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SBC DIGEST: Ben Burnett named William Carey president; JJ Washington to join NAMB

Ben Burnett named William Carey University president

By WCU Staff

BATON ROUGE, La. (BP) – The William Carey University Board of Trustees announced Tuesday (June 21) the retirement of longtime WCU President Tommy King and the selection of Ben Burnett as his successor. Burnett will assume his new duties as the university’s 10th president on Aug. 16.

(Left to right) Charles Pickering, vice chairman of the WCU board, Ben Burnett, the next president of WCU, Jimmy Stewart, chairman of the WCU board.

William Carey employees were the first to hear the news in a June 20 message from Jimmy Stewart, chairman of the WCU Board of Trustees.

“The Board of Trustees is very thankful for Dr. King’s long and successful tenure, and we are extremely pleased that the Lord very clearly led to the selection of Dr. Ben Burnett as his successor,” Stewart said. “We look forward to working with Dr. Burnett – as always, expecting great things from God and attempting great things for God.”

After 20 years of service in Lamar County (Miss.) schools, Burnett was elected

superintendent of the Lamar County School District in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011. During his tenure, Lamar County Schools was named an “A” school district by the Mississippi Department of Education. The district also received many state and federal grants in the areas of early childhood, school safety, dyslexia training and after-school tutoring.

Burnett retired from public education in June 2014 and accepted the position of dean of the William Carey University School of Education – which has an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduate and graduate-level education majors. In April 2020, he was named executive vice president of William Carey University.

Burnett succeeds Tommy King, who became president of William Carey University in 2007, but whose service to WCU goes back six decades. He is a WCU alumnus, a campus leader during his student days and the first Carey graduate to become president of the university. Before ascending to the presidency, he served as a WCU trustee, adjunct professor, department chair, and executive vice president.

King became president in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed WCU’s first Gulf Coast campus. King chose the location and directed the construction of the Tradition campus. At the same time, WCU applied to open the WCU College of Osteopathic Medicine, which admitted its first class in 2010 at the Hattiesburg campus.

In January 2017, an EF3 tornado inflicted catastrophic damage to the Hattiesburg campus. Only one building was left unscathed. Six buildings were destroyed outright or damaged so badly they had to be demolished, including the original Tatum Court. King led the rebuilding effort and cut the ribbon on the final tornado recovery project, new Tatum Court, in July 2019.

Read the full story here.

JJ Washington to join NAMB evangelism team

By Roger Alford/The Christian Index

DULUTH, Ga. – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has announced JJ Washington will be its next director of personal evangelism. Washington, who has led the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s state-level evangelism efforts for the past year, will begin his new role July 18.

JJ Washington. Photo by Roger Alford/Christian Index

“I’ve enjoyed my experience at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board,” Washington said. “I feel like we’ve been able to accomplish a lot in a very short time. I was fortunate to be here with this team at this time. I’m also grateful to have the opportunity to potentially have a national impact.”

Washington followed Levi Skipper in the GBMB position. Skipper now leads the GBMB’s church strengthening team.

“I am super excited about the opportunity that JJ has to impact all of SBC life,” Skipper said. “They could not have chosen a more capable and faithful leader.”

Washington, a one-time Georgia high school football standout who went on to play for North Carolina State University, has served in a number of ministerial roles over the years, including on the pastoral staff at First Baptist Church in Woodstock and later as pastor of Woodstock Church–Austell.

With master’s and doctoral degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Washington joined the GBMB in early 2020, initially serving in the role of missions consultant.

In his role at NAMB, Washington will report to Tim Dowdy, NAMB’s senior director for evangelism and leadership.

“JJ Washington is one of the best,” Dowdy said. “He has a genuine heart for Jesus and a passion to share the gospel everywhere with everyone. So when the Lord moved me to NAMB to lead in the area of evangelism and we needed a national director of personal evangelism, I knew who I wanted to ask. I’m so grateful to the Lord for all he has used JJ to accomplish in Georgia, and I’m excited to see how He will use him to help Southern Baptists advance the gospel in North America.”

Washington considers what he does to be akin to coaching in that his job is to encourage and inspire church leaders to excel in the area of evangelism.

“In my experience, the best coaches are the ones who know how to develop you and also how to position you for success,” he said. “That’s what I have tried to do at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and that’s what I hope to do at the North American Mission Board.”

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