Suzii Paynter has initiated a process to transition out of her role as executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

“CBF is at a great place and poised for even greater impact,” Paynter said in a July 19 press release announcing her decision. “Thinking of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes that ‘to all things there is a season,’ I have been led to explore the options available to me as I plan my retirement from the CBF Executive Coordinator position.”

The native Texan’s tenure began in March 2013, when she became the third executive coordinator in the history of the Atlanta-based organization.

Cecil Sherman served in this role from 1992 to 1996, followed by Daniel Vestal from 1996 to 2012.

“Suzii has been the right leader at the right time for CBF,” said CBF moderator Gary Dollar in the press release. “We will miss her phenomenal leadership and energy, but we are optimistic about the future because we know Suzii built a solid foundation that will give our next leader an exciting opportunity to expand on our mission.”

Soon after being nominated in early 2013 to lead CBF, Paynter spoke with media producer Cliff Vaughn.

Working to make CBF “a more nimble, and cooperative, and collaborative organization” would be a central element of her role, she told Vaughn.

Building bridges with partners around the world would be another emphasis, as well as focusing on the intersection between missions, justice and advocacy.

During her tenure, Paynter traveled extensively to visit CBF-affiliated churches and partnering organizations, established an advocacy position at CBF national, supervised the restructuring of CBF Global Missions, completed a more than $12 million fundraising campaign with half earmarked for global missions and helped establish or expand a number of initiatives, including the Latino Network, Fellowship Southwest and the McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative.

In July 2016, Paynter and the CBF Governing Board launched the Illumination Project (IP) to listen to the diverse perspectives in CBF life on matters of human sexuality.

The IP committee’s findings and recommendations were released in February 2018, resulting in the removal of language that specifically prohibited the hiring of LGBTQI persons from the organization’s hiring policy.

Though not adopted as policy, an implementation procedure was published that excluded LGBTQI persons from certain positions.’s exclusive multipart interview with Paynter and members of the IP committee is available here.

An 11-member search committee – comprised of clergy and laity in CBF-affiliated congregations and including two ex officio members – has been established with the formal search process to begin in August.

“Suzii Paynter has been an incredible leader for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” said Mitch Randall, executive director of “Serving as the first female executive coordinator for the fellowship, Suzii provided a clear vision for the future, a collegial spirit of inclusiveness and a theological conviction for social justice. She embodied the ideal attributes of a strong and graceful leader.”

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