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Joseph Bunce nominated for N.M. executive director’s post

ALBUQUERQUE (BP)–Joseph L. Bunce, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Bloomfield, N.M., is the unanimous choice of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico executive director search team to become the state convention’s next executive director.

A special meeting of the convention will be held Jan. 31 at Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque during the state evangelism conference to act on the recommendation. If elected, Bunce will assume his new role Feb. 13.

The search team was elected by the BCNM executive board in July 2004 when BCNM Executive Director Claude Cone announced his intention to retire on March 1, 2005, after 20 years in the convention’s top post.

As Cone’s retirement drew near early this year, the executive board voted to name the BCNM’s interim director of evangelism ministries, James Semple, as acting executive director upon Cone’s retirement.

Bunce has spent all but four of his 50 years and his 30-year ministry in New Mexico. He was president of the New Mexico convention in 1998 and 1999.

Born into a family that already had eight children on Nov. 24, 1955, Bunce was raised in a home of a Mormon father and a Catholic mother. His father, Lloyd Bunce, who is now deceased, and his mother, Mary Jane Bunce, who still resides in Clovis, would later give Bunce a ninth sibling.

Bunce’s mother is Hispanic, so he comes from a bicultural home which gives him “an understanding of the diverse cultures of our state,” search team chairman Rick Sullivan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia, said.

A 1973 graduate of Clovis High School, Bunce was led to Christ the following year by a fellow Clovis Fire Department fireman. He made his profession of faith and followed the Lord in baptism at First Baptist in Clovis.

Floyd Baptist Church called the young believer to be its pastor in 1976.

In May 1976, Bunce and a fellow New Mexico pastor went to visit the state convention’s Inlow Baptist Camp near Tajique. In the camp’s kitchen, he met a staff member from Las Cruces, Sharon Dishroon, whom he would marry that December at Highland Baptist Church in Clovis.

The couple left the Floyd church in 1978 to accept the call of Highland Baptist Church in Eunice, where he served from 1978-80, and then Bel Aire Baptist Church in Hobbs, 1980-83.

Bunce graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales in 1981 with a degree in religion. The Bunces left New Mexico in 1983 to attend Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., where he also would pastor a church in Kearney, Mo., from 1983-84; and a church in King City, Mo., from 1984-87.

After graduating from Midwestern with a master of divinity degree in 1987, the Bunces returned to their beloved eastern New Mexico to accept the call of First Baptist Church in Melrose, which he would lead the next six years.

First Baptist Church in Bloomfield extended a call in August 1993, and the couple has served the church ever since. Bunce earned a doctor of ministry degree with an emphasis in pastoral care from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., in 2000.

For the past 11 years, the church in Bloomfield has been among the leaders in the state in the number of baptisms, and LifeWay Christian Resources President-elect Thom Rainer listed the church in his book, “Effective Evangelistic Churches.”

Since Bunce became pastor, the church has expanded to three separate worship services, each with distinct worship styles, and the staff has grown to include four associate pastors, a staff counselor and several support staff members. Attendance under Bunce’s leadership has increased from 150 to more than 900.

To accommodate the dramatic growth, the church has conducted several building programs, the most recent being a 21,377-square-foot, $4 million worship center and educational space.

The church’s giving to mission causes also has grown, to 17 percent, 12 percent of that to the Cooperative Program, which supports the ministries of the BCNM and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Through the years, Bunce has led revivals across the country and participated in overseas mission trips, including Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Thailand.

Currently Bunce is a member of the board of trustees of Golden Gate Seminary, and he has served on the board of Midwestern Seminary and as a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations.

He is a former member of the BCNM executive board, having chaired its missions committee and the policy and personnel committee. He also has served as chairman of the state convention’s nominating committee.

Bunce also has been director of evangelism ministries for Plains and San Juan Baptist associations, discipleship director for Southeastern Baptist Association and director of the ASSISTeam for Plains and Portales associations (now Eastern Baptist Association).

He has served as a chaplain for police departments where he has pastored since 1978 and has been active in starting Power Lunches in public schools, which have allowed churches access into the schools to provide lunch for students and to hold Bible studies.

Bunce has been an instructor for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and has served as a site supervisor of graduate counseling students for Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo.

This past February, the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce awarded Bunce the Christine Donisthorpe Leadership Award in recognition of his “outstanding leadership and service.”

The Bunces, who have been married 29 years, have two grown sons, Micah and Caleb, and two grandchildren.

    About the Author

  • John Loudat