NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Ralph Hodge has been named director of regional operations for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, while Mike Harland has been named director of the LifeWay Worship Music Group.
Meanwhile, Bill Taylor, director of network partnerships, will retire from LifeWay on July 1.
Hodge replaces Mike Miller, who has become executive pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas.
“Regional operations is LifeWay’s area that works most directly with our churches,” Hodge said. “We see communicating with them through our regional directors and our call center as our mission. We want to keep our finger on their pulse so we can continue to serve.”
In developing relationships with local church leaders, a regional operations team of 17 field consultants and 27 Nashville-based call center representatives initiate thousands of conversations with church leaders each year to identify needs they express and offer solutions. Church resource solutions include Bible study resources, magazines, training and enrichment events, music and consultation services. Where needs exist and no solution exists, regional operations staffers communicate information to LifeWay to facilitate development of new solutions that will meet needs of churches across the nation.
Hodge has been at LifeWay since May 1988, serving the past three years as director for LifeWay’s Mid-South/Southeastern regions (Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia). Hodge previously had been a pastor for 24 years.
“Ralph’s experience both at LifeWay and as a pastor brings strong leadership to this role,” said John Kramp, vice president of the church resources division. “He has built strong relationships within LifeWay, with pastors and staff in all kinds of churches, and among the partners in our networks. His knowledge of the church, of leadership, of discipleship and of our work in regional ops is exceptional.”
Harland will lead the new LifeWay Worship Music Group, encompassing music-related employees who previously had been divided among departments throughout LifeWay. The LifeWay Worship Music Group spans six imprints: Genevox, Church Street Music, Church Street Press, Children’s Music Series, Dovetail Music and Made for Praise.
Before joining LifeWay, Harland served as associate pastor for music at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas, for three years. He holds a master of church music degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
An accomplished writer, Harland has published more than 150 songs and produced numerous choral musical projects. His best known songs include “Bow the Knee,” “The Glory of God” and “Run to the Cross.” He has produced several musicals for LifeWay, including “America, We Must Not Forget,” a tribute to the 9/11 tragedy, “Hearts of Worship, Songs of Praise” and the 2005 Christmas musical drama, “Jesus Our Treasure.”
“God didn’t call me to lead music. God called me to lead people,” Harland said. “The only way to do that is to connect with people. Music is one of the main languages God gave me to communicate with, but it is not what I care most about. I care most about seeing people impacted with the truth of God’s Word and His love for them. This area is one of the strengths God gave me to use for His glory.”
Taylor, in retiring from his network partnerships position, said he intends to begin a ministry focused on “partner[ing] with anybody and everybody that supports Christian education in the local church.”
Taylor has been considering the “next step” in his life and ministry for some time, Kramp wrote in a church resources division announcement.
“… Bill has remained resolute in making his life count, in never thinking about ‘retiring’ and to focusing on God’s next ministry assignment for him,” Kramp wrote. “I’ve admired his willingness to take a step of faith — a step without safety nets already in place — so that he would do whatever he sensed God calling him to do.”
Taylor said he will focus his attention on equipping, mobilizing and providing “cutting edge” development for Christian educators around the world.
During his last few years at LifeWay, Taylor has worked extensively to encourage and affirm the importance of ministers of education in churches. In 2004, he helped organize LifeWay’s first Meet Me Across America ministry that took ministers of education across the country to assess churches’ ministries and help design a Kingdom-focused plan to fulfill their missions.
Earlier this year, he helped plan and carry out LifeWay’s first Minister of Education Boot Camp at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center.
Bill Henry, LifeWay’s managing director of network partnerships, will serve as acting director. A formal search for the new director of network partnerships will begin July 1, with the goal of filling the position by Jan. 1, 2006.