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Bill Wagner to be SBC president nominee

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–William L. (Bill) Wagner, a former Southern Baptist missionary and seminary professor and current president of Olivet University International in San Francisco, says he will allow his name to be placed in nomination for Southern Baptist Convention president when messengers meet in Indianapolis next year.

Wagner formerly was a professor of missions at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and before that an International Mission Board missionary for 31 years in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. He served as SBC first vice president from 2003-04. He also is the pastor of a small San Francisco-area church, Snyder Lane Baptist, and the author of the 2004 book, “How Islam Plans to Change the World,” published by Kregel. He says he has a passion for reaching Muslims with the Gospel.

It is not yet known who will nominate Wagner.

“It is hard to believe that the Southern Baptist Convention, historically and currently bound together in their desire to introduce others to the Gospel all over the world, have never had an International Mission Board missionary as their president, never had someone from a pioneer context (west of Texas or north of Maryland) as its president, never had a pastor of a small church as its president, and never had a trained missional strategist at its helm,” Wagner said in a statement to Baptist Press.

He served as a missionary in Austria beginning in 1965, and in 1982 became the IMB’s regional consultant for evangelism and church growth for Europe and the Middle East. In that latter role he planted four churches in three countries. He served as a professor at Golden Gate from 1996-2005 before taking his current role as president of Olivet University International.

Wagner has written a “Contract with Southern Baptists,” which consists of 10 points he hopes to implement if elected. Among them, he says he would seek:

— “to help SBC churches become more missional in lifestyle and outreach” and to “support the Cooperative Program and work to make it a priority for all Southern Baptists.”

— “to help Southern Baptists find a method to use our … university and college students in world evangelism.”

— “to support the Conservative Resurgence and encourage Southern Baptist schools and universities to continue to retain and to teach biblical basics to their students.”

— “to address the current perception held by many young Baptist leader[s] and future Baptist leaders that participating in the creation and structure of the policies of the Southern Baptist Convention is not a valuable investment of their time.” He proposes to create a program where Baptist colleges and universities will teach about denominational policies and explain “why current practices exist within the SBC.”

— “to help make Southern Baptists aware of the current issues and religions that pose significant obstacles to the advancement of the Gospel, especially in the Western World.”

— “to emphasize the importance of the small church in Southern Baptist life.”

The 2006 Annual Church Profile lists four baptisms for the previous year for Snyder Lane Baptist, located in Rohnert Park, Calif., and primary worship service attendance of 30. The church gave $670 through the Cooperative Program. It did not list its total undesignated receipts or total mission expenditures. The church gave $23 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and $73 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Wagner said he has been the church’s pastor for two years and does not receive a salary. The congregation was “almost dead but is now seeing growth once again,” he said. It had approximately 10 people attending every Sunday when he took the position to “see what could be done to bring new life” to the congregation.

The congregation’s record on giving is “deceptive,” Wagner said in an e-mail, explaining, “We have voted that we will give 10 percent to the Cooperative Program and have done so this year. We also have met our goals this year for Lottie Moon ($500.00) and Annie Armstrong ($300.00).”

Wagner received his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and his master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. He also holds a doctor of missiology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in California and a doctor of theology degree from the University of South Africa.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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