History and Rationale
In August 2005, the Missions Workgroup of CBF Kentucky met to further develop their strategic plan and set missions goals for the future. Included in the report from that meeting was a statement about establishing a Global Missions Partnership.
The Missions Workgroup established a team to investigate partnership options. The team included the following individuals: Lynn Smith (chair), Latonia Baptist, Covington; Robert Davis, Crescent Hill Baptist, Louisville; Fritz Gutwein, Crescent Hill Baptist, Louisville; and Rhonda Abbott Blevins, ex-officio. The team investigated two primary partnerships, one with CBF Field Personnel in Kiev, and the other in Morocco. During this discernment process, Karen Thomas Smith, a pastor with the Eglise Evangelique au Maroc and friend of CBF, submitted a partnership proposal to the team. Because of this strong, field-based request and deeper connections to pastors in Morocco, the team chose to further investigate a partnership with Morocco with an association of churches, the EEAM.
Karen Thomas Smith met with the team, answered questions and presented information. The team chose to enlist a "Discovery Team" who would go to Morocco and meet with leaders of the EEAM and further investigate the plausibility of a partnership between CBF/KY and EEAM. Charlotte Benningfield, Third Baptist, Owensboro; Mark Nethery, Buechel Park Baptist, Louisville; Carl Smith, Latonia Baptist, Covington; and Rhonda Abbott Blevins made the trip in March of 2006.
Through the leadership of then Associate Coordinator for Missions Rhonda Abbott Blevins, CBF Kentucky entered into a formal partnership with the Eglise Evangelique au Maroc (EEAM) in 2006. The EEAM was already in partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as they funded the work of David and Julie Brown. Additionally, Karen Thomas Smith, a recognized pastor of the EEAM serving as chaplain of Al Akhawayn University, has strong CBF Kentucky ties. Karen is a Kentucky native who has been actively involved in CBF since its inception in 1991 in Atlanta; her father, Joe Thomas, served as associate minister at Third Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky for several years.
Why the Elise Evangelique au Maroc?
The Eglise Evangelique au Maroc is the successor to the one recognized Protestant church existing in Morocco under colonial rule (1905-1956), the Eglise Reformee de France (The Reformed Church of France). At independence, members of the church who stayed in Morocco determined to form a church welcoming to all Protestants, hence the change in name, dropping the titles "Reformed" and employing the wider term "Evangelique", evangelical in the classic sense of that term (not the 20th century American definition).
The EEAM remains the official Protestant Church in the country. Moroccan house churches (like Moroccan Christians) do not have a legal status in the country, though the government is fully aware of their existence.
In joining with the EEAM, CBF Kentucky has the advantage of being united with a whole church (with nine parishes in Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Oujda, Fez, Meknes, Kenitra, Marrakesh, and Agadir) committed to long-term ministry in its Moroccan context. Additionally, by uniting with the EEAM, KBF/KY joins a truly international team. The EEAM congregations are primarily composed of sub-Saharan Africans from more than 15 countries. The congregations also include Europeans, North Americans, South Americans, and Asians.
2006 CBF/KY Discovery Trip Findings:
Church Based: The partnership pairs CBF/KY, a network of churches, alongside a network of churches in Morocco, the EEAM
Legal: The parishes of the EEAM exist in separate cities in Morocco. These churches are legally recognized, which is significant in a Muslim country.
French-speaking: The congregations are predominantly French-speaking.
Refugee crisis: One of the main initiatives of the EEAM is to work as the Church in the midst of the refugee crisis in Morocco. Over 30,000 sub-Saharan African refugees are currently in Morocco. Most of them are in very dire situations.
CBF KENTUCKY/EEAM Background
The church in Morocco stands in the crossroads; it is pivotal geographically and culturally. The EEAM has a unique opportunity to influence the nations through providing sound religious discipleship to thousands of students from across Africa studying in Morocco. Many of these students will have major leadership roles in their own nations upon their return.
As CBF Kentucky comes alongside the ten EEAM churches, we can genuinely impact the world in the name of Jesus.
In the nature of genuine partnership, the Moroccan congregations have much to offer our Kentucky churches. They are teaching us much about Muslim/Christian relations; they are modeling multiculturalism and ecumenism for the church in the midst of rapid globalization. EEAM churches are exceptional hosts when Kentucky groups take partnership trips.
Nine CBF Kentucky churches are in a church-to-church partnership with EEAM congregations. These are (click each church for more information):
Each church-to-church partnership has taken on their own unique flavor. Several Kentucky churches have taken groups for various projects. Opportunities for church-to-church partnerships include:
Sponsoring a pastoral intern;
Providing Bibles for the congregation;
Holding a joint choir tour;
Hosting the choir or a team from the sister church;
Supporting the theological education for a pastor in training;
Providing worship resources;
Providing educational curriculum
Supporting the CEI team in the congregation.
Prayer is the cornerstone of our partnership with the Eglise Evangelique au Maroc. So pray….
…for the Christian community’s relationship with the government of Morocco.
…for refugee house churches with no legal status.
…for Muslim/Christian relations in Morocco.
…for unity between the EEAM (Protestant Church of Morocco) and other Christian groups.
…for over 300,000 Central African refugees still marching toward Morocco.
…for over 30,000 refugees currently in Morocco.
…for the EEAM as they minister and train students who will one day return to their own countries as church leaders.
…for EEAM churches as theuy continue to seek out ways to provide theological education to church leaders.
…for churches working together as culturally and religiously diverse congregations.
…for teams and volunteers ministering to refugees.
…for the leadership of the EEAM.
…the Kentucky Churches and their Morocco partner churches