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IMB trustees elect Lloyd Atkinson vice president for mission personnel

HOUSTON (BP)–Lloyd Atkinson, who has guided the missionary appointment efforts of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for 10 years, was elected vice president for mission personnel by the agency’s trustees Jan. 27.
In his new position, Atkinson will lead the board’s office of mission personnel, which includes the selection of both long-term missionaries and shorter-term mission workers serving through the International Service Corps and Journeyman programs.
Since 1989 Atkinson, a former missionary to Chile, has directed the board’s personnel selection department. He and his staff guide hundreds of prospective missionaries each year through an exhaustive application process required for missionary service. In 1997 Atkinson assumed additional administrative responsibilities after being named associate vice president for mission personnel.
In these roles, “Lloyd has provided excellent leadership and has reflected outstanding administrative skills,” said IMB President Jerry Rankin. “His vision and ability to develop and staff a team has enabled us to process record numbers of missionaries without sacrificing the quality, thoroughness and professionalism of our appointment process. His experience and commitment will be a real asset in managing the growth in personnel we anticipate in the 21st century.”
Atkinson, 57, succeeds Thurmon Bryant, who retired in 1997. Since Bryant’s retirement, Atkinson has handled the day-to-day operation of the board’s office of mission personnel while Don Kammerdiener, IMB executive vice president, has been the office’s acting vice president.
“Lloyd has the vision, ability and maturity to carry out the tasks that will be required of him as vice president for mission personnel,” Kammerdiener said. “The principal function of the International Mission Board is to appoint missionary personnel for service overseas. The care with which they are selected ultimately plays a major role in the board’s success.
“Lloyd brings instinctive gifts and great experience in both overseas service and personnel work. He will continue a long tradition of excellence in this role.”
Under Atkinson’s leadership, the board last year sent more mission workers overseas than ever before in its 153-year history. That total of 885 new missionaries marked a 33.4 percent increase over 1997 and more than doubled the highest net growth of any previous year.
“This isn’t something we have done; it’s something God has done,” said Atkinson.
While chalking up record growth, Atkinson and his staff also have searched for creative ways to handle the ever-increasing flow of potential mission workers who are coming through the board’s selection channels. “God has answered our prayers (for missionary personnel) more than we could have asked for, so our challenge now is how to handle the load,” Atkinson said.
In the face of that challenge, Atkinson is guiding his staff to “work smarter.” For example, his staff currently is seeking to involve qualified Southern Baptists — such as seminary personnel and staff members of key Southern Baptist churches — to help with the initial screening of missionary candidates.
At the same time, Atkinson and his staff remain committed to “helping people make the best spiritual decision they can about this matter of missions,” he said. “Our staff has a spiritual role of walking alongside these missionary candidates and ministering to them as they make these decisions.”
He added: “I’m excited about the future, about looking for where God is at work and then finding ways to facilitate what he is doing in people’s lives.”
Atkinson, a native of Miami, and his wife, Sue, served as IMB missionaries to Chile from 1972-77. He later joined the board’s staff as administrative assistant to the director for western South America. From 1981-86 he worked as a candidate consultant in the board’s personnel selection department.
Besides his mission service, Atkinson has been pastor of three Virginia churches.
He graduated from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He also earned a certificate in clinic pastoral education at the Institute of Religion in Houston.

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  • Mary Speidel