WICHITA, Kan. (BP)–Kansas pastor Terry Fox resigned from his church Aug. 6, saying he wants to spend more time traveling the country encouraging pastors and Christians to engage the culture on such issues as “gay marriage,” evolution and abortion.
Fox’s resignation after 10 years at Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita takes effect immediately. Fox formerly served as chairman of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and currently is chairman of NAMB’s presidential search committee.
His statewide leadership in 2004-05 played a critical role in pressuring the Kansas legislature to place a constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot. It passed with 70 percent of the vote in April 2005. He has been involved on other issues, including the ongoing battle in Kansas over evolution standards in science curriculum.
“We’re real excited. Barbara [his wife] and I have been wanting to do this for a long time,” Fox told Baptist Press. “I’m anxious to share the story of Kansas — how we organized and mobilized to make [the marriage amendment] happen. … I just had to go with where the passion of my heart was.”
Including his travel with NAMB responsibilities and his travel throughout Kansas speaking about cultural issues, Fox estimates that he has been gone 25-30 weeks a year for “the last several years.” Most of those weeks he was back in the pulpit for Sunday, he said.
“The [church] leadership was ready for some leadership changes,” Fox said. “To take the church to the next level was going to require more of my time here pastoring. Honestly, that’s just not where my heart is. … I’m sad because I love my church, and I’ve pastored for so long. But we’re excited about our new direction.”
Fox and another Wichita pastor, Joe Wright of Central Christian Church, co-host a radio program each Sunday night on Sirius Satellite Radio. The program, “Answering the Call” — which also is broadcast on over-the-air stations — spotlights contemporary issues from a biblical perspective.
Fox does not know if he’ll form his own pro-family group or if he’ll work for other pro-family organizations. Even before his resignation, he was serving as a consultant for conservatives in Iowa and Minnesota who are pushing a marriage amendment in those states. He said he expects Wright to be involved in whatever he does.
In recent years Fox’s name frequently appeared in Kansas newspapers, particularly on the issue of “gay marriage.” In the months leading up to the vote on the marriage amendment, his office received threats via e-mail and regular mail. The week of the election, someone even tried to set the church on fire.
“I’ve paid a real price here in town. I’ve been bloodied up and my church has been bloodied up,” Fox said.
The marriage amendment drive in Kansas may not have been successful without the leadership of Fox and Wright. Initially, they failed, when the Kansas legislature adjourned in 2004 without putting one on the ballot that November. Fox and Wright responded by traveling around the state encouraging Christians to vote out legislators who opposed the amendment. The effort worked. When the new legislature convened the following year, one of its first tasks was putting an amendment on the ballot. In a move the men supported, the amendment was placed on the April ballot — a time in which there were no gubernatorial or congressional elections. The move virtually de-politicized the issue.
“A lot of my life has been given to Southern Baptist causes,” Fox said. “This [new direction] will be a little bit broader focus than just our denomination.”
The Southern Baptist Convention, Fox said, “is a powerhouse, and we need to wake up and get engaged.”