Suzii Paynter speaks with CBF field personnel Anna and LaCount Anderson last spring. Her selection as executive coordinator is one of many major changes at CBF in the past year, Keith Herron said. (Jeff Brumley/ABPnews)
Suzii Paynter speaks with CBF field personnel Anna and LaCount Anderson last spring. Her selection as executive coordinator is one of many major changes at CBF in the past year, Keith Herron said. (Jeff Brumley/ABPnews)

Reflections on a fast-moving year in CBF

Past moderator Keith Herron looks back on what he describes as a hectic-but-rewarding period in CBF history that included selecting new leadership and streamlining the way the Fellowship is structured. 

By Vicki Brown

Helping guide the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship through leadership changes and into a new structure was sometimes an exhausting, sometimes exciting process, said Keith Herron, the organization’s immediate past moderator.

And it went by fast, he added.

“We did a lot in a year,” Herron summarized his stint as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship moderator for 2012-13.

Herron, pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, prayed long and hard before agreeing to become moderator-elect for the national body in June 2012. Moderator-elect is the first year in a three-year commitment for CBF leaders.

herronCBFpic

That first year, Herron said, he understood that then Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal was on the verge of announcing retirement. The 2012 Task Force was in the formative, conversational stage.

As moderator-elect, Herron was involved in determining whether CBF would choose an interim. “We made an intentional decision to fill that spot,” he explained, taking seven months to do so. Pat Anderson was the committee’s choice, and served about nine months. During that year, Suzii Paynter was chosen as the organization’s new executive coordinator.

The task force formulated its report and recommendations during that first year. As Herron stepped into the moderator’s spot, CBF adopted the report. “We had to figure out how to implement it…. We had to find a path…and create a new system,” Herron explained. “We had to think in terms of sequences…and get them in the right order.”

One of his first actions was to help form an implementation team to “create a playbook we could follow…without chaos breaking out.”

They got to work, he said, concentrating first on the legal steps the body might need before changing its organizational structure.

“Once we figured out the legal ramifications. . .  it gave us an idea,” he explained. “We worked backwards from the date of this summer’s General Assembly” to determine when each decision needed to be made. “That helped structure our year.”

Fellowship Baptists left the 2013 General Assembly in Greensboro with a whole new institution.

“We made a huge transition in one year,” Herron said.

“The most difficult was how to, as quickly as possible, make constitution and bylaws changes,” he said. “I thought it might take a couple of years.”

But once the transition committee developed the timeline, they realized changes could be made in a year’s time. “With that major piece [the legal aspect], we were able to do it in two business sessions,” Herron added.

Herron said it was tough, sometimes, balancing the family, church and CBF life.

“Sometimes I went weeks without a day off,” he said.

Holmeswood Baptist gave up a lot, too, Herron added.

“There was a sense in which the church shared it with me,” he said. “For them to say yes, that it was something they should be involved in, was important. I wanted them to share in the decision,” he said.

Now as immediate past moderator, Herron will help launch the Fellowship’s new nominating committee as an ex-officio member. “We’re getting to figure things out as we go…laying the foundation,” he said.

Vicki Brown is associate editor of Word & Way.