DALLAS (BP)–Charles Wade, immediate past president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, will be nominated as the BGCT’s executive director during a Sept. 28 meeting of the state convention’s executive board.
Wade, 58, has been pastor of First Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas, 23 years. If elected, he will succeed William M. Pinson Jr., who retires Jan. 31, 2000.
The 18-member BGCT executive director search committee met in Dallas on Sept. 14, with members voting overwhelmingly to nominate Wade, reported chairman Bill Brian, an Amarillo attorney.
In August, the search committee selected Wade as one of two finalists for nomination as BGCT executive director. The committee initially nominated Phil Lineberger, pastor of Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugar Land. Soon after that announcement, however, Lineberger withdrew from nomination, saying he could not gain any sense of peace that it was God’s will for him.
Brian noted the committee previously had affirmed both Wade and Lineberger, saying, “The committee and Dr. Wade both believe that Dr. Wade’s sense of call in the matter was confirmed by this chain of events. One committee member observed, ‘We have discovered God’s choice in Dr. Wade.’”
Brian said the committee met with Wade for more than six hours during three interviews.
Wade “brings an extraordinary blend of experience, people skills and vision that equip him for the task,” Brian said. “He is a man of vision. He told the committee that he would lead Texas Baptists to ‘dream a bigger dream,’ noting that success depends on the vitality of the vision and the blessings of God.”
Wade told the committee he sees himself as “a consensus-builder, noting people come first and strategy second in fulfilling the mission of the convention,” Brian added.
“Dr. Wade told the committee that he would try to build unity among Texas Baptists around our sense of mission and obedience to God’s call, saying, ‘All who want to work to achieve the mission will be welcomed at the table.’”
Brian pointed to First Baptist Church of Arlington as “the flagship of mission efforts in Texas by a local congregation.” Last year, the church gave $227,294 to missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program unified budget, and the congregation contributed a total of $338,772 to missions causes.
Wade was among the organizers of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a denomination-like organization formed in 1991 in protest of the Southern Baptist Convention’s leadership, and was co-chairman of the steering committee for the CBF’s 1992 general assembly, a member of the CBF’s Coordinating Council from 1991-94 and a program leader at the 1999 CBF general assembly in Birmingham, Ala.
In 1998, the year after he concluded his BGCT presidency, Wade was among the speakers in a series of CBF rallies across Texas led by CBF coordinator Daniel Vestal and joined by a number of CBF staff members and Texas Baptist pastors. The 37 rallies from April 20-24 were titled, “Celebrate the Spirit; Learn the Truth.”
Wade also has been an executive committee member of Texas Baptists Committed, an organization that has been strongly critical of the SBC.
In the conservative-moderate campaign for the BGCT presidency in 1995, Wade told a rally at a Dallas church that if he, as the moderate nominee, was not elected, “It’ll be a disaster for Texas,” according to a report in the Dallas Morning News. In 1997, the Dallas Morning News reported that Wade had dismissed rumors that he might run for the SBC presidency. “I don’t feel a part of it anymore. It doesn’t represent what matters to me,” he told the paper. “I can remember when I almost thought the kingdom of God rose and fell on Southern Baptist borders. I’m better that I no longer think that.”
In missions, a community outreach of Arlington’s First Baptist Church, Mission Arlington, supports Bible studies involving about 3,000 people each week at more than 200 off-campus locations. About 75 new believers each year are baptized as a result of the Mission Arlington ministries.
Mission Arlington also meets needs in its community by providing food, clothing, rent and utility bill help, medical and dental care, child care, adult day care, job training, transportation and counseling services.
“If a church can create a ministry and demonstrate its viability, others in the community will join in that work,” Wade said, pointing out the tremendous number of volunteers involved in Mission Arlington. “We’ve given 70 churches and numerous individuals a handle for helping other people.”
First Baptist Church in Arlington also has sponsored an International Friends Ministry for 30 years, providing instruction in conversational English and everyday skills for living in the United States such as grocery shopping and using a gasoline pump. For 20 years, the church has offered an international Sunday school class.
First Baptist Church sponsored Hispanic, Chinese and Korean missions that have become self-supporting churches, and it currently sponsors a Thai mission.
Wade entered the gospel ministry at age 15. Before coming to Arlington, he served several churches in Oklahoma as well as Italy, Texas, and Baumholder, Germany.
He is an Oklahoma Baptist University graduate and earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. His longtime concern for cross-cultural understanding and race relations was reflected in the topic of his doctoral dissertation, “An Inquiry into Black Theology — An Attempt at White Understanding.”
In addition to serving as president of the BGCT from 1995-97, he also has been a trustee of Hispanic Baptist Theological Seminary, Dallas Baptist University and Oklahoma Baptist University. He has been on the board of directors for the Baptist Standard newsjournal and a member of the state missions commission.
He had been moderator of Tarrant Baptist Association and involved in a number of the association’s ministries. He also has been very active in local civic, service and ministerial organizations.
Wade and his wife, Rosemary, have one son, Mark; three daughters, Roshelle, Karee and Mary Robin; and seven grandchildren.
Compiled by Art Toalston.