ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- Retired U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains (Major General) Douglas L. Carver has been appointed executive director of chaplain services for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Alpharetta, Ga., with the goal of taking Southern Baptist chaplaincy to a "new level."
In the newly created position, Carver, 60, will lead NAMB's chaplaincy team by casting its vision and future strategy. Carver will continue to reside near Charlotte, N.C.
"It is not every day that God brings the opportunity to add a retired, two-star general to your team," said Kevin Ezell, NAMB's president. "Doug is first and foremost a man of God and a humble leader. He has led chaplains who are serving in the most difficult circumstances. I know he will help us bring an even greater level of care and equipping to our chaplains."
The day-to-day operations and management of NAMB's chaplaincy group will continue under team leader Keith Travis, who will report directly to Carver. Although Carver's experience is specifically with military chaplaincy, he will bring leadership and support to all Southern Baptist chaplains endorsed by NAMB.
"This signals the expansion of chaplaincy at NAMB and will take it to a new level," said Larry Wynn, the mission entity's vice president for evangelism and leadership development. "It will expand our role in our nation with our chaplains and also with our SBC churches.
"We're going to be more intentional in encouraging churches to adopt chaplains and military personnel and to be more involved in our chaplaincy ministry here at NAMB," Wynn added. "Doug will be working to encourage churches to have more communications, programs and ministries for chaplains and military personnel."
Wynn said he has "never met an individual who has more passion than Doug for the Gospel and for sharing it with the world. This is a huge win for Southern Baptists and the Kingdom."
Carver said he hopes to forge a tighter relationship between NAMB chaplaincy and the people of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Historically, chaplaincy has always been an extension of the ministry of the local church," said Carver. "I hope to help churches see more clearly how God works through chaplains in the military and in other institutions.
"We'll work on enhancing the relationships between churches and chaplaincy and the dialogue between chaplains and pastors. Chaplains have a wealth of ministry experience, professional education and pastoral leadership that we need to do a more intentional job of tapping into."
Chaplaincy dovetails easily with NAMB's current overarching priority of church planting, Carver said.
"Our chaplains frequently minister in places where the church hasn't been or cannot go, especially in dangerous or desperate situations where people need pastoral care," Carver said. "As a result of their providing what we refer to as 'ministry of presence,' chaplains often find themselves planting churches where they serve in their various institutional and community settings."
Before retiring in the summer of 2011, the two-star general spent 38 years in the U.S. Army, 27 of them as an Army chaplain. In 2007, he became the first Southern Baptist in 50 years to be promoted to chief of chaplains for the Army, based at the Pentagon. In that post, he was responsible for some 2,900 chaplains in the active Army, the Army Reserves and the National Guard.
Carver's four years as chief of chaplains came during a time when the United States was fighting dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his tenure, he ensured comprehensive and religious support to a total of 1.2 million soldiers deployed in more than 80 nations, 300,000 Department of Defense civilians and 700,000 military families.
A native of Rome, Ga., Carver graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and was initially appointed as a regular Army officer in the field artillery branch of the U.S. Army. After serving on active duty for six years, he resigned his commission to enter the ministry. He was later commissioned as an Army chaplain in June 1984.
Carver also holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a master of science degree in strategic studies from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. An ordained Southern Baptist minister, Carver has pastored churches in Kentucky, Colorado and Virginia.
Since his retirement, Carver and his wife, Sunny, have made Waxhaw, N.C., their home. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
NAMB currently has more than 1,500 endorsed SBC chaplains serving in the U.S. military, which requires that all of its chaplains be endorsed and qualified by a recognized denomination. In all, 3,650 NAMB-commissioned and endorsed chaplains are ministering not only in the military but in correctional institutions, corporations, healthcare and public safety.
Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.