RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – International Mission Board trustees approved the appointment of 22 full-time, fully funded missionaries to solve the world’s greatest problem – lostness – during their Sept. 28-29 meeting near Richmond, Virginia. The missionaries — plus two appointed earlier in the year — participated in a Sending Celebration, hosted by Beaverdam Baptist Church in Beaverdam, Va.
The plenary session of the trustees on Thursday (Sept. 29) included the approval of a total balanced budget for 2022-23 of $282,700,000, a 7.8 percent increase over last year’s budget.
Chuck Pourciau, trustee chairman and lead pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., presided over the meeting. Lisa Lovell, first vice chair from Arkansas, called the meeting to order. Jeremy Morton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., was a special guest at the meeting. Morton spoke at the Sending Celebration Wednesday night and brought greetings to the trustees.
IMB President Paul Chitwood thanked Morton for the church’s partnership in reaching the nations.
“By cooperating with thousands of other churches through the IMB, First Woodstock can send, not dozens of missionaries, but thousands of fully funded missionaries,” Chitwood said.
Bringing help and hope
In his plenary address to IMB trustees, Chitwood gave a timely update to Send Relief’s efforts regarding Hurricane Ian which made landfall in Florida on Wednesday (Sept. 28). Chitwood confirmed that Send Relief is working closely with state Baptist disaster relief teams to provide water and other emergency supplies to those affected by the storm. Teams on the ground will be prepared to serve 150,000 meals a day. Send Relief is also deploying a rescue boat manned by a Swift Water Rescue Team to aid in search and rescue efforts.
Chitwood also updated trustees on other IMB business:
- The 2021-22 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has already surpassed the $200 million mark, making it the highest total in history by more than $20 million. “Praise God for the generosity of Southern Baptists,” Chitwood said to enthusiastic applause.
- Southern Baptists gave more than $20 million this year through Send Relief, the compassion ministry partnership of IMB and the North American Mission Board. The total more than doubles the $7 million given last year through Send Relief.
- IMB’s missionary candidate pipeline has hit 1,117, nearly a 400 percent increase over what it was four years ago.
- Church Connections, the effort for every Southern Baptist church to be connected with an IMB missionary, is now fully launched with reports of new relationships being built with local fellowships.
- The Ministry Advancement Team has grown from four members in 2018 to a team of 22 today to better serve faithful givers.
- IMB’s Marketing and Communications Team, built in recent years, is leading an exponential increase in web and social media presence and creating new channels for digital engagement.
- IMB’s Mobilization Team and Candidate Consultant Team for missionary assessment and deployment have grown to include significantethnic diversity, “both of which are important for us to live our mission statement of serving all Southern Baptists well,” Chitwood said.
- Among its other seven affinities, IMB’s newly formed Asian Pacific Rim Affinity has a focus toward reaching its 2.3 billion people.
- IMB has completed the external examination related to abuse and implemented an entirely new system of compliance training, volunteer qualifications and reporting requirements.
In addition to sharing good news, Chitwood noted that IMB’s most valuable asset remains the organization’s relationships — and building those relationships has taken a greater focus.
“What had to change most at the IMB? We had to begin taking an entirely new and different approach to managing our relationships,” Chitwood said.
“From these relationships, I believe God will provide everything the IMB needs to help Southern Baptists steward the Revelation 7:9 vision,” he said. “We need more prayer. We need more financial resources. We need more missionaries. And we need more sending churches. All of these will come from fulfilling our mission statement which is to serve Southern Baptists in carrying out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.
“As we serve Southern Baptists and build and strengthen relationships with them, we will continue to see God rebuild their overseas missionary sending agency and maximize what we are able to do together.”
Chitwood closed his remarks with a reminder of why Southern Baptists must remain on task to reach the nations: 157,690 people die daily without Christ and more than 3,000 people groups remain unengaged with the Gospel.
The week included orientation for 12 trustees elected in June during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif. New trustees beginning their terms of service include: Allison Blessen, Massachusetts; Donald Cline, North Carolina; Tracie Griggs, Alabama; Marci Hare, Ohio; Sacha Hasenyager, Montana; Stephen Hayes, Arizona; Justin Lohmeier, Mississippi; Kristen Nichols, Georgia; Gregory Pickering, Texas; Mary Jane Schwarz, Texas; Tim Sheehy, Tennessee; and Shannon Wallace, North Carolina.
Trustees also elected Edward J. Herrelko III, Ph.D., as IMB vice president of marketing and communications. Herrelko joined the IMB staff in April 2021 as chief marketing and communications officer. The vote by trustees supports Chitwood’s vision to expand IMB’s marketing and communications efforts. Trustees will form a MarCom Committee to serve alongside the work directed by Herrelko.
Prior to coming to the IMB, Herrelko served as CMO and executive director of marketing and communications at Dallas Theological Seminary. Additionally, Herrelko has worked in a digital marketing agency, served as the chief academic officer for two seminaries, and has a corporate background in marketing with Callaway Golf and The Anthony Robbins Company. He earned a Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. and M.A. from Southern California Seminary, and a B.A. from the University of Michigan. He and his wife, Amy, have one daughter.
After closing remarks by Pourciau, Carol Pfeiffer, recording secretary from Texas, closed the meeting in prayer.
The next IMB Sending Celebration will be Nov. 13 in Augusta, Ga., in conjunction with the Georgia Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. IMB trustees will meet again Feb. 1-2, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas.