August 2009

S.S. shares gospel with ZIP code

August 17 2009 by John Hall, Texas Baptist Communications

DALLAS — Thanks to a Sunday School class, more than 18,700 homes will hear about the hope of Christ in the coming months.

A men’s Bible study class at Park Cities Baptist Church recently raised $23,550 for Texas Hope 2010, a Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) initiative to share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010.

The funds will be used to mail a multimedia compact disc to every household in a ZIP code that is home to many of the people who attend the church’s Spanish service.

The multimedia CD is a key tool in the convention’s strategy to share the gospel across the state.

A men’s Sunday School class at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas recently raised more than $23,000 for Texas Hope 2010, enough money to put an evangelistic multimedia CD in every household in a ZIP code that is home to many of the people who attend the church’s Spanish service.

The BGCT is aiming to place scripture in all 8.8 million Texas homes by Easter 2010. The multimedia CD contains Bible passages and gospel presentations and enables users to download the New Testament in more than 350 languages.

Class member David Hudson said he hopes the class’ effort will strengthen the congregation’s outreach in the community, growing its Spanish ministry. The men’s class has been involved in numerous projects through the years with the church’s Amigos de Dios worship service, including an annual sports camp that will take place again this summer.

The connection between the service and the class, which averages 30 each week, helped encourage class members to give, Hudson said. They hope the CDs empower more people to come to know Christ and become involved in the service. Service leaders will be involved in following-up on the CD distribution in order to make it as effective as possible.

“I would like to see more of their neighbors active here and elsewhere,” Hudson said.

BGCT Executive Director Randel Everett thanked the class for the gift and praised its commitment to sharing the gospel in its community. He prays people will come to know Christ through the CDs.

“What you have done is inspirational,” Everett said. “For a class of this size to raise $23,000 is amazing.”

The men’s class takes on a variety of projects, having served and helped support mission work in numerous places around the globe, but Texas Hope 2010 and the CD distribution in particular enabled the group to be part of an effort that would make an impact locally.

“This class got so excited, several people asked to hold it open a bit longer,” Hudson said. The class extended its original giving timetable so people could give additional funds.

Hudson urged other Sunday school classes across the state to adopt a nearby group for which they can by multimedia gospel CDs.

“I think people give to a cause they can relate to,” he said. “Our class can relate to this service. We’re involved in this community project. If you’re a small rural church, adopt your county. If you’re in an urban center, adopt a neighborhood.”

8/17/2009 3:18:00 AM by John Hall, Texas Baptist Communications | with 0 comments

Hammond’s resignation another marker in NAMB leadership turmoil

August 14 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Geoff Hammond’s resignation Aug. 11 after just two years as president of the North American Mission Board continues a three-decade pattern of leadership turmoil in the agency charged with establishing a Southern Baptist national missions and evangelism strategy.

According to former staff and observers with a perspective of 50 years watching the Home Mission Board and its successor, the North American Mission Board, the domestic missions and evangelism ship has not enjoyed a steady hand at the helm through the full tenure of an executive since the leadership of Arthur Rutledge, who retired in 1976 and died nine months later.

Bill Tanner followed Rutledge, a man Walker Knight, who retired in 1983 as director of the department of editorial services, called “pleasant but not decisive.”

Tanner led the organization for 10 years before tiring of the tensions inherent in a shifting political landscape and he returned to his native Oklahoma in 1987 where he led the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma until retirement in July 1996. He died in June 2007.

Larry Lewis, a leader in the “conservative resurgence,” was rewarded with the HMB presidency 1987-96 following Tanner. When he did not purge the staff as the new political majority of the Southern Baptist Convention expected of him they reorganized the SBC around him.  He was left without a job when the Home Mission Board (HMB), Brotherhood Commission and Radio and Television Commission were merged, forming the North American Mission Board.

Norfolk pastor Bob Reccord chaired the task force to implement that merger and was named president of the new entity, a position he held until he was pressured to resign in 2006.

He was followed in 2007 by Hammond, who received a unanimous vote of confidence from his trustees in May and was forced to resign Aug. 11.

So it has been since 1976 that a president of the national missions entity has finished his tenure and departed on his own terms. Such instability at the top could lead Southern Baptists to question NAMB’s effectiveness.

