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PROFILES: NAMB’s 4 new vice presidents

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–North American Mission Board trustees approved four new vice presidents during an historic meeting Feb. 9 that resulted in an overhaul of how the entity will function in the United States and Canada. Following are profiles of the four new vice presidents:

LARRY WYNN: Wynn, senior pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Ga., for the past 33 years, is NAMB’s new vice president of evangelism.

“Evangelism is not just a job for Larry — it’s his lifestyle,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “In the 32 years Larry has been pastor of Hebron, the church has baptized more than 10,000 people.”

Ezell said Wynn will work closely with state convention partners to lead and equip Southern Baptists in the area of evangelism, with a special emphasis on “GPS: God’s Plan for Sharing.”

“He understands that evangelism is part of everything we do,” Ezell added.

Said Wynn, “I am extremely excited. When I was called to Hebron 33 years ago, I knew that was my calling. I’m just as convinced that this is a calling of God as well. My passion is evangelism. I really believe Southern Baptists have an opportunity to touch North America in an unprecedented way with today’s technology, communications and with the focus I’m now seeing at NAMB in church planting — in regions where there is little or no Southern Baptist work going on now.”

In his new position at NAMB, Wynn said he views his role as helping churches to develop a passion for evangelism.

“I’m convinced that if we’re going to carry out our mission to reach North America, it cannot be done apart from church planting,” he said. “New churches have an excitement and a zeal that is contagious. Church planting has to be at the center of what we do,” said Wynn, who himself once planted and pastored a mobile home park church in the Atlanta area.

Wynn believes God prepared him for his new NAMB evangelism post through his 33-year history at Hebron Baptist.

“Hebron was in an extremely rural area when we first came here. Dacula High across the street graduated only 60 that first year. In back of the church were nothing but cattle and farms. We were running 70 each Sunday on a $25,000 annual budget.

“Today, Hebron is much bigger, the community has changed and the high school graduates 400 every year,” Wynn said. “So God has given me the privilege to pastor Hebron at every size church found in Southern Baptist life — but all in the same location. So it’s given me insight into a small church and a large church.”

In his three decades at Hebron Baptist — which attracts some 4,800 each week for Sunday worship — Wynn and the church have recorded more than 10,000 baptisms. Hebron is a leading church in the Georgia Baptist Convention in Cooperative Program gifts, and is ranked among the top 20 churches in baptisms and church growth by the Southern Baptist Convention.

A native of Fitzgerald, Ga., Wynn earned a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in psychology and minoring in religion, at Mercer University in 1977. He is also an alumnus of Luther Rice Seminary.

He and his wife, Ethel, have three grown children — Amanda Leigh, Dana Renee and Adam. They also have twin grandchildren, Ryleigh Lynn and Avery Lavon.

Wynn has also served as a chaplain for the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and the Gwinnett County Fire and Police departments.

JEFF CHRISTOPHERSON: Christopherson, 46, has been appointed vice president of the Canadian Region, based in Toronto, as part of a regional restructuring. He will report directly to Ezell.

“Jeff Christopherson has been at the forefront of church planting efforts and has proven his great leadership and mobilizing abilities,” Ezell said.

Christopherson, a native Canadian, has served since 2009 as national church starting team leader for the Canadian National Baptist Convention in Oakville, Ontario. He has worked as a church planter in various areas in Canada since 1995. He also served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, from 1989 to 1995.

“My whole track record is about planting churches in Canada,” he says. “That’s the trajectory God has had me on.” According to Christopherson, Canada has thousands of communities — dating back to the 1600s and 1700s — that have never had an evangelical church in their history.

“In many ways, this is not really a new task for me,” he said, “just a further extension of what my life has always been about. Ever since I was 16, growing up in Saskatchewan, I’ve had a clear call. Church planting is the business God has wired me for. This is just the next step on a long path.”

Planting churches in Canada, Christopherson says, is not like planting churches in the United States.

“We have only seven jointly funded church planting missionaries in Canada. That’s seven for the entire nation and six time zones.

“It really makes sense that Canada will be one region,” said Christopherson. “In going to the regional structure, NAMB is blowing a pretty clear trumpet that our job is to help churches expand the Kingdom. This new structure strategically positions us in a very diverse country.”

Christopherson earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., and his master of divinity at Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. He and wife Laura are the parents of a daughter, Kelley, 21, and a son, James, 19.

AARON COE: Coe, 34, has been appointed to the new position of vice president of mobilization, to be based in Alpharetta, Ga.

