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SBC leader Ernest Mosley dies at 81

GASTONIA, N.C. (BP)–Ernest Mosley, whose ministry spanned 65 years, stretching from local churches to leadership roles in the Southern Baptist Convention, died Wednesday, July 8. He was 81.

He was diagnosed with cancer last fall and had been under home hospice care. He died at Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, N.C., where he was admitted July 3.

Mosley was executive vice president of the SBC Executive Committee from 1987 until his retirement in 1998; executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association from 1980-87; and pastoral section supervisor at the former Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) during 13 years on staff at the SBC entity.

He was president of the Hawaii Baptist Convention in 1966-67 and was a pastor, assistant pastor or minister of education of churches in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Hawaii.

“One of Dad’s final lessons to us,” his daughter Melody Morris told Baptist Press, “was that while he had served the Lord for many years, he was able to allow himself to be served by those taking care of him in his last days. He really taught us a lot about how to die with dignity.”

His daughter Jan Hill wrote on a website Wednesday morning, at 5:10 a.m., “Dad is no longer held back by a body riddled with disease. He has met his Final Goal — Praising The Lord and Giving God all the Glory!”

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said Southern Baptists have lost “an outstanding servant of Christ and denominational statesman. Jodi and I have lost a dear friend but thankfully we will see him in heaven.

“Ernest Mosley gave of himself through a lifetime of service as a pastor, author, editor and denominational leader. He also gave of himself as a faithful husband, father and grandfather,” Chapman said.

“Ernest received Jesus as his Lord while a lad. He began preaching at age 16 and never stopped until the Lord called him home to glory early Wednesday morning,” Chapman recounted. “When I began my service as president of the Executive Committee in 1992, Ernest was already a seasoned veteran of denominational work and was an invaluable colleague in ministry. He delayed his retirement in order to assist the Southern Baptist Convention in its largest restructure in history, the Covenant for a New Century.”

Chapman added that Mosley, as editor of the former Baptist Program periodical published by the Executive Committee, “endeared himself to the broader Southern Baptist family…. Through his gentle spirit and lighthearted manner, he fostered openness, trust, respect and cooperation during a tumultuous period in Baptist life. He was truly a giant of a man, a genuine man of God.

“We extend our deepest sympathy,” Chapman said, “to his dear wife Vivian, their three daughters, Jan, Melody and Lenora, and their 10 grandchildren.”

Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, described Mosley as “a warm and caring person and a great encourager to me personally. He was a wonderful example in so many ways, but especially as an effective administrator and denominational statesman. In the final weeks and months of his life, he demonstrated a deeply mature faith and commitment to the Lord’s will that was inspiring to all who knew him. Illinois Baptists will miss him, even as we celebrate his life of service to our churches, to Southern Baptists and to the Kingdom.”

Mosley authored, coauthored or compiled eight books, two of which were translated into other languages. Among his titles: “Basics for Baptists,” “Priorities in Ministry” and “Leadership Profiles from Bible Personalities.” He also wrote numerous articles for denominational periodicals, and his biblically based solo dramas have been presented by his daughter Melody throughout the United States and in Israel, Greece and Sweden.

After his retirement, Mosley continued to minister to churches without pastors through the training of transitional pastors around the United States.

A native of Miller County, Ark., in the Texarkana area, Mosley was a graduate on Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. The seminary named Mosley as a distinguished alumnus in 1998.

Born Dec. 28, 1927, Mosley became a Christian at age 8 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Miller County, where he was ordained to the ministry in 1945. During his college and seminary years, he served as student pastor of five churches in Arkansas and Texas, beginning with Jessieville (Ark.) Baptist Church from 1945-48.

When he entered the ministry full time, he served as pastor of Kenwood Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas, from 1950-52; minister of education, First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, Ark., 1952-55; minister of education, First Baptist Church, Pine Bluff, Ark., 1955-57; and minister of education, Broadmoor Baptist Church, Shreveport, La., 1957-61.

Moving to Hawaii in 1961, he became pastor of Pali View Baptist Church in Kaneohe and was pastor of University Avenue Baptist Church in Honolulu from 1963-67.

While on staff at the Sunday School Board, where he led in developing church resources to support pastors and deacons, Mosley also served as chairman of the Nashville public schools’ Central Citizens Advisory Committee from 1978-80.

“Ministers need to see themselves, and be seen by others, as total persons whose ultimate success in any area of life is vitally related to success in other areas of life,” Mosley wrote in Priorities in Ministry. “An adequate life and work view of themselves is foundational to effectiveness in the ministry.”

Mosley and his wife Vivian moved to Gastonia, N.C., in 2003 and were active members of Parkwood Baptist Church.

In addition to his wife of 57 years and daughters Melody Morris of Thompson Station, Tenn., and Jan Hill of Greensboro, N.C., he is survived by another daughter, Lenora Crabtree of Gastonia; 10 grandchildren; and a brother Paul of Rogers, Ark.

Melody, a former International Mission Board missionary with her husband Ken to Kosovo, noted, “[D]ad’s grandchildren have served on mission teams from New Orleans to Pennsylvania to Hawaii, to Malawi, Kenya, Nigeria, Brazil, Honduras, Chile, Kosovo and other places. This is part of the Mosley legacy of service to the Lord through His church around the world.”

A celebration of life service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, July 11, at Parkwood Baptist Church, with testimonies to be shared by pastors and denominational leaders who have worked with Mosley over the years. Visitation will follow the service. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Ernest and Vivian Mosley Youth Mission Fund, c/o Community Foundation of Gaston County, P.O. Box 123, Gastonia NC 28053.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.