Messengers consider HMB future

Southern Baptists historically have been attuned to measure their own effectiveness. In 1958 the Committee to Study Total Southern Baptist Convention Program, known as the Branch Committee, after its chair, North Carolina Executive Director Doug Branch, brought a series of recommendations to reorganize and strengthen the work.

Six of the recommendations pertained to the HMB and directed it to work cooperatively with Baptist state conventions. At that time some HMB services were redundant to state conventions and the HMB operated within states without consultation with the local state conventions.

Rutledge, then state missions director for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, joined the staff of HMB Executive Director Courts Redford, himself a strong leader, to direct that reorganization.

Rutledge created and tirelessly promoted the cooperative ministry agreements that still govern relationships between NAMB and state conventions. He became executive director when Redford retired.

Walker Knight, who preceded Rutledge to the board by six months in 1959, spoke to the Biblical Recorder from his home in Decatur, Ga. Knight, 85, is most noted for leading Missions USA magazine, the HMB’s flagship publication, to address race and other social issues well ahead of the pace Southern Baptist churches and institutions were facing them.

Knight said Redford was “a penny pinching and heavy fisted leader, but his heart was in the right place.”

National travel in that era was mostly by train. Redford often would return to Atlanta after midnight and sleep in his office, rather than get a hotel room or spend the time going home and back a few hours later.

Knight also recounted with laughter an ante-office Redford kept that he called “Memphis.” When his secretary fielded a call that he did not want to take she was to say Redford couldn’t come to the phone because he was “in Memphis.”

Rutledge succeeded Redford in 1965.

Rutledge was “soft spoken but had a backbone of steel” Knight said. “All the staff admired him.”

He did not have a big ego, and “his whole heart was in missions,” Knight said.

More study

In June 1968 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution stemming from a work commissioned to Willis Bennett, a sociology and religion professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His work revealed an urban crisis that required Southern Baptist response.

The highly regarded Rutledge was asked to coordinate Southern Baptist agency response to that “crisis in the nation.”

Thirty-year HMB veteran Don Hammonds, who retired in 1997 as interim vice president for the ministry section just as Bob Reccord was being elected as new president, said there is “no doubt” that Rutledge was “hands down the strongest executive” ever at the HMB.

Hammonds said one trait that made him a strong leader was that “he got people who knew something about what they were asked to do and he let them do it. He trusted his staff.”

Hammonds served several years with Rutledge, and was on staff during the full terms of Bill Tanner and Larry Lewis.

He and Knight both said Tanner’s reputation among staff was that the staff member who spoke to him last about an issue was the one most likely have his way. Tanner, who had come to the HMB from the presidency of Oklahoma Baptist University, was not necessarily pushed out, Hammonds said, but there was a general feeling his effectiveness was limited and his leaving was timely.

Others say he was a good executive, in that he encouraged staff and let them do their work while he presented the face of national missions. He came to the HMB with no missions administration background, and he left a position of national prominence for one with less.

Larry Lewis, president of a very small Baptist college, succeeded Tanner. He came to the post as the first leader elected to HMB since the recent conservative majority and carried with him the burden of high expectations to purge staff.

There was still significant moderate representation on his board, and his first several years were tumultuous trying to work with a divided board and a divided Convention, he said in an Aug. 13 interview.

Hammonds appreciated Lewis’ leadership because “he knew something about missions,” having been involved in church planting and in student work in Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Lewis’ three priorities were church starting, evangelism and ministry, Hammond said.

“Ministry” included the Christian social ministries, leisure ministries, chaplaincy and interfaith witness, areas that “always had more professions of faith than any other area” Hammonds said, but which were “lumped with evangelism” and diminished in the reorganization as NAMB.

Lewis wrestled with turmoil and a gnawing suspicion that the merger of three entities being proposed in the Covenant for New Century reorganization was a mistake. He wanted to be a “team player” he told the Recorder and did not want to appear to be afraid of losing his job, so he kept silent about his premonition.

Instead, he recognizes now that “my problem was conservative denominational leaders who thought I hadn’t been true to the cause,” of the “conservative resurgence.”

Wayne Allen, a Memphis pastor and key leader in the “conservative resurgence” movement, told a longtime denominational worker and son of an HMB employee, who prefers to remain anonymous because he is still active in denominational work, that conservatives were disappointed in Lewis, and that they were going to have to organize around him.

