CBF moderator praises refusal to wear skinny jean theology

FORT WORTH–Messengers to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly meeting June 20-23 heard Moderator Colleen Burroughs describe a “full-blown ecclesiastical earthquake” that led to the formation of CBF in 1991. She told of “prophets” who sang a lullaby to the generation that had no memory of the “holy war” that “made our family name a laughing stock.”

Borrowing from her memory of “love notes” from her mother that were tucked away in her suitcase as she headed off to boarding school, Burroughs offered her own love letter to the now-grown child of CBF, expressing gratitude at having been born in a world without borders to “resist being defined by traditional models of being Baptist.”

Instead, she said, describing that CBF offspring, “You don’t sign on the dotted line. You refuse to paint your lips red with creeds or wear skinny jean theology that flatters no one and just makes you unable to breathe,” prompting laughter and applause from her audience of about 600 messengers and guests to the Friday morning business session.

With networks and partners that “escape conventional definition–even when your critics try to press you down,” Burroughs encouraged the next generation of CBF leaders not to worry when they are misunderstood. “From the moment you were born you refused easy identifiers that would confine you inside the walls of another institutional McMansion.”

Instead, that once-every-500-years earthquake shook the foundation of every brick and mortar religious institution, she aid. “We didn’t construct walls for you on purpose. The fluid, nimble nature of your networks and partners’ identity is actually what will save you from sure destruction.”

While CBF parents dreamed about what the child would become, Burroughs said, “Now, on your twenty-first birthday, you have grown into a beautiful young mother yourself, having given life to countless children who fill in your address as the only Baptist home they have ever known.”

Instead of recalling “a holy war,” she said their “Baptist family photo albums only include the images of you living and working among the invisible people that Jesus never overlooked, citing CBF ministry in Haiti, New York City, Miami and Romania.

A “neighborhood full of seminaries” now cultivate “even more neighborhoods of ministers trained to think critically about the Bible and theology,” carrying with them the saving gospel of Jesus Christ with “their GPS locked on Micah 6:8.”

Praising the evidence of celebrating their giftedness “just like we knew you would back when women were not allowed to preach,” Burroughs said, “You’re doing it. You have become exactly what we dreamed you would become.”

She reminded the child to remember her first name, urging her children “to cooperate and work together” in spite of their diversity. “If you keep your hands extended and heart wide open, believing in what God has in store for you as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, your children’s children will be singing our lullaby a long, long time from now,” she added, describing the song as a way to be gracious, thoughtful, hard-working and risk-taking so that all children will be blessed.

Burroughs is vice-president of an international student ministry known as Passport, Inc., a non-profit she founded with her husband, David, in 1993 at the invitation of the CBF of Florida.

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