Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship logo.png
ClassificationMainline Protestant
AssociationsBaptist World Alliance
RegionUnited States
HeadquartersDecatur, Georgia
Separated fromSouthern Baptist Convention

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a Baptist Christian denomination in the United States. It is affiliated with the Baptist World Alliance. The headquarters is in Decatur, Georgia.


The Cooperative Baptist Association has its origins in a meeting in Atlanta in 1990 of a group of moderate churches of the Southern Baptist Convention at odds with the denomination for its conservatism on issues such as opposition to the ordination of women.[1][2] It was officially founded in 1991.[3] As of 1996, the association had 1,400 churches and was still affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.[4] In 1998, it began ordaining chaplains.[5] In 2002, it officially left the Southern Baptist Convention and became a member of the Baptist World Alliance.[6] According to a denomination census released in 2020, it claimed 1,800 churches and 750,000 members.[7]


The denomination has a Baptist confession of faith.[8]

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, like the Southern Baptist Convention from which it split, does not enforce particular beliefs upon congregations, as is congruent with traditional Baptist theology. The Fellowship's "understanding of Baptist faith and practice is expressed by [their] emphasis on freedom in biblical interpretation and congregational governance, the participation of women and men in all aspects of church leadership and Christian ministry, and religious liberty for all people."[8] CBF also ascribes to the "Four Fragile Freedoms" as developed in The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms by Walter Shurden. CBF interprets these freedoms as:

  • Soul Freedom: We believe in the priesthood of all believers and affirm the freedom and responsibility of every person to relate directly to God without the imposition of creed or the control of clergy or government.
  • Bible Freedom: We believe in the authority of Scripture. We believe the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, is central to the life of the individual and the church. We affirm the freedom and right of every Christian to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
  • Church Freedom: We believe in the autonomy of every local church. We believe Baptist churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate as they deem appropriate in the larger body of Christ.
  • Religious Freedom: We believe in the freedom of religion, freedom for religion, and freedom from religion. We support the separation of church and state.[8]

Affirmation of women in ministry was one of the founding principles of the Fellowship.[9] Most CBF members agree that both men and women may be ordained as ministers or deacons and serve as pastors of churches.[10]

On social issues, the CBF does not issue position statements. CBF members agree that as it is a fellowship of autonomous churches, issuing statements would be beyond its purpose. It does have an organizational policy on homosexual behaviour.[11]However, CBF policies are not binding on individual congregations which make their own decisions regarding any issue; neither can a congregation be excluded from the CBF for disagreeing with core values or policies. In 2016, the CBF co-sponsored a conference on sexuality and initiated the "'Illumination Project' approved by the Governing Board (formerly the Coordinating Council) to develop models for the Fellowship community to air differences not only about the hiring ban but also other hot-button issues dividing churches, denominations and society". In 2018, the Affirming Network for full LGBTQ inclusion and affirmation was founded. [12]

State and regional organizations[edit]

Map of 18/19 of the Regional and State organizations affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

There are CBF-affiliated churches in 43 out of the 50 states.[13] Alongside the national CBF, there are 19 state and regional organizations that are affiliated with CBF and help provide churches with resources at a more local level[14][15]

Affiliated seminaries[edit]

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has had ministers educated at a wide variety of Seminaries and Divinity schools. Institutions both Historically Baptist and those with other denominational affiliations.[16]


In 2018, the Kentucky Baptist Convention (Southern Baptist Convention) proceeded to excommunications of churches having a dual affiliation with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, due to a relaxation allowing hiring of non-executive LGBT staff. [17]


  1. ^ William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2020, p. 169
  2. ^ Richard Leigh Walker, Southern Baptists: Moderates Form Alternative Fellowship, Christianity today, USA, June 24, 1991
  3. ^ Greg Garrison, Cooperative Baptists, ‘different kind of Baptist,’ meet at BJCC, AL, USA, June 22, 2019
  4. ^ Randy Frame, Cooperative Baptists Reject Formal Break with SBC, Christianity today, USA, August 12, 1996
  5. ^ Aaron Weaver, At 25, CBF still building something new, Baptist news, USA, June 23, 2016
  6. ^ Deborah G Leste, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joins World Alliance, Goupstate, USA, July 19, 2003
  7. ^ Baptist World Alliance, Members, Baptist world, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  8. ^ a b c "Who We Are". Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  9. ^ 2 Jan 2010 About Us, CBF Archived 2010-11-30 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Southern Baptist Convention Differences: A Conversation with CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal". Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  11. ^ Bob Allen, Analysis: A timeline of CBF’s LGBTQ debate,, USA, July 7, 2016
  12. ^ Bojangles Blanchard, Breakfast at CBF Launches Network for LGBTQ Inclusion,, USA, June 21, 2018
  13. ^ "Churches – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  14. ^ "States and Regions – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  15. ^ "State/Regional Organizations - Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  16. ^ "Seminary Resources – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  17. ^ Bob Allen, Kentucky Baptist Convention formally excludes churches dually aligned with CBF,, USA, November 14, 2018

External links[edit]