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Pitts, Louisville DOM, honored by peers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–When the eyes of the Southern Baptist Convention were on Louisville, Wesley Pitts may not have been the most visible person involved. But he certainly was busy behind the scenes making sure the city put its best foot forward.

For Pitts, who has led Louisville’s Long Run Baptist Association for more than a decade now, 2009 was a busy and unique year.

Between the SBC annual meeting, Crossover Louisville, his term as president of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions and leading the largest association of Kentucky Baptist churches, Pitts had his hands full.

In recognition for his tireless work, the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship of Directors of Missions has named Pitts as its DOM of the Year.

It was an honor for which Pitts said he was surprised to even be considered. “I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said, while adding that he appreciated the award because it came from his fellow DOMs.

But that was just about all the credit Pitts seemed willing to accept.

When discussing Crossover Louisville, the evangelistic campaign which preceded the SBC annual meeting in June, Pitts deflected all praise and recognition.

“I had a real quality group of people to work with,” he noted.

The work for Crossover started more than a year earlier with Pitts and Kentucky Baptist Convention evangelism growth team leader Ross Bauscher enlisting a former KBC president, Charles Barnes, to coordinate the wide-ranging event.

When all was said and done, more than 3,000 Baptist volunteers from across the U.S. participated in Crossover. That included 79 locations throughout the city with block parties, a Hispanic and international festival and construction of a downtown community center.

In all, more than 1,000 people made decisions for Jesus Christ during the weekend.

The job now, Pitts said, is getting all of those people connected with a church. Follow-up efforts have been ongoing since June and a number of the respondents have been contacted by a church in the Long Run association. “Of course, there’s still a lot of them that we haven’t reached,” Pitts acknowledged.

He also noted the work of the North American Mission Board’s ICE (Intentional Community Evangelism) teams that shared the Gospel with people “cold turkey,” 400 of whom made decisions. Many of them still need to be connected with a church, he said.

With work still to be done, Pitts remained hopeful. “Somewhere down the road, I believe they’ll get involved with a church,” he said.

Not only did Pitts have the responsibility of Crossover, he also wrapped up a one-year term as president of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions. With that came the responsibility of leading its annual meeting.

Pitts “hit a home run with that,” said Larry Baker, KBC’s director of new work and associational missions department. “He just did a great job encouraging our directors of missions around the country. … He represented Kentucky Baptists very well.”

When he wasn’t leading Southern Baptist events, Pitts had the day-to-day task of leading the Long Run association, the largest and, quite possibly, the most diverse collection of Kentucky Baptist churches in the state.

Leading the churches is a challenge in itself, Pitts noted, but the pastors “have been very cooperative and friendly. They’re an enjoyable group to work with.”

Asked if Crossover was a feather in the cap of a ministry career which has spanned more than 40 years, Pitts rebuffed the idea, saying it’s the everyday ministry work that still is most important.

“Crossover would have happened if I hadn’t been here,” Pitts said. “We tried to do it as well as anybody has done. … Overall, I think it is a high mark for the association.”
Drew Nichter is news director of the Western Recorder (www.westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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