Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Leader visits Chowan University
Suzii Paynter, Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), visited Chowan University on March 14, 2018, and shared her experiences and insight with students and community members.
A nationally recognized faith leader, ordained deacon, and Sunday school teacher of more than 40 years, Paynter has held positions of leadership in Baptist churches in Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi. Paynter has a national reputation for advocacy on ethical issues that include religious liberty, hunger and poverty, human trafficking, immigration reform, and the environment. Paynter currently represents Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a network of roughly 1,800 congregations, thousands of individuals and dozens of partners across the world who support missions and ministries that give people opportunities to put their faith to action.
As Paynter shared with Chowan University students during her visit, she was not always involved in advocacy. Her participation began out of necessity when a Texas Senator announced his intention to shut down all colleges of education across the state. Paynter, a mom of two in Waco, TX, who taught reading in the college of education at Baylor University was asked to help insure the bill was not passed. After traveling to the state capital to meet with a political consultant for guidance, Paynter was left feeling inapt to the task, until she recognized the power of the connection she had with her former students, who are now teachers. This revelation illuminated the relationship that all teachers have with their students.
There were 17 senators who would vote on the bill to close all state colleges of education. Paynter made it her mission to find the first-grade teacher of each senator. From there, each teacher contacted their former student and discussed the bill with the objective to persuade them against it. When it was time for the senators to vote, the bill was unanimously dismissed.
This unexpected opportunity was the beginning of Paynter’s involvement in advocacy. She revised the bill to support the colleges of education, and has since worked on hundreds of bills in the state of Texas. Her message to students was, “Pray for God to use you, and He will, sometimes in the least expected way.”
After the presentation, Paynter hosted a question and answer session with local pastors and students. She answered questions about the direction of CBF, and shared more of her personal experiences with the group. “It is a joy for me to be on this campus. I have been a supporter of your president, of the vision of this University, of the empowerment of Christian leaders in this country, and I see the fruit of the education and the lives that have been shaped and formed. I see the power of an institution to bring together the gifts of people, and I am so grateful to finally get to be here myself and enjoy the community you share,” Paynter stated.