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Midwestern announces alumni award recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced the recipients of this year’s alumni awards.

Clyde Meador, executive vice president of the International Mission Board (IMB), and James H. Wells, director of missions for Tri-County Baptist Association in Missouri, will receive Alumni of the Year awards during the seminary’s national alumni luncheon, slated June 16 in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Honorary Alumni of the Year awards will be presented to Max Barnett, retired director of the University of Oklahoma Baptist Student Union; Gene Downing, current Midwestern trustee and his wife, Jo; and Charles S. Kelley Sr., a former Midwestern trustee.

The awards are given to those who have excelled in ministry and who have remained prayerfully and financially supportive of the mission of the seminary. Meador was named executive vice president of the IMB in 2003. He previously was associate vice president for administration for the IMB’s office of overseas operations. Meador and his wife, Elaine, were appointed as IMB career missionaries in 1974 and for 27 years served in several leadership positions throughout Asia.

“Dr. Meador represents and embodies the focused and earnest commitment to world evangelism that we believe permeates the purpose of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,” said R. Phil Roberts, MBTS president.

Wells entered the pastorate in 1966 and for the past 38 years has served in key positions in the Missouri Baptist Convention as well as the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been the director of missions for Tri-County Baptist Association since 2000.

A fellow Missouri Baptist, Doug Richey, pastor-teacher of First Baptist Church in Clever, described Wells as an example to both current and future students at Midwestern of how one can serve Christ faithfully at the local church, associational, state and national levels.

“He is theologically driven which by necessity fuels his passion for evangelism,” Richey added. “He is a Midwestern alumnus of whom we can all be proud.”

Max Barnett is one of the foremost leaders of campus ministries in the SBC, having served as director of the University of Oklahoma Baptist Student Union for more than 37 years.

“Max has a mentoring program which sends out highly experienced campus ministers all over the world,” said Thorvald B. Madsen II, MBTS interim academic dean. “He has placed graduates of this program at UCLA, University of Michigan, Iowa State, Ohio State University and University of Colorado. He has been the driving force behind our collegiate ministry concentration in the M.Div. degree and in that capacity has become one of our best recruits,” Madsen added.

Gene and Jo Downing are co-owners of Downing Wellhead Equipment Inc. in Oklahoma City. With God’s help, the Downings have had a successful business for 24 years and have weathered such storms as the oil bust in the early 1980s.

As well as being a leader in his community, Gene is a licensed pilot, donating much of his time to the Angel Flight of Oklahoma, which he currently serves as president. Last year he transported patients to several locations in the United States, including Houston, St. Louis, San Diego and Rochester, Minn.

The Downings said they took personally Jesus’ words to His disciples, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required,” when they recently donated $100,000 to the refurbishing of Midwestern’s north campus property.

Charles Kelley and his wife, Doris, now residents of New Orleans, lived most of their lives in Beaumont, Texas, where they owned the Kelley-Hixson Funeral Home and were active in First Baptist Church.

Charles was involved in Baptist life at the state and denominational levels, including the Executive Committee and three seminary boards -– Midwestern, Southeastern and New Orleans.

In 2000, the Kelleys contributed $100,000 to Midwestern to assist with the purchase and renovation of the seminary’s north campus property.

For more information on the national alumni luncheon in Indianapolis, contact Midwestern Seminary’s institutional advancement office at (816) 414-3722 or toll-free at 877-414-3722. Thanks to a special gift of encouragement by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate Russell Shinpoch and First Baptist Church of Snellville, Ga., there will be no charge for this year’s luncheon. However, seating is limited to 150.

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  • Susan Reed