them. This is well known in the community that although they may not be church members, we pray for them like family — we join with them in prayer.

“This gives them a confidence that there is a caring group of Christians who join with them in their concerns in the best way possible, through prayer to our Heavenly Father,” Edwards continued. “It also says to the person that we care and the greatest way we show we care is that we’re praying for you.”

The community responds by writing thank you notes to the church, which are read aloud during the Sunday morning worship time.

“It’s a vital ministry we have,” the pastor said. “We don’t take prayer lightly.”

Cowee Baptist has started five other churches since its founding in 1828. It gives generously and prays passionately sometimes even for itself. The church –- with 240 in Sunday morning worship — is in the early stages of a building campaign and already more than $160,000 has been raised, about 20 percent of what is needed for a Christian fellowship center.

“The reason we are where we are is because so many members of Cowee have prayed for the church,” the pastor said.

He also lauded the Cooperative Program.

“We benefit in terms of resources,” Edwards said. “I love the fact that thanks to the Cooperative Program I can contact experts in various ministry fields who are able to help me as a pastor, or Cowee Baptist Church, and they wouldn’t otherwise be there if it wasn’t for the Cooperative Program funding their salaries and ministry positions. They either have the resources or can get the resources my church needs at any time.”

And just like Cowee Baptist works with and for its community, the Macon Baptist Association and the Southern Baptist Convention, so does the Cooperative Program, the pastor said.

“The Cooperative Program is not an idol; neither is it to be misused,” Edwards said. “The Cooperative Program simply allows Southern Baptist churches to do much more together for Christ than we could if we were all alone.

“Since 1925 [when CP Missions was started], Southern Baptists have been able to accomplish a lot more for God. As He did with the loaves and fish, God has blessed our Cooperative Program. May we never take His blessings for granted.”