CBF Fellows

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2016 2018 Fellows Cohort

Empowering Young CBF Clergy To Thrive in ministry

The CBF Fellows program assists young Baptists clergy who are in their "first-call" in making a healthy transition from seminary to congregational ministry. The goal of CBF Fellows is to offer these young Baptist ministers essential resources not just to guard against burnout or isolation, but to empower them to thrive as congregational ministers. A second and equally important goal is for CBF to support and engage each Fellows congregation during the cohort encouraging them as they discern the best way to nurture the minister that God has called to serve in their community.

CBF Fellows seeks to build upon the foundation laid during the crucial training years of seminary and divinity school to help congregational ministers connect the academic to the practical work of the church. As a two-year cohort, CBF Fellows are provided with practical resources which consist of six face-to-face gatherings, peer learning & guidance in-between sessions, individual sessions with a trained coach, and learning experiences designed around on-going CBF events to allow for maximum exposure to CBF staff and resources. To increase the program's reach and effectiveness, congregations commit to providing a Minister Encouragement Team for their Fellow. This team provides regular encouragement adn stability to the minister which helps to sustain her or him not only between Fellows Cohort gatherings, but as a young congregational minister. 

Helping Young CBF Clergy Make a Healthy Transition from Seminary to Congregational Ministry

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In 2011, CBF received a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment for its Transitions to Ministry Program. This grant, along with ideas and leadership in CBF,  gave life to a program to come alongside recent graduates of seminary and divinity schools who have a lifelong call to serve as congregational ministers. After an inital pilot program, the first cohort of 25 CBF Fellows was formed in 2012.  Thanks in large part to the Lilly Endowment, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Center for Congregational Health - CBF Fellows exists today as a premiere program for young CBF Baptists who love the congregation and want to thrive in their calling to serve God and their community. CBF has supported 63 Fellows and their congregations by encouraging, learning from, and inspiring one another. 

CBF Fellows have graduated from Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Campbell University Divinity School, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Duke Divinity School, Gardner-Webb School of Divinity, Logsdon School of Theology at Hardin-Simmons University, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University,  and Wake Forest University Divinity School.

Faculty and mentors for CBF Fellows have included: Ka'thy Gore Chappell (CBF North Carolina), Mary Christopher (Hardin-Simmons University), Stephen Cook (Second Baptist, TN), Brian Foreman (Campbell University Divinity School), Chris Gambill (Center for Congregational Health), Terry Hamrick (CBF), Beth Kennett (Center for Congregational Health), Ruth Perkins Lee (CBF),Brent McDougal (Cliff Temple Baptist, TX), Brian McLaren (Author, Speaker, Activist), Suzii Paynter (CBF), Devita Parnell (CBF), Bo Prosser (CBF), Brittany Riddle (Vinton Baptist, VA), Susan Rogers (The Well at Springfield, FL), Harry Rowland (CBF), Gary Skeen (Church Benefits Board), and Bill Wilson (Center for Healthy Churches).

Who are CBF Fellows? 

CBF Fellows are clergy who are committed to life-long congregational ministry as their vocational calling.  They are Christian clergy who have graduated or will graduate from an accredited seminary or divinity school within the past five years. They are individual members of CBF and/or members of a CBF partner congregation. They are people who are willing to learn from their peers sharing life together with them as they navigate the joys and sorrows of congregational ministry. CBF Fellows are also part of nurturing communities of faith that understand vocational ministry is a unique calling given by God - both to the person and to the congregation. Laity are essential to the wellbeing of ministers as they offer collaborative feedback and guidance so that both the minister and the congregation thrive in these early years together. 



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Recent seminary/divinity school graduates (within the past five years, preferably) or soon-to-be graduates who have expressed a clear call to serve vocationally in the local congregation as minister are invited to apply. Applications are received online October 1 - December 31. New Cohorts begin in August of even numbered years and are announced in June at General Assembly.  CBF Fellows Cohorts last for 22 months running from August through June of the second year.

Click the link to apply below. If you would like more information about CBF Fellows, contact Josh Speight, Director of CBF Fellows at jspeight@cbf.net or 770-220-1637. 



The 2018-2020 Cohort application period Is closed. The next open application period will be in the fall of 2019.

CBF Fellows Application Guidelines

CBF Fellows Application Timeline

CBF Fellows Important Dates

CBF Fellows Covenant (Minister, Congregation, CBF)




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