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Merrill Moore dies at 93; was 1st Stewardship exec

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Merrill D. Moore Sr., the first executive director-treasurer of the former Stewardship Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, died Jan. 16 at a health-care center in Maryville, Tenn. He was 93.
Moore, author of “Found Faithful,” an influential book on stewardship among Southern Baptists, led the commission from its creation in 1961 until his retirement in 1971.
He had served as director of promotion for the SBC Executive Committee 13 years, beginning in 1948, before assuming the Stewardship Commission’s helm.
The commission, in a resolution adopted at his retirement, called Moore the SBC’s “Mr. Stewardship.”
“Dr. Moore pioneered the way for stewardship in the churches and in the denomination,” said Jim Powell, director of Cooperative Program relations for the Executive Committee, calling Moore “a true gentleman from the past.”
“He was a very kind person and one who showed deep appreciation for his staff. He was a true leader of people, having been a college president, a pastor and a denominational leader,” Powell said.
“Dr. Moore was a genuine steward,” Powell added. “If it could be done a less expensive way, he would find it.”
The Stewardship Commission was dissolved in 1996 under the SBC restructuring, “Covenant for a New Century,” and its duties were divided between the SBC Executive Committee and the Baptist Sunday School Board.
Moore, several months prior to his retirement, wrote of the challenge of saying “often enough” and in “different fresh and effective ways that stewardship is not man’s plan for raising money. It is God’s plan for rearing his children.”
In a July 1970 article in the former Baptist Program journal of the SBC Executive Committee, Moore noted “there is scarcely any function of a denomination of greater value than its service in helping churches to develop faithful stewards and to lead them to participate significantly in mission support. These services are in a real sense the real heartbeat of the denomination.”
Under Moore’s watch, Cooperative Program giving by SBC churches to SBC and state Baptist convention causes increased from $16.7 million in 1947 to $78.2 million in 1969; overall mission gifts among SBC churches increased from $28.47 million to $133.22 million, multiplying by nearly five times; and overall gifts to SBC churches increased from $132.6 million to $809.6 million, multiplying six times.
Per capita gifts to missions more than doubled during that period, from $4.54 to $11.60.
Moore reminded, however, “all accomplishments are the result of the work of scores, hundreds, and thousands of committed Christians in the states and in the convention. These members of a wonderful team have wrought the good work.”
And, he wrote, “There are still people in every part of the Convention who need to know from experience how wonderful it is to really be partners with God — partners in working his miracles, in his world, in our day when so many have such great need.”
An editorial at the time of Moore’s retirement from the Stewardship Commission in Tennessee’s Baptist & Reflector noted, “A gracious Christian gentleman, Merrill Moore nonetheless is a man of strong conviction and determination; not swayed easily from a course of action which he conceived to be proper in his dedication to the cause of Christ and the advancement of Southern Baptists.”
At the time of his death, Moore was a member of Monte Vista Baptist Church, Maryville. Memorial gifts may be given to the church’s building fund.
Earlier in his career, Moore was president of the Tennessee College for Women, Murfreesboro, from 1940-42.
During 47 years in Southern Baptist work, he served as a field worker in the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s Sunday school department, 1926-27, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Selma, Ala., beginning in 1927; First Baptist Church, Newport, Tenn; Immanuel Baptist Church and Brook Hollow Baptist Church, both in Nashville, Tenn.
At Immanuel in Nashville, Moore was described in a 1944 church bulletin thusly: “A smile that is radiant, a personality that is commanding, a deep and loyal sincerity and the ability to understand and love his fellowman make Mr. Moore not only an outstanding pastor, but the close friend of all his congregation.”
After retirement in 1971, he and his wife, Lorena, served in various overseas assignments with the SBC Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board).
A native of Senatobia, Miss., he was a graduate of Mississippi College, Clinton, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. He was ordained in 1924 at First Baptist Church, Tupelo, Miss.
Moore was preceded in death by his wife. Survivors include a son, Merrill Moore Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn., two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Services were Jan. 19 in Knoxville, with burial in Sherwood Memorial Gardens.