Paul Baxley, a Baptist minister in Georgia, has been selected to lead the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia, since 2010, he received a unanimous recommendation from an 11-member search committee and unanimous approval from CBF’s governing board.

“CBF’s Executive Coordinator Search Committee made a wise choice in calling Paul Baxley,” said Mitch Randall,’s executive director. “Paul is a thoughtful, kind and steady leader that will help take the Fellowship into its next generation of ministry. At EthicsDaily, we very much look forward to working with him.”

Baxley is the fourth executive coordinator in the organization’s history, following the tenure of Suzii Paynter (2013-2018) who announced in July 2018 her plans to leave the executive coordinator role.

“As a pastor, he has the respect and admiration of generations across CBF life. His wisdom and energy are gifts that he generously contributes in every endeavor,” Paynter said in a CBF press release announcing the decision. “Personally, he is a true friend and warmly regarded colleague. One keystone of his leadership is building consensus and participation by charting a purposeful course worthy of engagement.”

Prior to Paynter, the “denomi-network” was led by Daniel Vestal (1996-2012) and Cecil Sherman (1992-1996).

Having served on numerous CBF committees and boards – including the governing board (2013-2017) and the Illumination Project (2016-2018) – Baxley is well-known within the organization’s network and familiar with the challenges and opportunities facing CBF and its partner organizations and affiliated congregations.

“I accept the call of the Governing Board and this calling from God, with the opportunities and challenges that I know they both hold,” he said in CBF’s press release. “I’m aware of all the research about the state of congregations and denominations in the Western world. I’m aware that every day won’t be easy and that every question won’t be soft.

“But I’m not afraid. Instead, I’m confident because I have this conviction, the God who raised Jesus from the dead and who has carried his people through 2,000 years of challenge and adversity, much of it our own making, is still in the business of drawing the world to divine love through us.”

The North Carolina native has served churches in his home state, as well as Georgia and Virginia, serving on boards and committees of Baptist schools and organizations in all three states.

He has degrees from Wake Forest University (Bachelor of Arts – Religion, 1991), Duke Divinity School (Master of Theological Studies, 1996) and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (Doctor of Ministry, 2003).

CBF has published additional information about Baxley here.

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