Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Committee members listen to the executive director’s report Dec. 10 at the Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
Monroe pastor Fountain elected chairman while Fayetteville’s Saefkow elected vice-chair
DULUTH — Georgia Baptist Executive Committee members heard a positive report on Cooperative Program giving, an announcement for listening sessions focused on wellness, and elected a new chairman and vice-chairman at their quarterly meeting Dec. 10 at the Missions and Ministry Center.
Monroe pastor Tommy Fountain will serve as chairman while Fayetteville’s Josh Safekow was elected vice-chairman, both by proclamation.
Chief Financial Officer Toby Howell reported that Cooperative Program giving was ahead in both the Year to Date category as well as the month of December.
As of Dec. 9, CP giving exceeded last year by $296,926.46, or .84%. For December that margin grew to 1.42%, or $21,402.68. “We expect December to be a good month,” he added.
Howell also updated the group on the impromptu offering taken up on behalf of Mission Georgia at the recent annual meeting. That amount – first reported in The Index at $6,047.57 – was divided into checks of $1,512 toward each individual and/or couple who appeared on stage with Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. during the Mission Georgia presentation on Nov. 12.
Teams meet for discussion, Listening Sessions to address wellness
The morning began with an opening session that included a devotion from Safekow based out of Isaiah 9. Members then approved the day’s order of business and as well as the minutes from November’s meetings before hearing reports from entities.
Following a greeting from GBC President Robby Foster, EC members dismissed to Team meetings throughout the building. Those groups included discussions with Mission Board lead strategists and their respective Teams – Georgia Baptist Women, Pastor Wellness, Church Strengthening, Research & Development, and Strategic Church Planting. Other groups talked in more detail about the five key aspects of Church Strengthening – evangelism, missions, discipleship, reaching the next generation, and music and worship.
In other business, EC members were introduced to new Georgia Baptist Convention staff and heard plans for a series of listening sessions regarding wellness for pastors in 2020.
Those listening sessions will mirror the well-received ones led last year by Hammond. This time, however, they will specifically address pastors’ health among several areas including physical, mental, spiritual, and relational. In October, McDonough pastor Tim Dowdy was named lead strategist for Pastor Wellness, a subject Hammond has addressed repeatedly since becoming executive director.
“Please take advantage of those,” Hammond encouraged the room. “I’d love for everyone on the Executive Committee to come to at least one.”
Dates and times for the Pastor Wellness Listening Tour are as follows:
East Central Region – Jan. 29.
10 a.m. Turning Point Mable White in Macon
2 p.m. First Baptist Thomson
West Central Region – Feb. 26
10 a.m. SonRise Baptist in Newman
2 p.m. Peace Baptist in Decatur
Southeast Region – March 2
10 a.m. Emmanuel Baptist in Blackshear
2 p.m. First Baptist Richmond Hill
Northwest Region – March 4
10 a.m. Salem Baptist in Dalton
2 p.m. First Baptist Woodstock
Southwest Region – March 19
10 a.m. First Baptist Leesburg
2 p.m. First Baptist Thomasville
Northeast Region – March 23
10 a.m. First Baptist Helen
2 p.m. Prince Avenue in Athens
New staff introduced, two retirees honored
Recently-added staff included several familiar faces. Mike Griffin, Hammond said, would be moving to a full-time position as Public Affairs representative. Griffin will continue as a voice on behalf of Georgia Baptists at the state capitol in Atlanta. But in addition, he will also serve as a resource to churches in strengthening their knowledge on issues related to religious liberty and child protection.
Other staff additions included JJ Washington, Missions consultant in the West Central Region, Bucky Kennedy, who recently accepted the position of BCM director at Truett-McConnell College, and Mary Cox, who will move to a full-time position regarding wellness for pastors’ wives.
Hammond gave a brief update on two key positions still unfilled, though candidates are being interviewed. Those positions are catalyst for Next Gen, which is part of the Church Strengthening team, and lead strategist for Strategic Church Planting.
Two retirees were honored for their service. Delos Sharpton was presented with a plaque for his 20 years as president of Baptist Village Retirement Communities, 15 of those as CEO. In its 61-year history, Sharpton is only the third individual to serve as the organization’s president.
Also honored was Larry Wynn, who retires at the end of the year as Georgia Baptist Mission Board assistant executive director.
“Larry has been a friend to Georgia Baptist pastors – and really, a friend to Southern Baptist pastors,” said Hammond. “But also, he has been a mentor. … When Larry talks to a pastor, he always encourages them, always blesses them.”
The next Executive Committee meeting will be held March 10 at Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.