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Crews to retire from Northwest convention

VANCOUVER, Wash. (BP) — Bill Crews, executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, will retire Dec. 31 or when his successor is elected if after that date. Crews, 76, announced his intentions during the convention’s executive board meeting in late June.

“I have been blessed to have been given the privilege of serving in this position,” Crews said. “I was and am convinced this was the result of God’s hand on all of us at a crucial time in our individual and collective journey.”

Northwest convention messengers elected Crews in 2007 after he served several months as interim executive director. In announcing his retirement, Crews noted his original commitment to serve in the role for up to five years.

During his tenure, Crews led the convention staff through a major reorganization, which redeployed most staff into various regions of the convention’s three-state territory. He also implemented significant staff cuts after the North American Mission Board shifted funding toward church planting. NAMB’s contribution of more than $1.7 million to the NWBC’s annual budget helps fund 87 percent of nearly all convention field staff salaries.

Crews, a pastor in the Northwest and NWBC staff member in the late 1960s and 1970s, returned to the Northwest in 2004 after his retirement as president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California.

Following his retirement from the convention, Crews said he hopes to serve the NWBC in a volunteer capacity to assist the convention’s churches.

Clint Ashley, a former Washington pastor and retired director of Golden Gate Seminary’s Pacific Northwest campus, was elected to chair an executive director search committee.

Ashley serves under contract with the NWBC as a church and leadership consultant. He chaired the executive director search committee that recommended Crews nearly five years ago.

“We are at a place of great opportunity because we have the privilege of defining ourselves as a convention,” Ashley said. “We’ve made the major changes and have renewed focus and clarity on our mission, so now we’ll be looking for someone who can help our churches be fruitful in realizing the goals and doing it effectively.”

Committee members elected to serve with Ashley are Barry Campbell, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Redmond, Ore.; Ben Davis, pastor of Hope Fellowship in Maple Valley, Wash.; Jamie Sims, a public utilities administrator and member of First Baptist Church in Beaverton, Ore.; and Leslie Toll, a human resources consultant and member of Smith Rock Community Church in Terrebonne, Ore.

“I’m excited about the team we have,” Ashley said. “They’re people who can really help us scrutinize candidates. Everyone will have a role and a responsibility to bear.”

Northwest convention president Steve Schenewerk, pastor of Community Baptist Church in Winston, Ore., will serve as an ex officio member of the committee.

“We are in a time of historic proportions as we again have opportunity to shape the future of the Northwest Baptist Convention,” said Schenewerk, who recommended the search committee to the board. “These last few years have been difficult in our denomination as we have had to make difficult adjustments both in our staffing and our budget and in our organizations.”

The NWBC executive director must be approved by the executive board before being recommended to the convention for election. Schenewerk noted the importance of moving deliberately in identifying a candidate.

He acknowledged questions about finding a successor early to work alongside Crews on an interim basis, “but that’s not the way God has led us to move at this particular time.” Schenewerk said Crews’ availability to continue serving until a new executive director is elected provides important continuity for work currently taking place in the convention.

“We will be tempted to move too quickly” to recommend a candidate by the November annual meeting, Schenewerk said, “but I would rather obey God and have the right man than to move too fast.”

The search, Schenewerk said, will not be limited to leaders in the Northwest, but identification with the West will be an important factor.

Ashley mentioned creativity and entrepreneurship as important characteristics in a candidate to “get us thinking about the possibilities of new and better ways to do things.”

The search committee invites Northwest Baptists to send comments to [email protected] or to call Ashley at 360-882-2111.
Based on reporting by Cameron Crabtree, editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness.

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