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HMB’s Kelley committed to SBC restructuring

ATLANTA (BP)–Ernest Kelley, new interim president of the
Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, told the agency’s staff he “is and has been for some time committed to restructuring and to bringing about the North American Mission Board as envisioned in the ‘Covenant for a New Century’ and approved by the SBC.”

“I am committed to doing the right thing in the right way and to being honest and open in all dealings with you as staff as well as others involved in the transition,” Kelley said during the first employee meeting of the new year. Kelley, who previously served as HMB executive vice president, was elected interim president in December by the agency’s board to serve until the new North American Mission Board is formed and selects a president this summer.

Kelley told the staff Jan. 8 the next few months would be difficult with anticipated reductions in staff, acknowledging he does not know how many employees will be needed in the new organization. “More important than the number of people are the functions the new agency will be asked to perform. You could run the new organization with 100 people or with a thousand, but you couldn’t perform the same number of functions. We want the right number of people to perform the ministries assigned.”

Kelley said he believes NAMB will be a more focused,
effective agency, and he assured the staff that even though the Home Mission Board will cease to exist later this year, “home missions will continue to be done by dedicated missionaries supported by equally dedicated staff.” When asked if missionary positions are in jeopardy, Kelley said, “No. The cooperative budgets with state conventions will remain relatively unchanged for 1997 and 1998 and any changes will be negotiated with the states.”

Following Kelley’s address, Gary Jones, HMB vice president of services, reviewed previously announced severance benefits for employees not offered a position with NAMB, which include a minimum of four weeks’ salary plus accrued benefits. He said notification of those affected will begin following release of a more complete organizational structure for the new agency.

“Notifications will not happen all at the same time,” Jones said. “The process will take place over a period of several months as final staffing decisions are made.”

Kelley also offered his assessment of requirements for
employees of the new agency. “If I were staffing the new mission board, I would want people who have a deep, genuine godliness, are committed soul-winners, are creative and skilled at what they do and who agree with the direction of the new agency and the Southern Baptist Convention.”

During the interim period, Kelley said, “We still have an agency to run and we can only do that as we work cooperatively … seek God’s leadership … and pray for one another — not casually or corporately but personally, one for another by name.” He concluded the meeting with a time of small-group prayer.

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  • Martin King