By John D. Pierce

Shortly after the formation of the more open and historically principled Cooperative Baptist Fellowship nearly three decades ago, some naysayers were quick to predict its demise.

It was popular during the developing years to hear someone pontificate: “It’s a one-generation movement.”


The presence of gray hair was seen as a weakness rather than a rightful strength. And ministries to and with younger persons — including Passport Camps, theological education, mission and church service opportunities — emerged quickly and well.

Ryan Bratton and Margaret McDonald are among the young leaders ages 18-25 who were recognized by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Today those earlier self-appointed prognosticators are gray, gone or otherwise silenced by their miscalculations.

Younger Baptists are all over the place at the CBF General Assembly in Birmingham this week.

To highlight the youthful Fellowship faces, 25 young Baptist leaders were recognized this morning for their unique contributions and witness. Yet they are but a few among the many who bring gifts, visions and energies unhampered by the miscalculation of those who didn’t see them coming.

The pessimists were wrong. These young and emerging leaders are everything right about the church and its future.

But this new course is not for them alone. Inter-generational engagement enhances our individual lives and shared missions — regardless of age or hair color.



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