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4 LifeWay employees named IMB international consultants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Four employees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention have been named international consultants to the International Mission Board. The four will begin overseas service in 1999 in different regions of the world as a first step in a cooperative church development initiative between the two agencies.
The consultants, who will be appointed as IMB missionaries and funded by LifeWay, will report to IMB regional leaders and to LifeWay’s international department.
Steve Cretin, director of the leadership and evangelism department in the Sunday school division, will serve in Singapore, working with the Asia region. Geoff Bowen, consultant in the Sunday school division, will live in Frankfurt and work with missionaries and churches in central and Eastern Europe.
Michael Woolridge, consultant in the Sunday school division, will live in Kenya and work with churches and missionaries in Eastern Africa. Ernest McAninch, manager of the leadership team in the church resources group’s marketing planning department and a former career missionary in Central America, will serve in Quito, working with missionaries and churches in Spanish-speaking South America.
LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. said the concept for this partnership was formalized early this year when he, Executive Vice President Ted Warren and church resources group Vice President Gene Mims met with IMB President Jerry Rankin and Senior Vice President for Overseas Operations Avery Willis to discuss opportunities for cooperative efforts.
“This represents an incredible opportunity for LifeWay to partner with the IMB to strengthen churches around the world,” Draper said. “Each of these consultants has extensive experience in working with churches. We are committed to providing them needed support in carrying out this important work. Our desire is to see this expand into other areas of the world.”
“We are grateful for the global vision and commitment of Dr. Draper and his staff at Lifeway Christian Resources in partnering with us to reach a lost world,” Rankin said. “Their provision of these personnel to our missions task enables us to avoid needless duplication in trying to fill roles for which Lifeway staff is so well equipped. We are anticipating this project will prove successful and will be a model that will be expanded in the future.”
The consultants will work with churches and missionaries in their region to identify and prioritize needs and opportunities in church development and discipleship. They will adapt principles of church growth and discipleship to the cultural contexts of the countries in which they serve and identify LifeWay resources available to meet needs.
They also will design, coordinate, promote and conduct training seminars, workshops and other field service events. Other responsibilities include identifying needs for adapting LifeWay resources for use on the mission field and identifying publishing opportunities in their region of service.
“We are thrilled at the unity shown by the bold move of LifeWay Christian Resources seconding these four persons to our regional teams,” Willis said. “This takes us to a new level of working relationships among our personnel that will be mutually beneficial.
“Although the church growth philosophy on the mission field is different from the one used in the United States, we anticipate that the LifeWay personnel can adapt their knowledge of the principles of church growth and discipleship to the many cross-cultural situations they will face,” Willis added. “We accept them as full missionary colleagues who will work together with us to begin and nurture church-planting movements among all peoples.”
Luis Aranguren, director of LifeWay’s international department, said, “It has been exciting to see what God is doing in calling these four families to such a significant assignment. As we see what he does through them, we must be open to expanding to enlarging our efforts.”
The consultants will begin seven weeks of orientation at the IMB Missionary Learning Center in late October, Aranguren said. They will move to the field in early 1999.
He said three IMB regional leaders came to LifeWay in May to plan the integration of the work of the international consultants into ongoing missions work.
Candidates for the positions and their spouses went through a two-phase selection process, including the standard IMB selection process for International Service Corps and interviews by a panel of LifeWay leaders.
Cretin, 50, a three-year LifeWay employee, is married to Ann Cretin and is the father if two grown children. . He formerly held church staff positions at First Baptist Church, West Monroe, La.; Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas; North Central Baptist Church, Gainesville, Fla.; First Baptist Church, Winter Park, Fla; and Bellevue Baptist Church, Hurst, Texas.
Bowen, 37, a two-year employee, is married to Jennifer Bowen and is the father of a daughter, 6, and a son, 1. Earlier, he served as minister of education and administration at Burnt Hickory Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., and Noonday Baptist Church, Marietta. He also served as general manager of North American operations for Schenck Panel and Cargo Systems, Atlanta.
Woolridge, 44, is married to Evelyn Woolridge and is the father of five daughters, 7, 5, 4, and 2 and newborn. He has served as an editor and a consultant in youth Sunday school work during his five years at LifeWay. Earlier, he served as minister of missions and outreach at First Baptist Church, Hyattsville, Md.; program associate in the Christian education department of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention; and minister of education, Forest Heights Baptist Church, Oxon Hill, Md.
McAninch, 47, a five-year LifeWay employee, is married to Lee Ann McAninch and is the father of two grown children. He formerly served six years as IMB mission administrator in El Paso and eight years as a missionary in El Salvador. At LifeWay, his responsibilities have included development of a policy on international publishing subsidiary rights.

Mark Kelly contributed to this story.

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  • Linda Lawson