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6/20/97 NAMB trustees organize, elect Fuller, Reccord

DALLAS (BP)–Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Southern Baptist. You have a healthy new missions agency called the North American Mission Board. Its nickname is NAMB, pronounced to rhyme with lamb.
NAMB trustees held their first meeting June 19 in Dallas following the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, handling necessary organizational items and electing board officers, including Charles Fuller as chairman, and a new leadership team led by Robert Reccord as president.
Creation of the new agency culminated the SBC restructuring which began in 1993 and put forth in the “Covenant for a New Century” approved by messengers to the SBC’s 1995 and 1996 annual meetings.
The plan reduced the number of SBC agencies from 19 to 12, including combining resources of the Home Mission Board, Brotherhood Commission and Radio and Television Commission into one new home missions agency, the North American Mission Board.
C.B. Hogue, chairman of NAMB’s incorporators, who served as a nominating committee and presidential search committee, opened the NAMB trustee meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas with a devotion on unity. He encouraged trustees to seek a “unity of vision, service and celebration, beginning with unity in Jesus Christ.”
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, told NAMB trustees and a standing room only gallery they were participating in an historic moment: “Southern Baptists for years and years will look back on this moment as the birth of the North American Mission Board. On behalf of Southern Baptists, I want to give you this new baby, confident that you will care for it and nurture it as God leads,” Chapman said.
Addressing the urgency to reach America and Canada with the gospel, Chapman implored the trustees to “do as much as possible as soon as possible … . Southern Baptists believe in missions, including international missions, but if there is no mission effort in America, there will be no Southern Baptists to do missions around the world.”
Trustees unanimously accepted proposed bylaws following two amendments which allow each of three trustee standing committees to elect its own vice chairman. The vice chairmen also would serve on the board’s trustee executive committee, with committee chairman who are appointed by the board chairman.
Although a slate of officers was recommended by the incorporators, each person was placed in nomination by a trustee and voted on separately. In addition to Fuller, who is pastor of First Baptist Church, Roanoke, Va., other offices are Gary Underwood, Texarkana, Ark., first vice chairman, and Donley Brown, Jefferson City, Mo., second vice chairman.
The board’s bylaws call for three additional officers to be filled by appropriate agency employees. Elected treasurer was Ernest Kelley, chief financial officer for NAMB; assistant treasurer, Carlos Ferrer, NAMB controller; and secretary, Marjorie Bowman, administrative assistant to the president’s office. All were elected without opposition.
Following a 15-minute video biography of Reccord, Dallas pastor Danny Souder nominated Reccord to serve as the first president of NAMB. With two dissenting votes, Reccord was elected and received a standing ovation from trustees and guests.
The video featured Reccord explaining his life priorities, with special focus on his family, his concern for the lost and the challenge of reaching America for Christ. “With all we are doing to evangelize America, we’re losing ground,” Reccord said. “We’re not even keeping up with the population growth.”
Appearing on the tape to endorse Reccord’s candidacy were evangelist Leighton Ford; Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson; Roy Fish, evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas; former SBC President Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn.; Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas; James Merritt, new chairman of the SBC Executive Committee and pastor of First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga; and former SBC President H. Edwin Young, pastor of Houston’s Second Baptist Church.
The two dissenting votes were cast by Rose Bear, a campus minister from Terre Haute, Ind., and Roger Gorby, a pastor from Ladysmith, Va.
Bear told Baptist Press although she is impressed with Reccord personally, she is concerned “because of the way the transition was handled by the Implementation Task Force” which Reccord chaired for more than a year and his seeming “lack of missions involvement.”
Hogue disagreed, telling Baptist Press the ITF conducted its affairs as directed by legal counsel and that Reccord has significant missions involvement. “Bob Reccord served as a summer missionary, worked for the Home Mission Board in evangelism, served as a bivocational pastor in a pioneer missions state and led his present church to strongly support missions, including starting several new churches,” Hogue said.
Gorby declined to comment, except to pledge his support for Reccord, saying, “He’s our president and I’ll support him in every way.” Bear echoed Gorby’s sentiments, saying, “I’m going to pray for him every day and help him any way I can.”
Following Reccord’s election, Fuller called the board into executive session, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes. He told Baptist Press such a session would be rare during his tenure but was necessary in order to discuss sensitive personnel issues.
He said part of the executive session was spent discussing the proposed salary structure for NAMB, which had been criticized publicly by two Home Mission Board trustees a few weeks prior to the meeting. Trustees accepted the structure, after reducing the top end of the president’s pay range.
Also during the executive session, trustees filled four of the five vice presidential positions: Ernest Kelley, formerly HMB interim president, was elected vice president of business services; Michael Day, previously executive vice president of the Brotherhood Commission, was elected vice president for strategy planning and mobilization; Richard Harris, formerly HMB director of mass evangelism, was elected vice president for church planting; and Nate Adams, vice president of Christianity Today, was elected vice president of media and missions education. A vice president of evangelization has not yet been selected.
Kelley, Day and Harris begin their responsibilities immediately, while Reccord and Adams will assume full-time duties later in the summer.
Following his election, Reccord addressed the trustees and NAMB employees in Alapharetta, Ga., and Fort Worth, Texas, who were watching the meeting via a live satellite feed.
Looking directly into the camera, Reccord told the employees, “The good news is, you all have jobs. Congratulations and thank you. We could not have done this without you.”
Reccord emphasized that NAMB is a new organization, not simply a combination of the three former agencies. “We’re not trying to fill the shoes of the Home Mission Board, Brotherhood Commission or Radio and Television Commission,” Reccord said. “We have our own shoes and will make our own way.”
The board also discussed NAMB involvement in Reconciliation ’97, a controversial conference to be held this fall in England. The conference’s stated purpose reads in part, “… to affirm the unity of Christians and embrace the diversity of the body of Christ in its ministry of reconciliation.” Several board members expressed concern because of the ecumenical nature of the conference.
Bill Streich, NAMB trustee from Wichita Falls, Texas, informed trustees the Home Mission Board’s trustee administrative committee earlier in the week approved a policy prohibiting HMB staff from attending or being involved in the meeting. He asked that the policy be honored by the new NAMB president. Reccord assured the board he would follow through with decisions made by the HMB executive committee.
Although trustees accepted a previously announced date for the next full board meeting, several members expressed concern the Nov. 3-5 session conflicted with some state Baptist convention annual meetings and with election day.
Fuller pledged the executive committee, which meets in July, will determine if another date would be more appropriate. Two trustees also asked the committee to study the possibility of adding an additional board meeting to the two per year proposed.
The board also approved a six-month budget of $52.6 million for the remainder of the fiscal year; a resolution of appreciation for the incorporators; a ministry statement for the agency; an employee handbook and benefits handbook; a policy on housing allowance; and an annuity plan.
Trustees also ratified a resolution affirming each member’s personal compliance with guidelines for applying for the federal broadcast licenses presently held in the RTVC’s name.
Prior to adjournment, Fuller asked trustees to designate the chairman and the president as official spokesmen for NAMB. A motion was made and seconded. Prior to voting, Fuller said, “What this means is that guests here today can speak as they wish about what happened, but as trustees you will defer to the chairman and president.” The motion passed without opposition.

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  • Martin King