They could not oust Lewis because he had been their compromise candidate, but Allen implied that the impetus for the entire reorganization was to build a structure that would have no place for Lewis.

“I would hate to think that was true,” Lewis said. “But it may well be.”

Bob Reccord, pastor in Norfolk, Va., and briefly an evangelism staff member at HMB, led the reorganization task force that eventually would pull in the Radio and Television Commission from Fort Worth, and the Brotherhood Commission from Memphis. He eventually allowed himself to be elected president of the new organization, named the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Nine years later, after several years of turmoil among staff, low morale, major initiatives opened to great fanfare then dropped, and questionable spending Reccord’s tenure closed with his resignation.

After just two years of Hammond’s tenure, he too was forced to resign. Three associates closest to him followed in resignation because there was enough sentiment on the board that they risked being fired if they did not resign, according to a source directly affected.

One of the fears for those who love NAMB and believe it has a vital purpose in evangelization of America is that Southern Baptists will become so disenchanted with the constant turmoil there that they will stop supporting it. It is particularly exposed as an agency since the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has begun meeting to discover efficiencies and effectiveness in SBC spending.

NAMB board chair Tim Patterson, a Florida pastor, has already suggested one efficiency might be to merge NAMB and the International Mission Board.

His suggestion, the work of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and the seemingly constant turmoil at the top may lead Southern Baptists to revisit their 1958 consideration of the domestic work.


Home Mission Board leadership history 

The Home Mission Board was first located in Marion, Ala., and relocated to Atlanta, in 1882. The following men served as corresponding secretaries of the Board: Russell Holman (1845-1851; 1857-1862), T. F. Curtis (1852-1853), Joseph Walker (1853-1857), M. T. Sumner (1862-1875), W. H. McIntosh (1875-1882),

Isaac Taylor Tichenor (1882-1899), F. H. Kerfoot (1900-1901), F. C. McConnell (1901-1903), B. D. Gray (1903-1928), J. B. Lawrence (1929-1953), S. Courts Redford (1954-1964), Arthur B. Rutledge (1965-1976), William G. Tanner (1977-1987), Larry Lewis (1987-1996), Bob Reccord 1997-2006 and Geoff Hammond 2007-2009.





8/14/2009 9:48:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 3 comments

Income drop forces BSC layoffs

August 14 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

With Income trailing last year’s gifts by 3.2 percent or $647,000 through seven months, the Baptist State Convention has laid off three people and eliminated six positions, effective immediately.


Two of the positions will be combined with related work currently being conducted by two persons each carrying dual responsibilities. Those persons will have the option to apply for the redesigned positions, which will be opened for application by others, as well.


The Convention has maintained positive cash flow even during the income decline, but careful husbanding of resources is no longer enough because the restrictions on staff travel and ministry expenses could be pared no further without negatively affecting ministry, according to Brian Davis, executive leader for administration and convention relations.


Three persons whose positions are being eliminated, are:

Eddie Hammett, senior consultant for discipleship and deacon ministry;

Wendy Edwards, senior consultant for spiritual formation;

Rosanna Strickland, resource center manager.


The Learning Communities coordinator position at Hollifield Leadership Center is being eliminated, and was currently unoccupied, although Kim Duncan, who had held the position, was laid off in May.


The role of senior consultant for preschool ministries position, held by Cathy Hopkins, is being combined with children’s ministries. Before the retirement of Janice Haywood, Hopkins was the pre-school consultant but has been doing both jobs.


The senior consultant for western regional resources, held by Lester Evans, is being combined with the associational partnerships director position. He had been western regional resources consultant before assuming the additional role of associational partnerships. 


Job descriptions that will combine the four roles filled by Hopkins and Evans into two will be presented for consideration by the Position Evaluation Committee of the BSC Executive Committee at its September meeting. 


Hopkins and Evans will continue to fill their current roles until the newly combined positions have been filled and they may apply for the new positions.


Davis estimated an annual savings of approximately $500,000 in the staff and position reductions.


A news release from the Baptist State Convention said, “The convention staff worked diligently to keep spending below receipts, but the prospects for 2010 are still uncertain regarding any significant increase of financial support from the churches.”


