Amanda Bradshaw Sharpe
May 3, 2018
MURFREESBORO, NC – 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.
As one of the fastest growing universities in the United States for the past ten years, Chowan University, a Christian liberal arts university founded in 1848, enrolls more than 1,500 students each year and is located in the Historic Inner Banks community of Murfreesboro in Northeastern North Carolina. The university is in close proximity to the Outer Banks and Hampton Roads Virginia. Chowan’s park-like campus features more than 400 acres including Lake Vann, the beloved “Squirrel Park” and the original McDowell Columns Hall, erected in 1851 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Chowan offers over 75 undergraduate academic programs among The School of Arts and Sciences, The School of Education, The School of Fine & Applied Arts, and The School of Business, and offers Masters Degrees through the School of Graduate Studies. Several departments are also individually accredited, such as Teacher Education Program’s accreditation by NCDPI and NCATE, as well as the Music program’s institutional accreditation by NASM. An NCAA Division II member institution, Chowan offers 19 varsity sports, as well as co-ed cheerleading, with nine programs in the CIAA and nine in Conference Carolinas.
For more information about Chowan University, visit www.chowan.edu or call 1-888-4-CHOWAN.
Photo Caption: Suzii Paynter pictured with Chowan University students/CBF affiliate interns