McDONOUGH, Ga. (BP)–Only the second president in the North American Mission Board’s 10-year existence, Geoff Hammond -– along with 125 new missionaries and seven chaplains -– was charged and commissioned during ceremonies at Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga.
Unanimously elected to the post by NAMB’s trustees in March, Hammond officially took office in May.
Some 1,400 people attended the Oct. 8 service, which also was streamed live via the Internet. It featured a processional of 75 U.S., state and Canadian flags, borne by NAMB staffers, middle school and high school students; special praise and worship music by solo artists and the church’s choir and orchestra; and commissioning prayers and sermons.
In introducing Hammond, his wife Debbie and two sons, Timothy and Nicholas, NAMB trustee chairman Bill Curtis said, “Nights like this help all of us to remember what NAMB is all about. It’s about the missionaries, about planting churches and making a difference in the lives of people.
“Geoff and Debbie Hammond are true missionaries in every sense of the word,” said Curtis, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Florence, S.C.
“Before they married, Debbie was a journeyman missionary in Brazil. Dr. Hammond has held many Kingdom positions that have uniquely prepared him to be president of NAMB. He was also a missionary in Brazil, a director of missions in Arkansas, a church planting strategist in Virginia, a church’s minister of global missions, a NAMB missionary in Virginia and senior associate director for the SBCV [Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia].
“All of these amazing opportunities given to him by God prepared him in a unique, special and providential way as he begins to lead the North American Mission Board,” Curtis said.
In the commissioning charge to the Hammonds, Hershael York, associate dean of ministry and proclamation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Hammond was arriving as president of NAMB to minister to a continent undergoing rapid change.
“Our society and culture are growing ever browner in skin and graying in hair color,” York said. “We have an aging population, increased immigration and are more culturally diverse.
“But one thing is certain not to change. We will never be more lost than we are today. The human heart will never be more depraved than it is right now. The Gospel will never be more necessary than right now. Surface strategies may have to change and adapt but behind the missiology, there’s always the Lamb,” York said.
Before his closing commissioning prayer, Gregory S. Faulls, chairman of the trustee president search committee and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Owensboro, Ky., asked committee members, trustees and others to come to the platform, surround the Hammond family and place their hands on them.
In his prayer, Faulls thanked God “for this leader, Geoff Hammond, and I ask You would give him, from this point on, the vision — vivid, clear, colorful, compelling — of North America. Reveal to him in the boardroom, in the prayer closet, in his car, in an airplane and at his desk Your strategy for organizing the human and financial resources to the give greatest Kingdom impact.
“Give him great wisdom, grant him unique understanding of Your holy and inerrant Word. Give him a unique understanding of this world, Your mission field. Give him a unique understanding of the opportunities that are before us in such a time as this. God, grant this man courage, the courage to always lead with integrity and authenticity,” Faulls prayed.
Jerry Rankin, president of the SBC’s International Mission Board, said he has known the Hammonds for years because of their work with the IMB.
“I’ve known of his heart for church planting and for reaching a lost world,” Rankin said. “We just praise the Lord that He has brought Dr. Hammond into this place of leadership. We’ve already had many occasions for consultation and planning, and I’m so excited about the powerful synergy that I believe God is bringing about between our two mission boards to reach the world. We have the same vision and purpose.”
Mickey Noah is a writer with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.