 “Currently, because of the economy, the churches of this convention are not being supported financially by their members at the same levels as previous years,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer. “The Convention cannot expect to receive support from the churches when the churches do not have the funds to forward to us.


“I am convinced that as the churches see their support return the Convention will see an increase in receipts.  However, we are in the difficult situation of making decisions that impact individuals and families.  I take this downsizing very seriously and ask North Carolina Baptists to join me in prayer for the men and women impacted by these decisions.”


Salary for the position of public relations director, vacant since Aug. 1 when Doug Baker left to become editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, will not be included in the proposed 2010 Cooperative Program budget, which is still not finalized, but the position will remain in the Convention staff structure. 


Each employee affected by the downsizing has been provided a severance package, a package “significantly greater than our personnel policies prescribe,” according to John Butler, executive leader for business services.


Funds for those severances are being drawn from reserves, Davis said.


In the BSC news release Butler said the severances are comparable to those of 2003, when 23 positions were eliminated and 15 persons lost their jobs.


Since 2003, any time a position became vacant, the personnel evaluation committee had to approve the position’s continuation. Seven such positions have been added in the past six years, such as a writer, Embrace director and scholarship coordinator. If the positions lost when Woman’s Missionary Union moved from under the personnel structure of the BSC are considered, there has been no increase in the 180 persons employed as fulltime BSC staff statewide.


During consideration of staff reductions, every position throughout the state was considered, Davis said.


“It is significant that the 2003 downsizing occurred after Cooperative Program receipts had fallen approximately $2 million below budget,” Butler said. “Until this week’s action we had been able to avoid staff cuts during this economic recession through tightly managed expenses and reductions in program costs even though projected 2009 Cooperative Program receipts will be more than $4 million below the approved budget.  Unfortunately, the prolonged recession has left us with no other viable option than to reduce staff expenses.” 

Additional BSC reporting by Melissa Lilley 


8/14/2009 5:34:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 5 comments

Chairman: ‘NAMB going nowhere but forward’

August 13 2009 by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A day after a meeting of the board of trustees of the North American Mission Board ended with the resignation of President Geoff Hammond and three senior leaders, NAMB trustee chairman Tim Patterson expressed his confidence in the staff and assured them “NAMB is going nowhere but forward.”

Photo by John Swain

Tim Patterson, trustee chairman of the North American Mission Board, addresses staff at the entity Aug. 12, a day after a special called trustee meeting which ended with the resignation of NAMB President Geoff Hammond and three of his closest associates.

NAMB staff gathered for the board-wide meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, to hear directly from Patterson who, the day before, presided over a special called meeting to discuss concerns about Hammond’s leadership. Several trustees attended Wednesday’s meeting including Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., who serves as the board’s vice chairman, and Mike Palmer, pastor of Salmon Valley Baptist Church in Salmon, Idaho, the board’s second vice chairman.

Patterson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., expressed appreciation to the staff and reaffirmed the importance of their contribution to NAMB’s ministry.

“We want you to know that we love you guys, every one of you,” Patterson said. “Everyone who works here, who gives your heart and time here — and has the calling of God on your lives. God has placed you here as surely as God has placed me as pastor of a church.”

Patterson told employees by the end of the day someone would be named to run NAMB’s day-to-day operations. After that, trustee leaders will begin the process of finding an interim president. Soon after, a presidential search team will be established from among trustee members.

“The search will be very methodical,” Patterson said. “A careful process.”

By noon Patterson had e-mailed the staff announcing that Richard Harris, who has nearly 30 years of combined service at NAMB and its predecessor, the Home Mission Board (HMB), will serve as the entity’s acting interim president until an interim president is chosen. Harris’ previous service includes 10 years as NAMB’s vice president of church planting and 16 years leading HMB’s mass evangelism efforts.

Patterson asked the staff to continue praying for Hammond and the others who resigned the day before. “We love them and pray for them that God would do great works in their lives.”

Reading from Psalm 123:1, Patterson shared that, “Unless we keep our eyes on Him, all is for naught.”

“The North American Mission Board is one of most vital agencies in the world today,” Patterson said. “We will continue on. We have been tasked by Southern Baptists to reach North America for Christ. That is our goal and our job. And until Jesus comes back, that’s what we’re going to do.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ebert is team leader for communications at the North American Mission Board.)

