The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will hold a period for open comment on a proposal to define the way the moderate organization relates to partner ministry organizations.

After 19 months of work, a CBF Partner Study Committee presented a series of guidelines to the group’s Coordinating Council last week. Following the public-comment period, the document is expected to come for final vote at the council’s meeting June 29.

The full committee report is posted on the Fellowship’s Web site at Responses will be received through April 15 and should be directed to study committee chairman Charles Cantrell via e-mail at or by mail at P.O. Box 1030, Mountain View, Mo., 65548.

Changes include formalizing partnerships with written covenants, regular review and stated expectations for partners. Among those expectations, partners must “acknowledge the Fellowship’s involvement in their work.”

The guidelines also call for capping the amount of CBF funding to any partner at 20 percent. That would reduce funding to some historic partners, including the Baptist Center for Ethics.

Another proposal in the report limits “institutional” funding to three to five theological education partners. Schools not designated “identity” partners could still receive scholarships for students and funding for joint initiatives.

Currently the CBF includes funding for 13 theological schools.

CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal predicted the Partner Study Committee’s work “is going to begin a public conversation among us that will go in some ways to the very core of our being.”

“CBF does not exist to serve itself or its partners,” Vestal said in his report to the Coordinating Council. “It exists to serve churches.”

“The old denominational convention model where churches supported and served the convention/denomination and its agencies is over,” Vestal said in a CBF news release. “The day of entitlement for denominational agencies is over.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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