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Mich., S.C. Baptists name interim execs

FENTON, Mich. (BP) — Interim executive directors have been named by two state conventions: Michigan and South Carolina.

James “Jimmy” Jones, a Detroit native with more than 50 years of ministry in Michigan, is serving as the state convention’s interim exec, while Richard Harris, a retired vice president from the North American Mission Board, is the interim for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Jones, in addition to his interim role, will continue as pastor of First Baptist Church in Trenton, where he has served since 1999 and, earlier, from 1960-83.

Jones is a former president of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan and was the state’s evangelism director for 16 years. He also is a former member of the SBC Executive Committee and a former trustee for GuideStone Financial Resources.

Michigan Baptists are seeking a successor for Bobby Gilstrap, the convention’s exec the past four years who now is leading Dynamic Church Ministries, a ministry based in the Detroit area that provides workshops and resources in evangelism, church planting, missions and congregational health. Gilstrap also is a former member of the Network of Baptist Associations’ national leadership team.

The search team for a new executive for the Michigan convention, in a statement issued Oct. 16, noted: “The BSCM consists of just under 300 Southern Baptist churches in a mission field of 9.9 million people. Our mission statement is: Doing whatever it takes to see lives transformed for Christ through starting, strengthening and mobilizing churches.”

Resumes for the post, to be received from Nov. 1-Dec. 31, can be sent by email to or by mail to Executive Director-Treasurer Search Committee, c/o Baptist State Convention of Michigan, 8420 Runyan Lake Road, Fenton, MI 48430.

Jones, in a news story in the Michigan Baptist Beacon, said, “It is my deepest desire that we can come together as brothers and sisters in Christ at our solemn assembly preceding our convention,” Jones said, referencing the Nov. 7-8 annual meeting at Bambi Lake Retreat in Roscommon.

In South Carolina, Richard Harris is serving as the Baptist convention’s interim executive-director following the Oct. 7 retirement of Jim Austin, who had led the state’s Baptists since 2007.

Harris served with the North American Mission Board (known as the Home Mission Board prior to the mid-1990s) for 29 years and was its interim president from 2009-10.

“God has been stirring my heart as I think of the possibilities” for South Carolina Baptists, Harris said after his election to the interim post by the convention’s Executive Board.

Harris said he wants “significance” to mark his time as interim. “I want to push the ball farther down the field for the Kingdom,” he said. He encouraged South Carolina Baptists not to be average, noting, “That’s as close to the worst as it is to the best.”

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