News Articles

Calif. Baptists elect Bill Agee executive director

FRESNO, Calif. (BP) — Bill Agee has been elected as executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board.

The 64-year-old minister of church planting and revitalization at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., was elected to the position today (May 11) by the board. His election culminated a yearlong search replacing Fermín A. Whittaker, who retired Feb. 28 after serving 22 years. Agee will begin his new duties June 1.

Agee has served as a pastor, church planter, director of missions, staff member at the North American Mission Board and a mega-church senior staff member. He becomes the eighth executive to lead the 77-year-old state convention.

“Dr. Agee brings a wealth of experience and understanding of ministry in the West,” said Montia Setzler, pastor of Magnolia Church in Riverside and chairman of the Executive Director Search Committee. “He has mentored dozens and influenced thousands of young church planters and has a heart for not only starting new churches, but revitalizing established churches.

“He has been part of helping and developing churches at multiple levels from being a pastor, a director of missions and working for NAMB. He brings to the table a blend of understanding where Southern Baptists have been and discovering where we need to go, which is a rare find.”

A native of Henryetta, Okla., Agee has California ties, having served as director of church planting for the California Baptist Foundation from 2008-2010. His task was to help the foundation partner with congregations to plant churches in the Golden State.

After graduating from college, Agee served as a church planter, starting Mobridge Southern Baptist Church in Mobridge, S.D., in 1977. Over the next nine years he started a new church in every community within a 60-mile radius of the congregation.

The Mobridge church led the four-state Northern Plains Baptist Convention in baptisms and church development, and Agee was the first president of the Dakota Fellowship of Southern Baptists.

He then served as senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., and First Southern Baptist Church in Prescott Valley, Ariz., from 1986-1995.

For nearly 10 years, from October 1995 to January 2005, Agee was director of missions for the Central Association of Southern Baptists in Phoenix, developing models for church planting and revitalization.

He was called to serve as director of associational strategies for the North American Mission Board in January 2005, where he and his team worked to develop plans to strengthen existing churches and develop strong new churches. He left that post in 2008 to serve the California Baptist Foundation.

Since January 2010 Agee has worked with First Baptist Woodstock to develop a church planting ministry called “Count the Cost” based on Luke 14:28 — a process which allowed First Baptist Church to locate the best places and use the best processes to plant strong churches anywhere in the world.

As a result, 56 churches have been planted in underserved regions with 15 percent evangelical witness or less in North America. Some of the church plants have become the fastest-growing churches in their states. The process also has garnered two international church plants, one in Central America and another in Europe.

Agee also has designed and developed a three-tiered church planting school preparing potential and current church planters. Since September 2010 when the first of the three levels was developed, 4,500 students from 26 countries have taken the course. Materials now are available in English, Spanish and German. The church planting schools are conducted both nationally and internationally, with each tier lasting three days.

Agee has designed a revitalization process for churches, seeing the need for renewal among plateaued and declining congregations. He also coaches pastors during the revitalization process.

He is author of two books, “Church Planting: This is NOT a Manual” and “The Predictability Factor,” both of which are used as textbooks in the church planting school.

Agee holds a doctor of ministry degree in Great Commission mobilization from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; a master of arts in religious education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and a bachelor’s degree in religion and history from Oklahoma Baptist University.

He and his wife of 41 years, Pam, have two children and three grandchildren.

    About the Author

  • Terry Barone