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New pres.: NAMB faces ‘historic moment’

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In his first official appearance as the North American Mission Board’s new president, Geoff Hammond told trustees he believes the board stands at an historic moment and that “God has shown favor on us.”

Hammond delivered opening remarks to the 44 board members at the May 9 meeting, using 1 Samuel 14 –- the story of how Saul was outnumbered by the Philistines -– as his scriptural theme.

Hammond reminded the trustees of how Saul’s band of 600 was outnumbered and out-armed by thousands of Philistines and that Saul was so overwhelmed that all he thought he could do was gather his troops under some pomegranate trees and wait -– not knowing what to do next.

Continuing with the scripture passage, Hammond noted that Saul’s son, Jonathan, stepped out in faith and proceeded to defeat the Philistines even as Saul sat under the pomegranate trees with his solders.

“You know what God does in impossible situations, He calls leaders to step up, step out and lead,” Hammond said. “God is calling us at the North American Mission Board to step up and step out and lead. God is calling us to seize the divine moment, not to stay under the pomegranate trees and wait.”

Hammond said NAMB has “a moment in time to impact the world by assisting Southern Baptists in sharing Christ, starting churches and sending missionaries throughout North America.”

Hammond said he is proud of how NAMB partnered with Blacksburg, Va.-area Southern Baptist churches, Baptist associations and state conventions to step into an impossible situation on the campus of Virginia Tech in April in the wake of the tragic shooting of 32 students and staff members.

“We were able to work with our state partners,” Hammond recounted. “Disaster relief trailers were brought to the site and food was given to emergency workers and state police. President Bush’s Secret Service detail asked us to help provide food.”

Hammond encouraged the trustees to challenge NAMB officers and staff to take risks. “When you see divine moments of opportunity, we need you to help us to step out in faith and punch some holes in the darkness,” Hammond said.

Following Hammond’s remarks, the NAMB board’s various committees issued their quarterly reports. Among the results:

— The trustees’ partnership mobilization committee announced that 3,019 churches have now committed to NAMB’s Acts 1:8 initiative; more than 111,000 Southern Baptists have attended Global Impact Celebrations; nearly 23,000 have attended “On Mission Celebrations” at 327 churches so far in 2007; WorldChangers registration is up 7 percent, with more than 22,500 registered; PowerPlant registration is up 19 percent to almost 1,900; nearly 600 signed up to participate in WorldChangers and PowerPlant projects over spring break; and some 74,000 Southern Baptists have now been trained as disaster relief volunteers.

— In missionary personnel, applications for student missionary positions are up 26 percent this year, with placement up almost 18 percent.

— In church planting, a goal in 2008 — in cooperation with its Acts 1:8 partners –- is for 1,875 new churches to be started, generating 15,000 baptisms.

Recognizing and honoring Roy Fish, who served as NAMB’s interim president during the past year, NAMB board chairman Bill Curtis said, “God has used Dr. Fish in an amazing way over the last year. As the face of NAMB, he has been a tremendous blessing to NAMB.”

Following a long standing ovation, the retired evangelism professor responded by saying, “When I embarked on this, I had no idea what it would entail. I’m grateful for being asked to serve. It has been a chapter without parallel in my Christian life.”

Curtis also announced that Fish has agreed to serve as NAMB Ambassador-at-Large, representing the board at churches and special events throughout North America.

Curtis also recognized Carlos Ferrer, interim chief operating officer, and Harry Lewis, interim executive vice president-ministries, for stepping up in their day-to-day roles during the 11-month transition leading to the election of Hammond as NAMB’s new president in March.

For the second year in a row, the board elected Curtis, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Florence, S. C., as board chairman; Tim Patterson, senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., as first vice chairman; and Dennis Culbreth, senior pastor of River Oak Church in Chesapeake, Va., as second vice chairman.

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  • Mickey Noah