COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP) — Jim Austin, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention since April 2007, has announced that he will retire on Oct. 7 of this year.
Dwight Easler, chairman of the SCBC Executive Board, confirmed to The Baptist Courier state newspaper that Austin, 60, told the Executive Board of his decision on May 28.
In his retirement announcement, Austin said he wants to “pass the baton of leadership” to a new executive director who will “assume the challenge of … fleshing out” the initiatives of the Great Commission Resurgence and Seeking the Kingdom task forces. The reports of both task forces were adopted by South Carolina Baptists during Austin’s tenure.
Austin noted that his arrival in South Carolina in 2007 coincided with the “most severe economic recession since the Great Depression” but that South Carolina Baptists “continued to enthusiastically embrace our Lord’s Great Commission and model sacrificial living and giving.”
Easler said Austin’s tenure will be “remembered and celebrated … because of his love for pastors and his heart for missions.”
“His prayer-filled phone calls to pastors in our state as they celebrated their greatest joys or suffered through their deepest pain will always be remembered by those that he touched,” Easler said.
Easler credited Austin for providing “positive change in the way we view pastoral health, forced terminations and the reality of suicide in the pastorate.”
Austin succeeded Carlisle Driggers, who retired February 2007 after 15 years as the convention’s executive director-treasurer.
Prior to coming to South Carolina, Austin had served as an associate executive director for the Missouri Baptist Convention and pastor of Morganton (Ga.) Baptist Church; Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Gainesville, Ga.: and First Baptist Church, Roanoke, Va.
Austin is a graduate of Jacksonville State University in Alabama, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas and Fuller Seminary in California.
He and his wife Debbie are parents of five children.
Butch Blume is managing editor of The Baptist Courier (www.baptistcourier.com), newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.