NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Duane McDaniel, executive director of the New Orleans Baptist Association, died May 30 after suffering a massive stroke on May 21. He was 54.
McDaniel is survived by his wife Kathleen; four children, Mallory, 15; Matthew, 14; Keanu, 8; and Abby, 7; his mother, Margie McDaniel of McComb, Miss.; and three brothers.
Since 2009 at the helm of the urban Baptist association still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, McDaniel set in place what he called “a holistic missional strategy for glorifying God by proclaiming the gospel in word and deed,” said Jack Hunter of the associational staff.
It was a three-pronged strategy wrapped around compassion ministries, church planting and church health. Gospel-centered compassion ministries seeking the transformation of New Orleans included Baptist community health centers, volunteer urban mission projects, home repair projects and ministries to the homeless.
“Compassion ministries and church planting were very much Duane,” said Hunter, president of New Orleans Baptist Ministries, the compassion ministries arm of New Orleans Baptist Association. “He loved the lost and he loved the needy, and we have a lot of need in New Orleans.”
It was need that led McDaniel to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 30, 2005. He brought volunteers from the church he pastored, Hawaii Kai Church in Honolulu, to New Orleans several times to help in recovery efforts.
“The need and the opportunity for the Gospel began to grow in his heart, and that was the beginning of God moving him to New Orleans,” Hunter said. “He was a dear friend. We were very, very fortunate to have someone of Duane’s intellect and energy to give leadership to the work. He will be missed for sure.”
Veryl Henderson, executive director of the Hawaii/Pacific Baptist Convention, said news of McDaniel’s death stunned those in Hawaii who remember him with respect and love.
“Duane served as pastor of one of our influential churches and as president of our convention in 2006-07,” Henderson said. “He was a passionate leader, guiding our churches to new levels of involvement in community. His death is a loss to the greater Baptist family.
“The news of Duane’s death has brought great sadness to our convention,” Henderson continued. “He was a leader of leaders in his church and in the Baptist family across the Pacific. He will be missed. The skills he imparted to us through his mentoring will carry forward.”
Even as McDaniel established relationships with leaders from the Louisiana Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board, as well as with leaders from New Orleans Baptist Association, he began work on what today is called the Christian Community Health Services—New Orleans Baptist Association.
“We were right in the thick of it,” Hunter said. “We have a physician who is separating from the Air Force this summer … to follow Christ by serving the poor. He plans on being our founding doctor, and we have a couple others in the queue finishing up their residency.”
Another project McDaniel was working on was the Cross of Christ, a quality, durable, volunteer center for people who want to do ministry in an urban environment.
“They’ll be trained and deployed to do home repair work and to meet other community needs,” Hunter said. “They’ll be trained in urban ministry and what it means to follow Christ in an urban post-modern context.”
McDaniel also built a network of church planters starting new works in the greater New Orleans area and provided opportunities for them to engage with each other.
“Duane’s heart was reaching the lost with the Gospel, and developing sustainable multiplying churches,” Hunter said. “We were working hard at it…. He was able to keep us focused on these things — compassions ministries, church planting and church health.
“I wish he could have lived to see some of these things come to fruition,” Hunter said. “It was a major accomplishment to develop this strategy and to marshal the resources to build it.”
McDaniel graduated from Bossier (La.) High School in 1975 and Louisiana State University in 1981 before earning a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1986 and a doctor of ministry degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., in 2005.
He was senior pastor of Hawaii Kai Church in Honolulu, Hawaii, from 2001-09. In July 2009, McDaniel became executive director of the New Orleans Baptist Association, the former “BAGNO” — Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.
The funeral is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at First Baptist Church of New Orleans, with pastors David Crosby and Fred Luter Jr. officiating. A reception in the church fellowship hall will follow.
Hunter said members of New Orleans-area churches, pastors and fellow workers in the ministry are invited to participate in an honor guard for the family.
“Those wanting to participate should arrive at the church by 3:45 for instruction,” he said. “We will form two columns through which the family will pass as they process into the service, and two columns through which they will pass during the recessional.” Those wanting to participate in the honor guard are asked to call the associational office to register: 504-282-1428.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites people to consider the Kathleen McDaniel Children Education Fund. Donations can be made online on http://mcdaniel.chipin.com/mcdaniel-kids-education-fund.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal for the 1,600 churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Frank Michael McCormack contributed to this report.