8/13/2009 4:16:00 AM by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press | with 10 comments

Changing Gastonia, one kid at a time

August 13 2009 by Mike Creswell, BSC

GASTONIA — On a Monday afternoon Wavey Williams greeted children as they trooped past the “Mission Gaston at Highland Hills” banner and into an apartment.

Inside the kids sat down at work tables; most pulled homework assignment sheets from bags and started to work while some of the younger children practiced their crayon skills.

Wavey began helping the kids figure out questions and work problems. At one point he takes a boy’s small hand in his to show him how to shape the alphabet correctly.  

Soon Valarie, Wavey’s wife, arrived and also started helping kids. Caroline Burgess, a volunteer and member of Lowell Church of God, does the same. Caroline’s husband, Jack, often helps as well. Last Christmas the Burgesses gave gifts and Bibles to many children in the complex.

Wavey is grateful for their help, but thousands of North Carolina Baptist churches also are behind him. He is getting financial backing through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as he is launching a new church here and ministers in this multi-unit housing area.  

Wavey Williams is one of some 170 church-planting missionaries who North Carolina Baptists support through their Cooperative Program and North Carolina Missions Offering. These missionaries started 108 new churches in the state during 2008; that’s an average of a new church every three days.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Wavey Williams is a church planting missionary supported by North Carolina Baptists.

Inside the classroom, the kids were well-behaved and polite; they worked with focused attention. After school lessons the kids moved into a Vacation Bible School sort of program; they sang songs and listened to Bible stories. This day they read a play adapted from the Old Testament story of Joseph and his many-colored coat.

It’s clearly an after-school class, and a good one, but that’s not what Wavey Williams saw. To him this program is a launching pad to help win these kids a better chance of having solid lives.

He started the work two years ago by showing the “Facing the Giants” movie outdoors and visiting people. The work has grown steadily.

As he works here week by week, he keeps Philippians 4:13 in mind: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” His own life is proof of the verse, he said.

“I was once just like these kids; my background was just like theirs. If I can make it, they can also,” he explained.

He says the odds are against his kids.

This apartment complex is better than most in the area and has recently been upgraded by the owners. Many good people live here. But overall the surrounding Highland Hills area on the west side of Gastonia is a battleground for gangs and drug dealers.  

This is a place of fractured families, many of whom are unemployed or under-employed.  Many here are transient; they will be here a few weeks or a few months before moving on.  

Street-smart kids know about the gangs and the drugs. Wavey told of one 13-year-old boy whose father was a drug dealer before he was murdered in another state. This boy is one of many who look to Wavey as a kind father, the first one they have ever seen.

“These kids live in a very negative world and they face struggles of all kinds. We have them for a short time and then we turn them loose. We do the best we can and leave the rest to God,” Wavey said.

Mid-afternoon a girl perhaps 13 or 14 comes into the classroom. She is very pregnant. She says little but asks for a coloring book. She sits quietly, moving the crayons over the picture, hanging onto the last few minutes of childhood. It’s an old story here.

“The most basic thing we do is get kids to see Jesus in us and we just love them. We stay prayerful that God’s Word and the teaching we impart will stay with them the rest of their lives. We try to give these kids a sense of hope and love, the same things that God has give to us,” Wavey said.

Pamela Mungo checks in often to see how the ministry is going. She is a church planting consultant for the Baptist State Convention; her work involves coaching and encouraging church planters the convention supports. She also assures accountability. It is the close partnering that helps assure that 96 percent of all convention- supported church starts will survive to become self-supporting churches.

Mungo has been impressed both with the gentle but firm way Wavey and Valarie work with the kids, investing huge amounts of time in work many would pass by. She admires their persistence.

“Wavey and Valarie are an incredible couple. It has been my pleasure to serve with them and call them friends. They serve sacrificially in order to change lives,” she said.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s also the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Wavey said.

They have seen victories. Some of the kids who first came to the after-school program angry and cursing morphed into clean-talking, calm kids after a few months.  

Wavey knows he may never see the lasting results of his work here, but once in a while there’s a payoff.

Recently a U.S. Army veteran, just back from Iraq, came by to see Wavey.  

