MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (BP) — Cecil W. Seagle will end five years of service as executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana on Dec. 16.
Seagle, 76, made the announcement during the opening session of the SCBI Executive Board’s Aug. 15-16 meeting at the Indiana convention’s Highland Lakes Baptist Camp in Martinsville.
Seagle was elected as SCBI executive director on Nov. 1, 2011, after serving eight months as interim executive director, a role he assumed after 22 years as the Florida Baptist Convention’s missions division director.
Seagle succeeded Stephen Davis who accepted a vice president position with the North American Mission Board.
Seagle’s relationship with Indiana began in 2003 with a Florida missions partnership. In 2007, the partnership began to focus on how to impact Indiana’s urban centers, culminating in Indianapolis being designated as a “Send City” in the North American Mission Board’s emerging Send North America strategy. In that process, he became increasingly aware of the opportunities and challenges for reaching Indiana with the Gospel as he worked with the SCBI and the Indianapolis-area Crossroads Baptist Association in developing a vision for statewide outreach.
“Those visits and meetings turned into warm friendships and relationships based on trust and a common purpose and mission,” an SCBI news release stated Aug. 16.
SCBI President Darin Garton, founding pastor of Oak Creek Community Church in Mishawaka, said Seagle has been “a respected and faithful servant of the Lord and has led us well. His passionate and godly leadership has been felt across Indiana and he will be sorely missed. Dr. Seagle has been diligent to help our state convention put a transitional leadership plan in place and our executive team has already met and is praying about several options for the future leadership of our state convention.”
Seagle, in his final report to the board, challenged the leaders to “stay razor-focused on biblical priorities, to renew their commitment to Christ-centered evangelism and to remember that God chose SCBI to be part of the process to impact Indiana with the Gospel.”
“You have honored us, and Peggie and I have done our best to honor, serve and love you,” Seagle said. “We will never forget your support, trust and friendship. You are simply an amazing board of Jesus-honoring people — and I can look you in the eye and say we love you deeply, we respect you fully and will pray for you in this time of transition.”
The SCBI news release noted that Seagle led the convention through “several transitions with NAMB, current marriage issues (Supreme Court decisions), how the church should respond to our current culture, the need for evangelism, increased emphasis in church planting and leadership development, needed changes to the convention finances and the physical relocation of the offices.” The sale of the SCBI office building in Indianapolis, which needed $300,000 in repairs, was completed last year, with a new convention office facility being opened debt-free at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp.
The news release additionally noted:
— Over the past five years, SCBI churches have given $4.5 million through the Cooperative Program channel of Southern Baptist missions and ministry support, $2 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, $1.5 million to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, $350,000-plus through the Indiana State Missions Offering, for a total of $8,350,000 for missions causes. Meanwhile, SCBI churches have participated in mission trips to a number of countries, including China, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Philippines and Macedonia.
— In a strengthened church planting process, 100-plus plants have been initiated in the past five years, with a high of 30 plants one year, along with improved assessments, the development of Planting Equipping Centers and more effective use of the SCBI’s Church Planter Basic Training.
— In a more focused emphasis on leader development, the convention has added Associational Leader Labs and HILL: High Impact Leader Lab in addition to the development of a coaching process for church pastors, church planters and leader development participants.
— Improvements at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp have included the near-completion of a 450-seat auditorium, a new conference and storage building, a new log cabin and improvements to the recreation facilities, including more than two miles of hiking trails.
— Seagle provided assistance to the Indiana Baptist Foundation in moving toward a greater place of growth and transitioning to a new foundation president.
In returning to Florida, the Seagles plan to live in Jacksonville to be closer to family and their “grandkids.” Their two sons are pastors, Mark at Mandarin Baptist Church in Jacksonville and Donnie at Holly Springs Baptist Church in Franklin, N.C.
The search committee for a new executive director, according to SCBI bylaws, will be the Executive Board’s administrative committee, chaired by David Cullison, senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Evansville.