INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Charles W. Sullivan, executive director/treasurer for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, announced his retirement during a called staff meeting Sept. 11. His resignation comes after 11 years of service to the SCBI as executive director.
In his letter of resignation to the SCBI executive committee, Sullivan said, “All my life I have prayed that God would make my final years of ministry the crown of my service for Him. I truly believe He has answered that prayer.”
During his tenure in Indiana the convention has experienced a 57.8 percent increase in the budget and is currently in the 13th consecutive year of growth in Cooperative Program giving. Indiana now gives $1.2 million to world missions causes annually.
Sullivan has been instrumental in establishing six partnerships: Zambia, Croatia, the Spanish Highlands of Guatemala, eastern Ukraine, Oklahoma and Florida. Under his leadership Highland Lakes Baptist Camp has experienced unprecedented expansion, including a new all-purpose building with motel-style rooms, a worship center, kitchen and dining hall and newly paved roads.
He has also taken the lead in the steady growth of the Indiana Baptist Foundation. In 1991 the foundation had less than $150,000 in assets. Today, it has grown in assets to more than $1 million. In 2003 the foundation will begin to provide the Small Church and New Work Loan Fund as initiated through the current partnership with the Florida Baptist Convention.
“These past 12 years have been years of growth,” Sullivan said. “Growth in Cooperative Program Missions, growth in evangelism and growth in church planting and state missions.
“Most important, these 12 years have been years of unity where our churches have grown in independence, dependence and interdependence. When all three of these aspects are present, you see things taking place as we have.”
Joel Ragains, chairman of the SCBI administrative committee, said Sullivan “has shown strong leadership and the ability to bring different kinds of Baptists together in the state in order to find common ground.”
“He has brought stability and experience to our convention,” Ragains continued. “I think very soon we will move to a position where we will not be considered a pioneer state anymore and that is due, in large part, to his leadership.
“No one is irreplaceable. But finding someone like him is not going to be easy.”
Bobby Slagle, chairman of the SCBI executive committee, shared Ragains’ sentiments concerning Sullivan’s service to Indiana. “He has been a man of integrity who has set an example for us all,” he said. “We are a strong convention because of his leadership. He has led us to greater heights and has been a personal friend to the pastors that anyone could talk to.
“He is so full of wisdom and has had the ability to help us through anything that has come up. I really don’t have the words to express just what he has meant to us. I’ll simply say he is greatly appreciated and will be greatly missed.”
Sullivan’s service to Indiana began after a long ministry in the pastorate. He served as a pastor in Texas for 16 years, in Tennessee for 16 years, in Missouri for six years and in Oklahoma for four years.
“This is my 54th year in the ministry of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said. “Forty-two of these years were spent in what I believe is God’s highest calling — the pastorate.”
Sullivan’s retirement becomes effective May 15, 2003. He has agreed to remain in an interim status following that date until a replacement has been called.
“Almost one-fourth of my life-ministry has been given to Indiana Baptists,” Sullivan said. “I praise God for his call to serve the churches of this convention. My prayer is that God will lead Rev. Bobby Slagle and this Executive Committee in the appointment of a search committee and that the search committee will find the man who will take this convention to the next level in Kingdom growth. It is my prayer that the day will soon come when the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana will have 1,000 churches and 200,000 members and will baptize 5,000 annually. May God make it so.”