DALLAS (BP)–O.S. Hawkins, elected the seventh president of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention on Sept. 12, said he will continue the identification of the president’s office with pastors of Southern Baptist churches. Hawkins said he intends to use the Annuity Board’s home page on the World Wide Web to make sermon preparation resources available to preachers. He also said he wants to help “retool” retirees for mission service.
“I want to expand my preaching ministry through the Internet,” Hawkins said. “I’m not going to leave my calling as a preacher.”
Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, since August 1993, Hawkins accepted the unanimous vote of trustees who offered him the presidency of the world’s second?largest church pension fund. He begins his work Oct. 1, and Paul W. Powell, president since March 1, 1990, will become a consultant until his 65th birthday in December 1998.
Timothy E. Head, chairman of the board of trustees, told reporters Powell had suggested a transition in management more than a year ago, calling attention to several officer retirements in close proximity, especially those of the president and the chief operating officer, W. Gordon Hobgood Jr. “There was no pressure from the board (of trustees),” said Head, pastor of Cooper River Baptist Church, North Charleston, S.C. “We appreciate Dr. Powell volunteering to step aside to assist in a smooth transition.”
Hawkins, accompanied by his wife, Susie, met privately with trustees after the search committee made its recommendation. After Hawkins spoke, there was but one question from trustees, for him to give testimony to his conversion experience. Hawkins told of a childhood with little church influence until a teenage friend shared a witness after a basketball game. The friend followed up, took Hawkins to Sagamore Hill Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, the next Sunday, and, “On Jan. 3, 1965, I heard the gospel for the first time and was saved that day.”
Hawkins’ election took place in an executive session without the candidate or any current staff present. He and his wife were then readmitted to the room and each trustee passed by to shake hands with the couple.
J. Ray Taylor, a retired insurance executive from Fort Worth, was chairman of the search committee and reported, “Dr. Hawkins met every criteria you gave us.” Taylor was referring to a list of 12 “Qualities, Traits and/or Characteristics” adopted in February by the board.
Taylor told the board the committee had employed a consultant to assist with administrative responsibilities, and the consultant reported Hawkins was the first candidate for a position he had investigated for whom there was not a single negative comment from any reference.
Hawkins told the trustees, “I’m more surprised than anybody to be standing here (as the nominee). My first reaction to the committee’s inquiry was one of humor.” Noting he has been only a pastor and never expected to be anything else, Hawkins nonetheless shared a vision of his dream for the new work he has accepted.
Hawkins said he hopes to assist retired ministers to “retool” for service the way hundreds of laypeople are doing in both North American and international missions. The new president said he envisions continuing service by retirees can be supported by gifts directed to the Annuity Board.
Hawkins said he would try to fulfill the statement Ray Taylor gave to The Dallas Morning News to “… take something that’s working great and make it greater.” To accomplish this, Hawkins said, “I will challenge anyone who comes to work here with 1 Corinthians 4:2: ‘It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.'”
Hawkins said, “I want to surround myself with persons who have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, persons who are faithful to their families in fulfilling the picture of Christ and his church. I want to surround myself with persons who are good stewards personally and who support their local church and the Southern Baptist Convention.”
In answer to a question about the Annuity Board’s investments, Hawkins said he has “… no difference of opinion with the current investment policy (of the board)” which is set by the board of trustees.
The new president expressed appreciation to the search committee for the thoroughness of its work and for the role of Paul Powell as encourager and counselor. He complimented Powell for the rapid growth of the Adopt An Annuitant ministry that provides an extra $50 each month to nearly 3,000 retired pastors or their widows with very small annuity benefits.
“This is one of the ways I hope to work with Dr. Powell as a consultant,” Hawkins said. “I’m going to really enjoy having Paul’s help.”
Hawkins also paid tribute to First Baptist Church, Dallas, and its pastor emeritus, W. A. Criswell, whom he called, “the greatest human agent and supporter I have. … Had it not been for the prayer support and encouragement of Dr. and Mrs. Criswell,” he said, “I could not be standing here today.” Hawkins said he and his wife intend to remain members of First Baptist Church where she has a Bible teaching ministry.