Prior to his new assignment, Coe, a native of Louisville, Ky., served from 2003 to 2008 as a NAMB church planting missionary pastor in New York City, where he helped plant the Gallery Church in 2006. In 2008, Coe founded “City Uprising,” mobilizing hundreds of volunteers in the Manhattan area. In 2009, he initiated “SendNYC” for the purpose of mobilizing and equipping people to plant churches in New York City.

Ezell described Coe as “a gifted strategist [who] has demonstrated his mobilization effectiveness through his work in New York City.”

Said Terry Robertson, executive director/treasurer of the Baptist Convention of New York, “Aaron Coe is an excellent choice to lead mobilization efforts for NAMB. In the early days of the Gallery Church of Manhattan, Aaron did a superb job of mobilizing astounding numbers of workers in fulfillment of their strategic start-up plan. His efforts were creative, engaging and effective.

“The Gallery Church is cooperative in giving and in participation with the Baptist Convention of New York,” Robertson said. “In a recent review of contributions of newer churches, I noticed that the Gallery Church makes consistent contributions to the Cooperative Program.”

Coe said both he and his wife, Carmen, believe this role is God’s next step for them.

“God has been preparing us for this. My greatest gift is in the mobilization process. When I was starting the new church in New York City, I loved to mobilize partners. I have a passion for that. I had no aspirations to do anything other than what I was doing in New York. We’re convinced this is an answer to prayer.”

Coe said he is “excited” about the new regional structure Ezell is bringing to the missions entity.

“Every region of the United States is a different context,” Coe said. “For us to understand how to engage those contexts with the Gospel, we need to be closer to the ground there. By having men and women out in regions, we’re going to better understand how to engage more effectively.

“We’ll better understand that the Northeast is different than the Southeast. The West is different from the Northeast.”

It is a pivotal time in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, Coe believe.

“There is a re-emergence of church planting happening in the evangelical world and Southern Baptists are not immune to that. We’ve got an unprecedented number of young people and seminary grads saying, ‘We want to plant churches.’ So Baptists have the opportunity to really tap into that and push back lostness.

“We have the opportunity to regain the pioneering spirit that was in the Southern Baptist Convention in its early days, which provided its greatest expansion. We’re on the brink of another great expansion of the SBC,” Coe said. “The SBC is a sleeping giant and we’re on the forefront of something great. And NAMB is in a good position to help churches reproduce.”

Coe said he and his wife, Carmen — a native of Clemson, S.C. — have a bittersweet feeling about leaving New York City, which he said includes 800 language groups.

“We’ve loved being here for eight years and it’s going to be hard to leave.”

The Coes have three children: Ezra, 4, Danielle, 2, and Joshua, 1.

STEPHEN DAVIS: Stephen P. Davis, 61, has been approved by North American Mission Board trustees as vice president of the Midwest Region. Davis will be based in Indianapolis, Ind., as part of a regional restructuring by the North American Mission Board. Davis will report directly to Ezell.

Davis has served as executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana since 2003.

“Steve Davis has provided great leadership at the Indiana Baptist State Convention since 2003 and pastored for three decades,” Ezell said. “I could not be happier at the prospect of having Steve in this vital role.”

In accepting the newly created position, Davis said, “I am excited about the opportunity to assist Kevin with a new strategy to penetrate lostness in the underserved, unreached areas of North America. I appreciate his great heart for church planting and evangelism.

“His recent statement, ‘We must do better,’ sums up our challenge. The strategy to place vice presidents in the field with authority to make decisions based on priorities and expectations will be a welcome change for state executive directors and North American Mission Board missionaries.”

Davis said “Southern Baptists have always had a tremendous focus on the Great Commission. I believe there is even more we can do — and must do — to maximize God’s resources through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. God has given the North American Mission Board an unprecedented challenge and opportunity to strengthen our partnerships with state conventions, associations and churches, bringing us together around the highest priorities.”

Twenty-three percent of the nation’s population lives in the Midwest, Davis said, adding that NAMB research reveals that 80 percent of people in Indiana do not attend any Christian church on a given Sunday. Some areas of the Midwest have an even higher unchurched percentage, Davis said.

“The Midwest is a great mission field, and we have an overwhelming task. The Israelites probably looked at Goliath and thought, ‘He’s too big to hit.’ David, however, must have thought, ‘He’s too big to miss!’ That’s how I feel about penetrating the vast lostness of the Midwest Region.”

A native of Richmond, Ind., Davis earned a bachelor of arts degree at Dallas Baptist University, a master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and a doctorate of ministry at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Dallas Baptist University.

Davis is married to the former Diana Matheus. They have three adult children — Tylor, Justin and Autumn.
Profiles were written by Mickey Noah, a writer for the North American Mission Board.

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