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SBC DIGEST: New MBTS VP of communications; Texas DR teams at work in Missouri

Kody Gibson named new vice president of communications and brand strategy

By Brett Fredenberg/MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen names Kody Gibson Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy for Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College.

With more than twelve years of experience in Christian higher education, Gibson will lead the seminary’s communications office, including strategic efforts in marketing, branding, design, written and visual content, news and information, and social media.

In his role, Gibson will be responsible for maintaining and extending the For the Church and For the Kingdom visions for the seminary and college.

“I’m delighted to announce Kody Gibson is joining the Midwestern Seminary team as Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy,” said Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen. “He’s a man with many gifts, and, better still, a sterling reputation. Kody loves the local church and is committed to serving it, which makes him a great fit at Midwestern Seminary.”

Most recently, Gibson served as the Director of Enrollment and Communications at Phoenix Seminary.

During his time at Phoenix Seminary, Gibson led several enrollment and marketing initiatives to help see a 75% new student enrollment growth at the seminary from the fall of 2020 to the fall of 2022. He also led the content strategy for all Phoenix Seminary’s digital efforts and launched various marketing campaigns related to online learning, the doctor of ministry program, and more.

Prior to his role at Phoenix Seminary, Gibson served in a variety of roles at Southern Seminary, including Vice President of Communications and Director of Admissions.

At Southern Seminary, Gibson helped pioneer the “Trusted for Truth” campaign, along with his leadership in marketing and brand strategies. He also led the seminary to experience enrollment growth at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels during his time in admissions.

“I’ve known and worked alongside Kody Gibson for nearly fifteen years,” said Midwestern Seminary Senior Vice President of Institutional Relations Charles Smith. “He is a profoundly gifted leader who loves the Lord and understands what we are trying to do in Kansas City. It is an honor to work with him.”

In anticipation of serving at Midwestern Seminary, Gibson said, “Over the years I’ve learned that For the Church is more than a marketing slogan; it’s a mission that permeates everything Midwestern Seminary stands for as an institution.”

“The Midwestern Seminary Communications Team has done what I believe to be some of the best work in content, storytelling, and design in theological education, so the opportunity to lead this remarkable team brings great excitement. I’m thrilled that I get to play a role in stewarding the Midwestern Seminary brand.”

Gibson also spoke to the personal aspect of Midwestern Seminary’s mission, stating the importance of the local church for his own growth in Christ.

“When I think of my life as a Christian, I can’t separate my growth in Christ-likeness from the life of the healthy local churches from which I’ve been a member,” he said.

“The local church is where the glory of the invisible God is on display in the midst of the world’s brokenness, suffering, and sin. The local church has been a harbor for my family through life’s trials and I consider it a kindness of the Lord that I get to serve the church in my role at Midwestern Seminary.”

Gibson received his M.Div. from Southern Seminary and his B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University. He and his wife, Juli, are from Edmond, Oklahoma, and have three children- Liv, Campbell, Joe Ryan, and Greer.

Gibson will replace Dave Wright as the new Vice President. Wright, who served faithfully in the role for eight years, led to establish the For the Church and For the Kingdom brands through his design expertise, website construction, advertising strategies, and overall brand management. Wright will continue to serve the local church as Discipleship Pastor at Northbrook Baptist Church in Cullman, Alabama.

Gospel seeds planted as SBTC DR teams work in flooded Missouri

By Jane Rodgers/Southern Baptist TEXAN

ST. LOUIS (BP) – Rainfall of historic proportions pummeled Missouri and Illinois along the Interstate 70 and 64 corridors on July 26, when an estimated 11 inches of rain fell in an eight-hour period, according to the National Weather Service.

The SBTC DR recovery team of (from left) Jean Ducharme, Paul Wood, James Palmer, David McClung, and Tom Mathis served flood survivors near St. Louis, Mo., in mid-August. Submitted photo

On Aug. 9, the Biden administration approved Missouri’s major disaster declaration request, almost two weeks following flash flooding that swamped the St. Louis metropolitan area, damaging more than 750 homes and 130 businesses, news sources reported.

When the federal disaster declaration unlocked federal funds to assist those affected, disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and other Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams had already arrived in the Show Me State, partnering with Missouri Baptist DR to meet the needs of survivors.

“At one point, there were about 120 SBDR and other disaster relief workers onsite,” said James Palmer, SBTC DR unit leader and bi-vocational pastor of Eastside Baptist Church of Rusk. Palmer, with a team of five SBTC DR mud-out and chainsaw volunteers from the Tyler area all the way south to Del Rio, arrived in Bridgeton, a suburb of St. Louis, on Aug. 7. They were housed at the Fee Fee Baptist Church in Bridgeton and began work on Aug. 8 before departing for home on Aug. 13.

The five-man team tackled four massive jobs, said Palmer, who also works part-time for the bridge and road department of Cherokee County.

Even getting to Bridgeton proved challenging, Palmer said. One SBTC DR group with two crew members pulled the recovery trailer stored by the Dogwood Trails Baptist Association while he and two others rode in a separate vehicle. That pickup’s GPS took Palmer and his co-workers on some unexpected short detours, he said. One such side trip delayed them slightly, but after making a U-turn and backtracking down the road, they witnessed a bad accident that had only recently occurred.

“Had we not taken that little detour, we might have been in the wreck,” Palmer mused. “God provides.”

God definitely provided a congenial team with which to work, Palmer said, noting the camaraderie of the SBTC DR volunteers and volunteers from the other Baptist groups, including Missouri.

Seeds planted

The work was intense. At one home, where the basement had filled with 40 inches of water, crew members spent an exhausting day-and-a-half hauling up hundreds of items, only some of which were salvageable. At another home, a tree had fallen through the back three bedrooms, knocking down ceilings. Not only had water flooded the bedroom but also the basement. That job took two days.

There were opportunities to share the Gospel and pray with survivors, Palmer said. Some expressed interest. Others, like a man who made a call on his cell phone rather than joining the group to pray, did not. One survivor, a Jehovah’s Witness follower, chided Palmer for praying in the name of Jesus.

“I spent some time trying to communicate the Gospel to him,” Palmer said. “I hope a seed was planted.”

In fact, the team leader added, the Gospel was planted in the locations served.

“We’ll see what the Lord does next,” he said. “It was a blessing to go and help.”

An added benefit, Palmer said, was that he noted some ways that the homeowners might have been better prepared for disaster, calling it a learning experience for himself and his church.

SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice confirmed that two additional teams are scheduled to deploy to Missouri to continue to help with recovery efforts this week.

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