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WRAP-UP: Crews elected NW’s director

YAKIMA, Wash. (BP)–Messengers to the Northwest Baptist Convention elected Bill Crews, former president and chancellor of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, as executive director during their Nov. 13-14 annual meeting at the convention center in Yakima, Wash.

Crews, 71, had been serving as the convention’s interim executive director since April 1. A search committee recommended Crews to the convention’s executive board, and the board voted to place the recommendation before the messengers.

In presenting Crews as the candidate on behalf of the board, Washington pastor Joe Martin called Crews the “youngest mature man I know,” a reference to Crews’ energy and creative thinking even after more than 50 years in ministry.

Convention messengers approved Crews as the new leader on a ballot vote with no discussion.

“It would be an understatement to say I am humbled by what you have done,” Crews told messengers after results of the 262-12 vote were announced. “But I have a confidence that we have a journey to take together over the next several years that we cannot do alone.”

Crews, along with various speakers at the meeting, pointed to the need for spiritual renewal and fresh vision across the convention.

Stepping into the post after two years of strained convention relationships following disagreements over the leadership style of the previous executive director, Gus Suárez, who resigned earlier in the spring, Crews said healing has already started. He credited much of the progress to local church leaders in the Northwest.

“It appears to me God has used all of us to begin restoring that sense of confidence and trust that we need,” Crews said. “I am confident God is going to give us all the wisdom, direction and courage we need to pursue the mission He gave us 60 years ago [when the convention formed] to reach the Northwest and the world for Jesus Christ.”

Although the Northwest convention faces the need for crucial change, Crews called it an opportunity to see God at work.

“I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity that God is going to do what only God can do,” Crews said. “I would hope when we gather [at next year’s convention in Portland] that it would be more than a business meeting but a time of rejoicing over what God has done.”

Crews served as a pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Seattle from 1967-72 and Metropolitan Baptist Church in Portland from 1972-77. He was president of the Northwest convention from 1975-76 and served as director of communications and editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness from 1977-78.

He left the Northwest in 1978 to serve as pastor of the 2,300-member Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church in Riverside, Calif., and then served as president of Golden Gate Seminary from 1986-2003 and as chancellor for an additional two years.

Returning to the Northwest in 2004 with their son, Ron, Crews and his wife Jo Ann live in Camas, Wash., near Vancouver.

Crews earned a bachelor of arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry from Golden Gate.

In other business, Keith Evans, senior pastor of Greater Gresham (Ore.) Baptist Church, was elected president in a five-way race. Messengers also elected Tim Foster, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in The Dalles, Ore., first vice president, and Eric Sarensen, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lakeview, Ore., second vice president.

Convention participants heard repeated calls for change in ministry priorities and methods to reverse a 20-year decline in key ministry trends across the Northwest Baptist Convention.

“There is too much at stake to live in the past,” Crews said. “I was shocked to learn that every church in our convention could triple in size and we would have touched only 1 percent of the population. Business as usual won’t get the job done.”

Crews highlighted goals for increases in baptisms, worship attendance and other ministry endeavors that he will help Northwest Baptists pursue.

“Whatever gifts and talents I have, I want to devote to helping our churches get back on track,” Crews pledged.

Messengers approved a .25 percent increase in Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to national and international missions and ministries, bringing the total to 25.25 percent, or $808,000 of the anticipated $3.2 million in Cooperative Program gifts from churches. They also approved a record $5.7 million overall budget for 2008, reflecting a nearly 7 percent increase over the current year’s CP giving projections.

Funding remained at 7 percent of the Cooperative Program budget for shared funding of the Pacific Northwest Campus of Golden Gate Seminary, for a projected total of $224,000.

One resolution expressed support for the United States military and others who are defending the nation against the threat of terrorism. Another resolution encouraged people to pray for political leaders, while another urged citizens to vote.

Messengers also passed a resolution asking church members to participate in the Northwest convention’s Jericho evangelistic outreach in the Mt. Baker Baptist Association next year and one exhorting believers to “follow the Lordship of Jesus Christ in guiding our churches in whatever divine way we are led in the mission that lies ahead by encouraging, supporting and holding each other accountable as partners in the work his kingdom.”

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 11-12 in Portland, Ore.
Cameron Crabtree is editor and Sheila Allen is managing editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention.

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