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Willard Zeiser named acting Missouri executive director

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–Willard Zeiser, program coordinator for the Missouri Baptist Convention for the past 15 years, will assume the role of acting executive director upon the retirement of Donald V. Wideman Aug. 31.
The Missouri Baptist Convention executive board unanimously elected Zeiser at its July meeting.
Wideman announced his retirement date a year ago during the executive board’s July 1996 meeting. At the time, Wideman suggested a search committee might be able to propose a successor by the July 14-15 meeting this year.
But search committee chairman Dalton Ham told executive board members the committee does not yet have a candidate to recommend. “We’re not there yet, pure and simple,” Ham said.
Ham said the committee has met frequently and has interviewed potential candidates, some of them by telephone. “If it’s necessary to ask the president to call a special meeting (to present the committee’s selection), we’ll do that,” he said.
The board went into executive session to consider the matter of an acting executive director. When the board emerged from the closed session, executive board chairman Arthur Mallory invited the Baptist Building staff to the meeting to announce the action.
“The executive board has the duty and the responsibility to deal with the issue of transition,” Mallory said. “Yesterday, the administrative committee, under the good guidance of (chairman) John Elder, dealt with this issue and brought a recommendation to the executive board this morning.
“We were unanimous that we want to ask Willard Zeiser at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of September to pick up the key on the front steps and to assume the acting responsibilities for the executive directorship of the Missouri Baptist Convention. I hope you will feel as good about this as the executive board does.”
After inviting Zeiser to stand before the board and staff, Mallory asked everyone to link hands around the room while Wideman prayed for Zeiser and the staff during the transition.
As program coordinator, Zeiser is the staff adviser to the executive director and liaison between Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist agencies and institutions. He also coordinates the Belarus and Wyoming missions partnerships, convention calendar, annual meeting and special reports and committees.
Prior to joining the MBC staff in January 1982, Zeiser was associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City; minister of education/administration, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, and Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, Ark.; and youth minister for churches in Abilene, Fort Worth, Midland and San Angelo, Texas.
Zeiser and his wife, Juel, have two grown children. They are members of First Baptist, Jefferson City.

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