By John D. Pierce

Paul Baxley has long been called upon to serve in leadership roles within and beyond the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Today the pastor of First Baptist Church of Athens, Ga., was named the fourth executive coordinator of the 27-year-old network of churches that formed following the fundamentalist siege of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Baxley is regarded as a strategic thinker and team builder who advances causes without self-promotion. However, his excellence as a leader within the Fellowship, nationally and with state CBF organization, hasn’t gone unnoticed — making him the unanimous choice of the 11-member search committee charged with finding a successor to retiring executive coordinator Suzii Paynter.

“Through his pastoral instincts, organizational leadership capacities, deep theological commitments, and belief in the church as our best hope, Paul Baxley will lead the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship into its next chapter,” said Courtney Allen, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., and a member of the search committee, according to a CBF communications release.

A North Carolina native, Baxley came to his current pastorate in 2010 from First Baptist Church of Henderson, N.C. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Duke University Divinity School and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

His vast leadership experiences include two terms on the CBF Governing Board, during which time he chaired the personnel committee and an ad hoc committee charged with the restructuring and staffing of CBF’s global mission efforts.

Search committee member Jackie Baugh Moore, vice president of the Texas-based Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation, said Baxley’s “leadership style reflects deep faith and authenticity.”

“Paul is dedicated to equipping and strengthening theological education, mission work, the church, partner organizations and all of us involved in the life of CBF,” she added. “Please join me in committing to pray for Paul, his family and CBF as we all seek to follow our God-given mission.”

Paul and his wife, Jennifer, have four children: Olivia, 17; Maria, 11; and 8-year-old twins, Caroline and Matthew.

In accepting the call, Baxley, according to the release, said he was aware of both the opportunities and the challenges he will face — and looks forward to the “convening” and “collaboration” ahead.

“CBF exists to bless and serve churches,” he said. “I’m eager to see what kind of powerful collaborations can emerge between CBF pastors, lay leaders, leaders of our partner ministries and our state and regional coordinators.”

Editor’s note: Nurturing Faith ( is a trademarked brand of the independent publishing ministry, Baptists Today, Inc., that voluntarily collaborates with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in providing resources to congregations.

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