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TRUSTEES: IMB trustees pray
for next president, discuss balanced budget

TAMPA, Fla. (BP)–The International Mission Board is still searching for “God’s man” to fill the board’s presidency, trustee chairman Jimmy Pritchard said during the trustees’ Sept. 14-15 meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Fifty-one new missionaries also were appointed and efforts to balance the 2011 budget were discussed.

The meeting was held just short of the first anniversary of the board meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., when Jerry Rankin announced plans to retire after 17 years as IMB president. Rankin stepped down July 31. IMB trustees appointed executive vice president Clyde Meador interim president when Rankin retired.

“This is the most crucial position that a man can hold on the face of the planet,” said Pritchard, who also leads the 15-member presidential search committee. “And because of that, [choosing a new president] shouldn’t be easy.

“Our pledge to you is that when we do … stand before you … [to present our presidential nominee], we’re going to have full confidence that we’re presenting God’s man,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas, thanked trustees for their patience and prayers as the search committee continues its work.

“We have 5,000-plus missionaries praying for us … we have people all over the Southern Baptist Convention praying for us, and we have a great [search] committee who love God and love one another,” Pritchard said. “We’re working together. We have one purpose and that is to find God’s man. Are we there yet? No. But by God’s grace we’re going to get there.”

In other business, trustees received a draft of the IMB’s 2011 budget, which financial chief David Steverson said leadership is still working to balance.

“You will recall that we used $7.5 million from our contingency reserve to balance the 2010 budget. We simply cannot afford to do that again,” Steverson said. He expressed gratitude for an increase in the 2009 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but lamented declines in both investment revenue and Cooperative Program giving, the latter of which is down at least 4 percent this year.

Pritchard said the problem isn’t financial, but spiritual.

“How sad it is when we have people who want to go but we can’t afford to send them,” Pritchard said. “The issue is not that we [Southern Baptists] can’t afford it, but that we just don’t want to foot the bill…. What will solve our problem is a good dose of spiritual awakening in our churches.”

Bryant Wright, Southern Baptist Convention president and pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., spoke to trustees about the rise and fall of history’s great empires — from the Egyptians to the United States — comparing their relatively short-lived earthly reign with the eternity that is the kingdom of God.

“What is the Kingdom of God? … It is wherever Jesus reigns. If Christ reigns in your life, the Kingdom of God is there. If Christ reigns in your family, the Kingdom of God is there,” Wright said. “I hope Southern Baptists are going to return to Christ as their first love…. The fact is that the Kingdom of God is not going to come here on earth … until the church has completed its mission.”

Trustees concluded the Tampa meeting with the Sept. 15 appointment of 51 new long-term missionaries during an evening service at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla. The appointments bring the number of IMB missionaries serving around the world to 5,201.

The next trustee meeting will be Nov. 9-10 in Greensboro, N.C. Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., will host a missionary appointment service Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Don Graham is a writer for the International Mission Board.

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