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Hawkins is elected Annuity Board president

DALLAS (BP)–O.S. Hawkins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, has been elected the seventh president of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Hawkins, 50, will begin his work with the Annuity Board Oct. 1, 1997, and Paul W. Powell, current president, will become a consultant to the board until his 65th birthday in December 1998.

Hawkins was elected in a unanimous vote during a brief, called meeting of the board of trustees Sept. 12 at the Hyatt DFW Hotel at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Hawkins, pastor of First Baptist Church since August 1993, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and received degrees from two Texas schools.

“This was the most difficult decision in my life,” Hawkins told a news conference after the board meeting. “I sensed a call of God to this expanded ministry.”

The prominent Dallas pastor was offered the nomination by an eight-member presidential search committee named in November 1996. Chaired by J. Ray Taylor, a retired Fort Worth, Texas, insurance executive, the committee brought a list of 12 “qualities, traits and/or characteristics” for approval by the full board of trustees in February 1997 before beginning a nationwide search that ended in early September when Hawkins agreed to allow his name to be presented.

Timothy E. Head, chairman of the trustees, when asked at a news conference what Hawkins’ salary would be, said it was in the mid-point of a salary range, but would not disclose the range. Head said the salary was “a trustee matter.”

Taylor told the trustees the committee was unanimous in its recommendation and Hawkins “met all 12 of our desirable traits.” Taylor also said that a consultant employed by the committee reports that this was the first candidate for a position he had ever researched who received “not one negative comment” from references.

Powell, Annuity Board president since March 1990, said, “I commend the presidential search committee, their chosen nominee, and the full board of trustees. Dr. O.S. Hawkins brings to the office a solid track record of leadership and pastoral ministry. I am excited for him, and I am excited for the Annuity Board.”

Head said Powell would continue with the board as a consultant to Hawkins. Powell had announced willingness to step down prior to his 65th birthday in late 1998.

Gordon Hobgood, chief operating officer, also had announced his pending retirement. Board officials said Hawkins would begin the process of finding and recommending Hobgood’s successor as soon as possible.

Before accepting the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Hawkins served congregations in Florida and Oklahoma. He came to Dallas from First Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale, where he was pastor from 1978-1993. In 1993 he was named Fort Lauderdale’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year for his perennial leadership of ministries to people in need in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Fla.

He now becomes head of one of four general boards of ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Annuity Board is assigned management of retirement annuities, relief for ministers and their widows, and insurance and risk management programs. With assets exceeding $6 billion, the board manages active retirement accounts for more than 80,000 Southern Baptist ministers and other employees of churches, agencies and institutions.

Some 27,000 annuitants in pay status receive benefits that total more than $200 million a year. The board has more than 400 employees in its offices located at 2401 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas.

In the news conference, Hawkins cited several reasons he felt God’s leadership to assume the Annuity Board post, including its platform in pursuing a passion for helping other ministers. Hawkins said he hopes to make his 3,000 sermon manuscripts available to fellow SBC pastors and to expand the number of books he has written beyond the current eight.

Hawkins also said he hopes to use the board presidency to mobilize as many as 1,000 retired pasters in missions yearly.

Hawkins said he is looking fowrard to preaching in churches across the country, perhaps as often as every Sunday.
Hawkins received the bachelor of business administration degree from Texas Christian University before studying for the ministry. He received the master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, and the doctor of ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary, formerly in Jacksonville, Fla., and now operating in Atlanta. Honorary doctorates have been awarded by Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Mo., and Dallas Baptist University.

Hawkins and his wife, the former Susan K. Cavness of Austin, Texas, have two daughters, Wendy Hawkins Hermes and Holly Hawkins. Hawkins is the only child of Otis Hawkins of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the late Lucille Hawkins.

Hawkins is a former president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference and was named Clergyman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America in 1993.

A published author, Hawkins’ eight books are “Unmasked: Recognizing and Dealing with Impostors in the Church;” “Jonah: Meeting the God of the Second Chance;” “Revive Us Again;” “Getting Down to Brass Tacks: Advice from James for Real World Christians;” “Drawing the Net;” “In Sheep’s Clothing;” “Tearing Down Walls and Building Bridges;” and “Moral Earthquakes and Secret Faults.”

Head presided at the Sept. 12 board meeting attended by 37 of the 49 current trustees. Head is pastor of the Cooper River Baptist Church, North Charleston, S.C.

Taylor told the trustees at an Aug. 4, 1997, meeting the search committee had considered 22 biographicals and resumes in their six-month work. He did not give any names of persons being considered and did not share Hawkins’ name with the board of trustees until Friday, Sept. 5. By then, rumors of Hawkins’ possible nomination had been widely discussed and reported in local media.

In February 1996, citing the approach of several officer retirements in close proximity, Powell and Hobgood asked the trustees to begin the process of finding successors for the two top offices. Hobgood, who turned 65 in August 1997, and Powell both expressed a desire to retire near their 65th birthdays. The Annuity Board has no mandatory retirement age.

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  • Thomas E. Miller Jr.