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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
ClassificationMainline Protestant
Exec. co-ordinatorPaul Baxley[1]
AssociationsBaptist World Alliance
RegionUnited States
HeadquartersDecatur, Georgia
Separated fromSouthern Baptist Convention
SeminariesBaptist Seminary of Kentucky
Official websitecbf.net

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a Baptist Christian denomination in the United States, established after the conservative resurgence within The Southern Baptist Convention. It is affiliated with the Baptist World Alliance, and headquartered in Decatur, Georgia. According to a census published in 2023, the CBF claimed 1,800 churches and 750,000 members.[2]


The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has its origins in a meeting in Atlanta in 1990 of a group of theologically moderate churches within The Southern Baptist Convention disagreeing about the control of the direction of the convention by fundamentalists, as well as the opposition to the ordination of women.[3][4] The denomination was officially founded in 1991.[5]

By 1996, the fellowship had 1,400 churches and was still affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.[6] In 1998, it began ordaining chaplains.[7]

In 2002, it officially left the Southern Baptist Convention and became a member of the Baptist World Alliance.[8] By 2018, the Kentucky Baptist Convention within the Southern Baptist Convention proceeded with the excommunication of churches having a dual affiliation with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, due to a relaxation allowing hiring of non-executive LGBT staff.[9]

Since the first quarter of the 21st century, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship officially partnered with the National Baptist Convention of America,[10] similar to the American Baptist Churches USA and Progressive National Baptists fellowship agreement of 1970.[11]


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.[12] Alongside the national CBF, there are 19 state and regional organizations that are affiliated with CBF and help provide churches with local resources.[13][14] As of 2015, it has 1 affiliated theological institute, the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.[15]


The denomination has a Baptist confession of faith.[16]

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."[16] The 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, Bible freedom, church freedom, and religious freedom.[16]

Affirmation of women in ministry was one of the founding principles of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.[17] Most CBF members agree that both men and women may be ordained as ministers or deacons and serve as pastors of churches.[18]

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 behavior.[19] 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. [20]


  1. ^ "CBF Staff Directory – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship".
  2. ^ Baptist World Alliance, Members, Baptist world, USA, retrieved May 5, 2023
  3. ^ William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2021, p. 169
  4. ^ Richard Leigh Walker, Southern Baptists: Moderates Form Alternative Fellowship, Christianity today, USA, June 24, 1991
  5. ^ Greg Garrison, Cooperative Baptists, ‘different kind of Baptist,’ meet at BJCC, AL, USA, June 22, 2019
  6. ^ Randy Frame, Cooperative Baptists Reject Formal Break with SBC, Christianity today, USA, August 12, 1996
  7. ^ Aaron Weaver, At 25, CBF still building something new, Baptist news, USA, June 23, 2016
  8. ^ Deborah G Leste, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joins World Alliance, Goupstate, USA, July 19, 2003
  9. ^ Bob Allen, Kentucky Baptist Convention formally excludes churches dually aligned with CBF, baptistnews.com, USA, November 14, 2018
  10. ^ "Cooperative Baptist Fellowship – NBCA". Retrieved 2023-04-30. This partnership affords NBCA to engage in multi- racial experiences of worship, fellowship, disaster relief, educational advancement and healthy dialogue that brings about oneness in the body of Christ. Local member NBCA and CBF churches develop stronger ties for the work they embark upon together to the Glory of God.
  11. ^ "PNBC 1970 Minutes" (PDF). Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives. 1970. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  12. ^ "Churches – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  13. ^ "States and Regions – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  14. ^ "State/Regional Organizations - Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". www.cbfevents.org. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  15. ^ Bob Allen, Kentucky seminary celebrates commencement, accreditation, baptistnews.com, USA, August 11, 2015
  16. ^ a b c "Who We Are". Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  17. ^ 2 Jan 2010 About Us, CBF Archived 2010-11-30 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ Bob Allen, Analysis: A timeline of CBF’s LGBTQ debate, baptistnews.com, USA, July 7, 2016
  20. ^ Bojangles Blanchard, Breakfast at CBF Launches Network for LGBTQ Inclusion, goodfaithmedia.org, USA, June 21, 2018

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