We live in a broken world, one filled with pain and grief, disappointment and heartbreak. As Christians, we often wish that our faith provided us with immunity from hurt and loss, but we have learned on this journey of faith that trouble comes to each of us, sometimes paying us an unexpected, shocking visit.
Many of us today have read the announcement about Suzii Paynter, the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. After forty-four years of marriage, Suzii has filed for divorce. Her announcement reminds us that each person we encounter is living with pain that we know nothing about. We often make assumptions that life is easy for those in powerful positions or places of influence, but the reality is that none of us are immune to hurt and heartbreak. None of us.
The officers and the governing board of CBF have assured us of their confidence in Suzii’s leadership and their commitment to her continued role as executive coordinator, and I fully agree. There is no one in which I have more confidence than Suzii Paynter. She is the most effective leader I know. Suzii is one of those rare leaders who can dream big dreams and then make those dreams a reality. She sees the big picture, but she also gets things done, makes things happen. For three-and-a-half years, she has shared her leadership gifts with our CBF family, and we have been abundantly blessed. With today’s news, the circumstances of Suzii’s personal life have sadly changed, but her abilities and giftedness have not changed. Her calling to the Fellowship has not changed. And for her steadfast commitment to this important work I am most grateful.
As Suzii moves through these hardest of days, my prayer is that we will offer her the same measure of grace that she has always given to those who are heartbroken and hurting. May we embrace her with the same compassionate, loving kindness that she has offered to us as a Fellowship. May we respect her privacy as we would want our privacy respected. May we offer her words of support and affirmation so that she will know that she is not on this journey alone. May we faithfully pray that God’s peace and mercy bring comfort to her and to Roger and their children as they grieve this loss and move forward into an unexpected new reality. Amen.
Pam Durso is the executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.