ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Following a unanimous vote by FamilyNet’s board of trustees Aug. 7, North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees Aug. 8 voted unanimously to accept a letter of intent from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries outlining the ministry’s intention to purchase NAMB’s FamilyNet television network.
Under terms of the letter, NAMB and In Touch Ministries will work together to evaluate and negotiate the planned sale and purchase of FamilyNet, and finalize details for the sale on or before Oct. 31, 2007.
NAMB board of trustees chairman Bill Curtis, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Florence, S.C., said the sale “will result in two very significant Kingdom events.”
“First,” he said, “it will enable NAMB to focus on its primary tasks as the North American missions arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Second, it will enable FamilyNet to become the network Southern Baptists always dreamed it could be.”
Curtis said the sale to In Touch Ministries enables FamilyNet to grow while NAMB can focus energies and resources on its core ministry tasks.
“Throughout the years, Southern Baptists have used media to impact our nation with the Gospel,” Curtis said. “For more than 50 years, the Radio and Television Commission, and later the North American Mission Board, has attempted to do this through the development of the Acts and then FamilyNet television networks.”
After more than 50 years in the ministry, Stanley, founder and chairman of In Touch Ministries, said he is excited about a new opportunity to reach millions of people around the world, while also continuing the mutual goal of NAMB, which is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I am grateful to the people at NAMB for laying the groundwork at FamilyNet which has made this extraordinary and exciting opportunity possible,” Stanley said in a statement. “We, at In Touch Ministries, look forward to continuing FamilyNet’s tradition of creating and providing excellent, inspiring, family-friendly programming for cable providers, network affiliates and viewers.”
Under the agreement, a NAMB representative would hold a chair on FamilyNet’s board of directors, and NAMB would receive weekly program time on both the television and radio arms of the network. Although not part of the agreement, In Touch has also indicated NAMB will have access to its state-of-the-art studio facilities and other communications technology resources.
Tim Patterson, vice chairman of NAMB’s trustee board and senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., chaired a task force, established in February, to examine future strategies for FamilyNet, which included many options, including the sale of the network.
“One of our concerns, in the event that we would consider selling FamilyNet, was that the purchaser would agree with us philosophically and doctrinally and would have had the same heart as Southern Baptists,” Patterson said. “When we were approached by In Touch and Dr. Stanley, we were grateful that a ministry like this would be interested.”
Patterson said it was important to trustees that FamilyNet continue to have Southern Baptist ties and maintain a strong evangelistic element in FamilyNet’s programming.
“Dr. Stanley has assured us that this will become one of the strongest evangelical, conservative Christian networks in America today and beyond,” Patterson said. He added that it was clear to trustees that God clearly orchestrated the events.
NAMB’s FamilyNet task force started its process before Geoff Hammond became president of NAMB this past May, but Hammond says the agency will continue to use media to help spread the Gospel across the North American continent.
“The North American Mission Board still resources and encourages Southern Baptists through many forms of media,” Hammond said. “The strategy to use media as one of the many tools to help us share Christ, start churches and send missionaries has not changed. We are also ready, in this digital age, to investigate new and innovative ways to get our messages out while continuing to use the access we have to radio and television through ITM.”
Based in Alpharetta, Ga., The North American Mission Board assists Southern Baptists in their task of fulfilling the Great Commission. NAMB supports the work of missionaries, chaplains and mission volunteers who serve throughout the United States, Canada and their territories. NAMB’s work is done in cooperation with state and local partners and is supported through gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
Stanley has served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., since 1971. He is also the founder and president of In Touch Ministries, whose “In Touch” radio and television program has been translated into more than 100 languages. He has twice elected (1984 and 1985) as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and is a New York Times best-selling author.