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Why have a Baptist Association?

CABA was formed in 2013 out of two associations. The concept of Baptist associations in what became the SBC in 1845 was started in Charleston, So. Car., in 1751.

George Bullard retired last year as the associational director for Columbia, So. Car. He writes a column for The Baptist Paper these days across the SBC. He says our Baptist life has a vacuum when the denomination, state, and association do not carry out their distinctive roles.

CABA networks solutions between churches extremely well. The association’s leaders don’t have all the answers, but the Lord has answers in our churches. Bringing people together to develop a dynamic leadership network is CABA’s priority. With more than 120 churches, this creates a great opportunity for learning and growing, as well as helping and healing.

We’re family! Bullard said that each of the three dimensions of SBC denominational life have a distinctive kinship relationship with congregations. “If associations are Family to congregations, state conventions are a Friend, and SBC entities are an Acquaintance,” Bullard said.

Rick Curtis, a NAMB consultant that works with associational leaders, was quoted recently at the NAMB RePlant Lab, “The Associational Mission Strategist is the single most important denominational position in the SBC.”

Although an association is not a missionary-sending entity, we are a unique missional organization. We must “avoid SBC conformity,” Bullard said. “When associations conform to their state convention and the national agencies and institutions, they lack clear vision.” In other words, we are grassroots and connect on a more intimate level. I think this is why the SBC is increasingly appreciating its associations.

CABA only receives funds from affiliated churches. Since the association IS the churches, then the churches must fund the work of CABA--and do. However, since CABA's inception, church contributions have continued to decline little-by-little. As Bullard says, “We are a member-based type of organization regarding finances.” Increasing by one percent brings huge changes.

Finally, the Baptist association is local. “Contextual strategies” as Bullard describes it, make the association the only one of the three entities that can completely work at the local level

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