“You saved my life,” he told Wavey, who pushed and prodded him to get a high school diploma and do something good with his life. “I spent time with him years before and he turned out OK,” Wavey said with a smile. “You don’t know what the seeds you’re planting will develop into.”

Helping kids in the afternoon is almost like working a second shift for Wavey. He teaches physical education at two local elementary schools. A native of Philadelphia, Pa., he graduated from Winston-Salem State University in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education.  

He taught school in Winston-Salem for five years and then worked in state government for nine years before returning to teaching in 2007. His wife, Valarie, is a school social worker. They have two children of their own, Tasha and Joshua.

But watching Wavey move from one child to the next, calling each by name, it’s clear that these multi-housing kids are “his” as well.

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8/13/2009 4:10:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC | with 1 comments

Calvary takes mission trip to own city

August 13 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

Mission: Winston-Salem was a massive ministry outreach July 13-18 involving hundreds of members of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

But church leaders hope the effort will further a larger initiative to “Love Winston-Salem.”

Alexandra Milner, director of community ministry at Calvary, said this was the third year the church held Mission: Winston-Salem. She estimated nearly 1,000 members participated in the project, which is part of the church’s overall emphasis called Love Winston-Salem.

“Really, our hope is it will build a foundation for community partnerships,” she said.

Contributed photo

Mary Stuart Waters gets close to the children at Full Circle Kids Camp as part of Calvary Baptist Church's Mission: Winston-Salem. View photo gallery.

Milner said the missions event seeks to involve church members in the community with hands-on experiences, which will lead to their involvement in long-term ministry.

This year, the church launched a community-based approach, focusing on two areas — Southside and Kimberly Park. Church members held a cookout for the communities, serving 750 hot dogs at each.

The church hopes to connect with families in the two neighborhoods. They plan to help students in elementary schools in each community.

Mission: Winston-Salem also included four Vacation Bible Schools, two sports camps, construction projects and prayer walks. One of the Bible schools was for 70 Karenni refugees.

A couple who worked in Burma for Wycliffe Bible Translators was in Winston-Salem on furlough. They had just completed a New Testament translation in the Karennis’ language.

The translation allowed Bible school leaders to share the gospel with the Karenni children in a way they understood. Two were baptized at the end of the week.

In all, the church partnered with several dozen ministries and organizations.

The church also sponsored the largest community blood drive in the state.

“A lot of people were hearing the gospel and seeing it lived out,” Milner said.

8/13/2009 4:03:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Update: Congregational Health names new leader

August 13 2009 by Staff and wire reports

WINSTON-SALEM — A Georgia pastor has been elected president of the Center for Congregational Health, a ministry that provides consultants and trained leaders to help churches become “healthier communities of faith.”

Bill Wilson, who has been pastor of First Baptist Church in Dalton, Ga., since 2003, will become the president of the North Carolina-based organization Sept. 21. He brings about three decades of parish ministry to his new position.

“This is a significant transition for me from 33 years of local-church staff ministry to a position in which, while still involved in ministry, is on a much broader scale,” said Wilson. “The motivation for the change is an opportunity to put into practice all my sense of gifts and interests and passion in one place.”

The 17-year-old center is based at North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem and was formed out of a partnership with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

As the son of a pastor, Wilson said,  “I have come to believe that we must give ourselves fully to the task of empowering God’s church to do its work in the spirit of Christ.”

“When I began to look at this opportunity it was like reading something that had been written for me,” said Wilson. “It was a good feeling. It’s exciting to think I’ll be doing what, unknowing to me, God was preparing me for all along.” His only regret, he said, is leaving “a church I love desperately — it’s a wonderful position.”

The center has been without permanent leadership since July 2007, when founder David Odom, who had been president for 15 years, left to take the helm of the leadership-education program at Duke University Divinity School.

“The center wanted to handle the interim period like a church would,” said Marinn Bengel of Charlotte, who chaired the committee that called Wilson to the center. “We put an intentional interim in place and began a process to reflect on who and what we are.” After a year of self-examination, the center’s board of directors began the search process.

“We contacted people all across the country,” Bengel said. “We were looking for somebody who is a team leader, someone with lots of focus on the future of church, someone well-rounded and who would be respected in a number of church settings, someone who would take us to the next level.

