John Lepper and I traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona to meet with the Together For Hope Council this week. What is the Together For Hope Council? It is a loosely structured leadership platform that provides support, networking and voice to the ongoing work that is CBF’s Rural Poverty Initiative begun twelve years ago in some of the poorest counties in the United States. For Kentucky, this includes our partnerships in McCreary County, Owsley County, and Nada.
Led by Together For Hope Manager Stephanie Vance, the council is composed of CBF state and regional leadership, field personnel, a local leadership from many of the TFH counties. Glenn Foster, Coordinator for CBF West, invited the council to visit Arizona in order to introduce this group to a possible partnership with the Navajo nation through Greg Long and his congregation Selah, a CBF Fellowship church near Flagstaff. Greg introduced us to the ongoing struggles of the Nation and shared his dreams for a hopeful future.
While in Flagstaff we also heard from CBF Interim Coordinator for Global Missions Jim Smith and CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter. They shared their hopes for the future of TFH and CBF. Listening to Suzii, it is very easy to see why she is leading CBF at this time - she speaks with passion and with a focused vision. Together for Hope has been and continues to be a source of great pride for CBF; it is a lab for collaboration, community development, and living out our call to be the hands and feet of Jesus. For Suzii, she sees TFH as an opportunity for CBF to capitalize on to brand ourselves for our congregations and to the larger community. Together For Hope is something that we as a movement do well - not because anyone of us own it - but because it is a shared initiative among states, regions, field personnel, and community leaders living in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, the Rio Grande Valley, the Dakota Plains, and so many places in between.
If you have not discovered the good work accomplished in the past twelves years through CBF’s Together For Hope partnership, I encourage you to contact me. I am happy to share the Together For Hope story with you about Kentucky or other locations in which your congregation can get involved for transformational relationship building. When you support the work of Kentucky Baptist Fellowship and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, you are supporting partnership initiatives like Together For Hope - a partnership that is building hope in the name of Christ.