ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–A new program, “E School,” to help train young evangelists could begin as early as 2001, members of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists learned at their 45th annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., June 13.
“E School” represents the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board’s continuing support of Southern Baptist evangelists, said Don Smith, an associate in NAMB’s event evangelism unit.
Open to all Southern Baptist evangelists, the program will be a requirement for evangelists with fewer than five years of experience who want to be endorsed by NAMB. Smith said the training will most likely take place in Atlanta, and evangelists will only have to pay their transportation costs.
Smith also addressed concerns some evangelists have expressed about the NAMB endorsement process, a joint effort of COSBE and NAMB.
“I want you to know that what we’re seeking to do in the endorsement process is solely to encourage, to equip, to bless, to advance, to recognize and, in the eyes of some, to legitimize further the ministry of our Southern Baptist evangelists,” Smith said.
“There is absolutely no attempt to control, dictate or in any other way direct your ministries,” he added.
Noting that endorsement does not influence an evangelist’s success, Smith said the process is more of a recognition of the vital ministry of evangelists.
“You guys don’t need denominational approval to do what you doing,” he said. “But we want to say to Southern Baptists, our evangelists are a gift to the church and we want to let them know that we value their ministry, we support their ministry and we want to encourage the churches to use our evangelists in an ever-increasing way.”
The endorsement process includes completing an application form and signing COSBE’s Affirmations of Accountability.
Outgoing President Jerry Drace counted the affirmations, the establishment of a Council of Accountability, a code of ethics, and the Samaritan Fund, a relief fund for evangelists, as the most significant accomplishments during his presidency.
After the first year of the Affirmation of Accountability, Drace said the reaction from pastors and evangelists has been overwhelmingly positive.
“One influential pastor said he wished the [SBC] Pastors’ Conference would adopt such a standard,” Drace said.
Drace reported that the Samaritan Fund had topped $36,000, with contributions from 37 evangelists and 130 churches, most of them “small, country churches.”
“Some of these little country churches have done more than I would ever believe,” he said.
New COSBE officers elected at the meeting are Mike Osborne of Petersburg, Va., president; Keith Fordham, Fayetteville, Ga., vice president; Les Snider, West Frankfort, Ill., music director; Margaret Allen, Edmond, Okla., secretary-treasurer; Pat Roper, Greenville, S.C., assistant music director; Charles Killough, Houston, parliamentarian; and Ken Hall, Valdosta, Ga., pastor adviser.
Evangelists who have served at least 25 years were honored. They included Paul and Christie Newberry, Dale and Ann Cody, Connie and Allison Ware, Ron and Claudia Henderson, Betty Moni, Tommy and Joyce Snelen, Roper, the Jim Bob Griffin family, Felix Snipes and Drace.