“Bill has that kind of experience,” she added. “He’s been not only in a small-church setting but in a ‘big-pulpit’ church, and he’s thrived in numerous states. And a passion of his happens to be coaching and counseling other pastors and helping them move their churches forward.”

Before assuming the Dalton pastorate, Wilson was pastor of two Virginia Baptist churches — First Baptist in Waynesboro, from 1992-2003, and Farmville Baptist, from 1987-1992. Earlier he was minister of youth and recreation at First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C.
He has served as president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and on the governing boards of a variety of Baptist organizations, including Associated Baptist Press, the Religious Herald, the University of Richmond, the Baptist Center for Ethics, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Mercer University and Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology. He was a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship national coordinator search committee in 1995-1996.

He is a graduate of Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and holds a doctor of ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, Ind. He has done additional graduate studies at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., and Oxford University’s Regent’s Park College in Oxford, England.

Wilson said his father founded Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro and served on the BSC’s General Board. He mentioned fond memories of Caswell and Caraway.

“It feels like God is giving me the opportunity to come home,” Wilson said. “I look forward to joining my voice with North Carolina Baptists, working together to further help the church to be a place of hope and healing.”

He and his wife, Kathy, have three grown children.

The Center for Congregational Health was organized in 1992 as part of North Carolina Baptist Hospital’s pastoral care division and continues to be a department within that division. Though its directors are approved by the hospital’s governing board, they come from a wide range of denominational backgrounds. The center is supervising a number of CBF leadership-training programs.

It receives funding from the Cooperative Program and serves an average of 20 congregations in North Carolina and across the nation each month and hosts about 600 people each year at its educational events. In addition to financial contributions from North Carolina Baptist Hospital, it is supported by fees from congregations and other gifts.

The center offers a range of services to congregations, including consultation on issues such as strategic planning, team development and conflict management; leadership development for clergy; and an intense focus on interim ministry — both training intentional interim pastors and helping churches utilize interim periods to grow and develop.

During the last five years N.C. Baptists received consultations with 207 congregations, church consultant training for 28 ministers, coaching for 149 ministers, and interim ministry training for 98 ministers. Forty N.C. Baptist ministers received leadership development training through the Center's Young Leaders program, and 30 clergy completed the Pastor as Spiritual Guide, a spiritual formation ministry.

8/13/2009 4:02:00 AM by Staff and wire reports | with 1 comments

GCR Task Force 'talking about big issues'

August 12 2009 by James A. Smith Sr., Florida Baptist Witness

ATLANTA — The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force met Aug. 11-12 in Atlanta, burdened by the "absolutely enormous" and "extremely challenging" responsibility placed upon it by the Southern Baptist Convention, chairman Ronnie Floyd said Aug. 12 at a news conference following the group's first meetings.

Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., said the group is already “talking about big issues and looking at big questions” pertaining to Southern Baptists doing the Great Commission.

“I trust that all of us understand this, but we have a huge job to accomplish and looming deadline before us. This much is already clear. Our great passion is the Great Commission,” he said.

“With that as our passion, we will work long, hard and tirelessly to develop a report that will unleash a passion for the Great Commission that will energize Southern Baptists and prioritize our work together,” Floyd said.

The task force was appointed by SBC President Johnny Hunt in June after the SBC authorized its creation to study how Southern Baptists can work “more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.”

The task force met privately with only members permitted to attend, although two of Hunt’s staff and his wife, Janet, participated on a limited basis. Other invited guests participated for portions of the two-day meeting, including Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and SBC chief parliamentarian Barry McCarty, who was in Atlanta Aug. 11 to assist the North American Mission Board in its trustees’ deliberations concerning President Geoff Hammond.

Floyd said the task force prayed several times during its meeting on Aug. 11 while the NAMB trustees were deliberating over the future of Hammond, who ultimately resigned with three associates late in the day.

Floyd said Hammond’s resignation “adds to our urgency and our burden. It adds to the challenges we have before us. But we are going to trust the trustee process of the SBC and really, it’s really not our issue to talk about.”

The task force heard presentations by Rainer, and task force members R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.

Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., serves on the task force as an ex-officio member, along with Floyd and 21 other Southern Baptists. Only two members — Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, and David Dockery, president of Union University — were not able to participate in any part of the meetings.

