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NAMB creates v.p. for cities, elects Phil Roberts to new post

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–R. Phillip Roberts was elected vice president of strategic cities strategies for the North American Mission Board during the agency’s trustee meeting May 6.
The executive leadership position, which is new, was created because “the most formidable and overwhelming challenge ahead of us is to impact our major cities for Christ,” said Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, NAMB president. “Southern Baptists have done a good job reaching town and country areas. Church planting and evangelism have been strong there, but not in our largest cities where most of the people live. This new position will help bring equal emphasis to the cities.”
Primary among Robert’s new responsibilities will be leadership of NAMB’s partnership plan for reaching the mega-cities called Strategic Focus Cities (SFC). Seventeen of those cities in the United States and Canada have been identified as first-priority evangelism and church-planting targets using thousands of volunteers, media blitzes and ministry activities. Chicago and Phoenix are SFC targets for 2000; Boston and Las Vegas for 2001.
Reccord said Roberts also will continue to direct NAMB’s ministries at the United Nations in New York City and ministries to government leaders in Washington. He will also continue serving as NAMB’s resident theologian and will write a regular column for On Mission magazine, the agency’s flagship publication.
“I am humbled and challenged at the opportunity to help lead Southern Baptists to reach the great cities of North America for Christ,” Roberts said. “When we think of the [New Testament] Book of Acts, it is major cities that come to mind: Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth and Rome. When God moves, he very often moves in the cities. That is where the people are, people who need a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. If Southern Baptists are to reach North America for Christ, then we must reach the cities.”
Roberts has served five years as director of interfaith evangelism for NAMB and the former Home Mission Board, which Reccord said has helped uniquely prepare him for the new position.
“Dr. Roberts’ strength in interfaith evangelism brings an added dimension needed in the metropolitan areas which are characterized by their pluralism and international flavors,” Reccord said. “Also, he grew up in a major city, has pastored in a world-class city and headed major projects in cities. He has an amazing background for this strategic position.
Roberts is the son of the late Ray Roberts, a church planter and the first executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. The elder Roberts served on the SBC Peace Committee and as SBC vice president in 1986.
Born in Danville, Ky., Roberts earned a Ph.D. degree from the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He also holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown (Ky.) College and has served as a graduate researcher at Oxford University in England.
He has pastored churches in Belgium, England and Germany and served as missions and evangelism professor at both Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., and Southern Seminary. Roberts and his wife, Anya, have two children, Naomi and Mark.
Ray Newcomb, pastor of First Baptist Church, Millington, Tenn., was elected chairman of NAMB’s board of trustees. He replaces Charles Fuller of Virginia, who served two years as the agency’s first chairman.
Danny Souder, pastor of Northlake Baptist Church, Dallas, was elected first vice chairman, and James “Skip” Owens, pastor of Pinecrest Baptist Church, Charleston, S.C., was elected second vice chairman.
The board’s missionary personnel committee also appointed 30 new North American missionaries to serve as church planters, associational strategists and evangelism specialists in eleven states and Vancouver, British Columbia. NAMB’s Chaplain’s Commission also approved endorsement of 63 chaplains to join more than 3,000 SBC-endorsed chaplains serving around the world in military, health-care, business and institutional settings around the world.
In other business, trustees:
— revised bylaws for two subsidiary media corporations, FamilyNet and TimeRite, to bring them more in line with NAMB’s bylaws.
— reviewed plans for opening of the agency’s new 5,000-square-foot Vision Center during the Southern Baptist Convention in June and viewed a computerized tour of the center.
— recognized 20 trustees who will rotate off the board following this summer’s SBC. They will be replaced by 13 new trustees as a planned downsizing of the governing body continues.

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  • Martin King