ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Trustees of the North American Mission Board approved 60 new missionaries, endorsed 38 Southern Baptist chaplains and heard a report from their presidential search committee during their Oct. 4 meeting at the board’s Atlanta-area offices.
The board also passed a number of new leadership and management policies and heard from Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page.
Page opened the Oct. 4 meeting by telling trustees that God has given NAMB a “monumental task. Southern Baptists need NAMB to set the pace and give us a strategy to win this continent for Christ.”
Page told the trustees it’s not NAMB’s job to win the United States and Canada to Christ; that is the job of the local church.
“It’s NAMB’s job to challenge our churches to do what God has called them to do, and then give us the tools and the direction needed to win North America for Christ,” he said.
According to NAMB statistics, three out of four people in North America -– some 235 million — have no relationship with Christ and thus are spiritually lost.
While some people may have written off the Southern Baptist Convention as irrelevant and outdated, Page said, “I believe there’s a great future ahead. But it’s time for us to get back to basics. We have a great shot to do what God has called us to do.”
Greg Faulls, chairman of the NAMB trustee presidential search committee and senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Owensboro, Ky., updated the trustees on the search process.
“We are trying to make it a thorough, prayer-filled process,” Faulls said. “We neither want to waste time or rush. We’ve got to get it right. We know that what we do will affect thousands of lives over the course of time. We take this seriously and covet your prayers.”
Faulls reported that since the Sept 1 deadline for submitting resumes, the committee has been deliberating and praying. “We’ve narrowed the candidates down to a select list — not a short list but a select list. But we’re still only at the preliminary stages. If you hear that we’ve narrowed it down to one or two men, that’s not true.”
Trustees approved a number of new policies and guidelines designed to clarify existing procedures and implement new accountability for future leaders of the mission board.
The specially appointed Executive Level Policy Committee presented a report that was adopted unanimously by NAMB trustees. The committee, chaired by Larry Thomas of Heber Springs, Ark., was created following a March 24 trustee report that detailed concerns about former NAMB President Bob Reccord’s leadership . Reccord resigned April 17.
A cover memo from the committee explained, “Throughout these recommendations, you will see certain threads repeated: Full disclosure, accountability, priority of NAMB ministry over personal ministries.” The report was accepted without discussion and without opposition.
NAMB trustees also approved a 2007 budget of $124.3 million which is a record budget but only $300,000 more than the current year. NAMB’s chief financial officer, Mitch Crowe, called the budget “conservative but realistic.”
Crowe also gave a positive 2006 financial report he attributed to “the faithfulness of God and Southern Baptists’ giving to the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.” Crowe reported gifts to the Annie Armstrong Offering have already exceeded $55 million this year, which is nearly 9 percent more than had been given at this time last year.
“I’m confident that by the end of the year, Southern Baptists will reach and exceed the national Annie Armstrong goal of $56 million,” he said -– a feat that has only been accomplished three times in the last 25 years.
Linda Moon, who chairs the trustee mobilization committee, announced that 228 Southern Baptist churches are testing a new mission education curriculum for children. The new material is designed for churches that use children’s programs that do not include SBC missions, such as AWANA. Each participating church will use the six 15-minute downloadable lessons that focus on Southern Baptist missionaries and then evaluate the program.
NAMB’s interim chief operating officer, Carlos Ferrer, a native of Cuba, used his report to express “muchos gracias.”
“First, I want to say muchos gracias to God who has been so good to NAMB over the past several months and to Southern Baptists for their overwhelming support of the agency and particularly the Annie Armstrong Offering,” he said.
“Also, I want to say muchos gracias to you the trustees for your wisdom in bringing Dr. Roy Fish to NAMB as interim president. He has been such an inspiration to the staff, and it’s an incredible experience just to be around him.” Fish was named interim president in May.
“And, muchos gracias to our staff here at NAMB for their commitment and focus day-in and day-out for the task we have at hand,” Ferrer concluded.
In other business, the trustees:
— approved a strategic mission plan that includes the NAMB’s mission and vision statements, values and strategic direction. The document summarizes NAMB’s long-range mission objectives as “sharing Christ, starting churches and mobilizing missionaries and volunteers.”
— recognized two employees who are leaving the board. John Yarbrough, vice president of strategic initiatives, has been at NAMB nine years and is leaving to return to the pastorate. Martin King, who joined the then-Home Mission Board in 1992, leaves as director of convention relations to become associate executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and editor of the Illinois Baptist newsjournal.
— went into a 10-minute executive session but reported that no action was taken during the brief session; the reason or subject of the session was not disclosed.
Mickey Noah contributed to this story.