Floyd said the group engaged in an “extended period of prayer and then immediately got busy with the job that Southern Baptists have assigned to us.”

Floyd declined to elaborate on the group’s deliberations.

“The nature of the work … has got to be confidential to a degree, because of the kind of things we have to discuss,” he said. “We do not want to get us off on side streets that take us away from the main street we’re trying to go on right now.”

Floyd said that task force has not yet planned any future meetings, other than the previously announced gathering set for Aug. 26-27 in Rogers, Ark.. That meeting will be preceded by a luncheon hosted by Floyd’s church and a listening session with Hunt. Invitations have been mailed to approximately 1,800 Southern Baptists within a two-hour driving radius.

Floyd said he received a letter from SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman confirming the Executive Committee will fund its work.

(EDITOR'S NOTE — Smith is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness.)

8/12/2009 2:30:00 PM by James A. Smith Sr., Florida Baptist Witness | with 0 comments

Harris named interim at NAMB

August 12 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees on Aug. 12 named Richard Harris, the organization's senior strategist for missions advancement, as acting interim president after the group's second president resigned — much as his predecessor did.

Harris, a long-time staff member of the Southern Baptist Convention agency formed in a major denominational restructuring in 1997, takes over for Geoff Hammond. Hammond resigned Aug. 11 after a seven-hour board of trustee meeting, held in executive session at the agency's suburban Atlanta headquarters.

BP photo

Richard Harris

Board chairman Tim Patterson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., said even though there has been much public speculation about the reasons for the called trustee meeting in recent days, they involved personnel matters and would remain confidential.

Two weeks earlier a trustee leaked an e-mail reporting concerns among the board's officers about Hammond's leadership.

Trustees hoped hiring Hammond, a former missionary, in May 2007 would move the agency forward after his predecessor, Bob Reccord, resigned amid allegations of mismanagement the year before.

Critics said Hammond lacked the management skills to effectively run an organization as large as NAMB, which oversees more than 5,600 missionaries in the United States and Canada.

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville recently quoted one trustee concerned about Hammond's leadership, particularly that he reportedly hired friends instead of qualified persons for key positions. Three of Hammond's closest associates resigned with him. Another trustee told the newspaper that board members tried to help Hammond adjust to his new role, but that it wasn't working.

The e-mail circulated prior to the trustee meeting described staff morale at NAMB as being at an all-time low.

One staff member who spoke to Associated Baptist Press on condition of anonymity said he didn't sense low morale in his department and most of the people he talked to Aug. 12 were surprised and saddened but confident in trustee leadership and optimistic about the future of NAMB.

Another staffer said he believed there was a morale problem, and most people he knows would probably feel relieved that tensions affecting their work were being addressed. He said he knew of some people who would have taken other jobs were it not for the poor economy, in which they had to worry about being unable to sell homes in the Atlanta area after they moved.

Hammond did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.

(EDITOR'S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.) 

8/12/2009 1:32:00 PM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Trustee glad Hammond spared NAMB embarrassment

August 12 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

North Carolina Baptists serving as trustees for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) had little to say about the resignation of NAMB president Geoff Hammond and three of his associates.

Hammond, who had led NAMB since March 2007, and the three staff members resigned Aug. 11 after trustees met all day in closed session. The others who resigned were Dennis Culbreth, senior assistant to the president; Steve Reid, senior associate to the president for strategy development; and Brandon Pickett, communications team leader.

Todd W. Garren, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Lincolnton, came on the NAMB board in 2006. He said he was appreciative that Hammond “saw the handwriting on the wall” and spared NAMB any further embarrassment.

“It was a tough situation with no good ending,” Garren said.

He said Hammond is a missionary at heart with a wonderful spirit.

“In that regard he served NAMB well and served the kingdom well,” he said.

Bruce L. Franklin, a layman and member of New Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Henderson, is starting his second year as a NAMB trustee. He said he thinks the board’s process “worked exactly as it should have.”

“It was a long meeting, but ultimately God’s will was done,” he said.

Franklin said the board is moving forward.

“We want to be focused on the real objective that is reaching this continent for Christ,” he said. “One of the things we want to do is reassure our Southern Baptist churches that we believe we’re on track.”

8/12/2009 8:48:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 9 comments

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