By: Colin Harris
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. Intentionally not defining itself as a “denomination,” it has been, as the name implies, a “cooperative fellowship” of Baptist congregations joined in a common commitment and witness to a ministry and mission that embraces the historic Baptist principles of religious liberty, local church autonomy, and the priesthood of the believer. The CBF emphasis is on the right and responsibility of each person to study and interpret Scripture and the faith journey as the Spirit leads and the responsibility to minister in ways that employ one’s personal calling and profile of gifts.
Since its beginning, 20 years before the founding of the CBF, Smoke Rise has been a “CBF kind of church;” and throughout the 25 years of CBF’s history, members and ministers of our congregation have been actively involved in its life. At present, 10 current and retired staff members of the national CBF office, located in Decatur, call Smoke Rise their church home.
The “Baptist” label identifies a wide variety of groups; and, by its nature and history, the Baptist tradition is quite diverse. Our church family’s character, nurtured over the near half century of its history by the hundreds of saints who have been the presence of Christ in all of life’s seasons, has aligned us with the other churches who make up the CBF. By the legacy we share, and the future we envision, we are joining with them, saying clearly, “This is the kind of Baptists we are.”