New IMB trustee Cory Gonyo prays during the board of trustees’ plenary session Sept. 26 near Richmond, Va. CHRIS CARTER/IMB
By Julie McGowan
IMB trustees appoint 24 new missionaries, approve balanced budget
RICHMOND, V.A. – International Mission Board trustees approved the appointment of 24 new full-time, fully funded personnel to take the Gospel to unreached people and places during their Sept. 25-26 meeting near Richmond, Virginia.
The meeting also included the approval of a balanced budget for 2019-20; an update on an external report regarding IMB’s prevention and response to abuse and harassment; and orientation for 23 new trustees. Seth Polk, trustee chairman and senior pastor of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, W.V., presided over the meeting.
The 24 new missionaries were appointed during a special Sending Celebration, which recognized both the new personnel and the churches sending them to take the Gospel to the nations. The celebration, hosted by Swift Creek Baptist Church in Midlothian, Virginia, featured testimonies from each of the appointees. Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, gave the new missionaries a scriptural charge, and he brought greetings to the trustees during the plenary session.
Trustees recognized the service of missionary LaVerne Brown, who died Sept. 12, 2019, at age 48. Brown had shared the Gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Africa and Europe since 2003.
They also recognized the service of fellow trustee John Gray, a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, who died Aug. 23, 2019, at age 76. Gray served on the board of trustees since 2016.
The week included orientation for 23 new trustees elected in June during the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham.
Among the new IMB trustees is Georgia’s Kevin Williams. Williams serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Villa Rica. He has served in the ministry for over 22 years and is also a U.S. Army veteran and served during Desert Storm. Kevin earned several ministry degrees: A.A. from Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, B.S. in Religion from Liberty University, M.A.R and M.Div. degrees from Liberty University Theological Seminary, and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in evangelism, missions, and church growth.
Kevin and his wife Patrice have four children, Austin, Zack, Grace, and Hope, two daughters-in-law Anna and Laura, one grandchild Ava. Kevin is passionate about obeying God’s Word in sharing Jesus with the world and leading others to grow in their faith. He and his church have helped plant 12 churches in Guatemala and he leads pastor conferences in Guatemala, Egypt, and Argentina.
Other new IMB trustees include Tim Amert – Rochester, Minnesota; Jim Barnhart – Sikeston, Missouri; Marshall Blalock – Charleston, South Carolina; Daniel Brubeck – Cheyenne, Wyoming; Jim Cooley – Birmingham, Alabama; Sarah Davenport– Raleigh, North Carolina; Wes George – Rogers, Arkansas; Cory Gonyo – Bettendorf, Iowa; Sam Greer – Chattanooga, Tennessee; John Hinze – Tucumcari, New Mexico; Tom Hoffman – Wasilla, Alaska; Jeff Holeman – Oxford, Missisippi; and Daniel Lambert – Kalispell, Montana.
New trustees also include Adam Madden – Salt Lake City, Utah; Charlotte Madison – Huntsville, Alabama; Chris Martin – Honolulu, Hawaii; Lee McCarty – Lake, Mississippi; Jonathan Newkirk – Paola, Kansas; Bruce Roach – Minot, North Dakota; Glenn Steen – Lancaster, South Carolina; Tommy Turner – Paris, Texas; and Vernon Wittenbach – Newark, Delaware.
“Knowing that our board now has representatives from each of our 41 state conventions is an encouragement not only to states like Alaska and Hawaii and Iowa and Utah, that for the past several years had no representation, it encourages all of us at the IMB to know we have you, our board members, as a direct channel of relationship, communication, and accountability to all of our SBC churches,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said.
In his plenary address, IMB President Paul Chitwood reported he has spent significant time in recent weeks meeting with the board’s Affinity Group Leaders (AGLs) from around the world.
“These couples represent a good blend of seasoned veterans and new, energetic leaders,” Chitwood said. “They are also incredibly gifted missiologists, highly effective administrators, and deeply passionate soul winners. They are leading their teams to meet the challenges of urbanization and globalization head on. And they have not lost courage even in the face of staggering lostness, growing persecution or dwindling resources.”
“I’ve been especially pleased to see how they have embraced the growing need of every member of the IMB family, including our field missionaries, to do all that we can to help mobilize Southern Baptists to pray, give, go, and send,” he said. “These leaders know best of all the unprecedented opportunities that are before us around the world, opportunities that will require more laborers for the harvest.”
Chitwood said that over the past 10 months, he has met with approximately 2,300 of IMB’s overseas personnel and more than 1,600 of their missionary kids.
“I can tell you that the Affinity Leaders represent the spirit of all 3,700 of your missionaries who carry the banner of Christ among the nations where, for 174 uninterrupted years, Southern Baptists have had witness,” he said.
A call to churches
“As we celebrate these victories, we are mindful that the only thing that prevents an even greater harvest is lack of more laborers in the Lord’s fields,” Chitwood said, noting IMB’s senior leaders have set a goal of growing the Southern Baptist international missionary force by 500 new missionaries by 2025. “That would take our total headcount to 4,200, which we believe is the minimum number of missionaries we need to make the maximum impact.
“The vision of a great, innumerable multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb demands more of each of us and of every Southern Baptist,” he said.
“I believe we have a significant opportunity to engage the 23,000 Southern Baptist churches that last year gave nothing to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® while we say a heart-felt thank you to the 21,000 churches that did give. And we plan to do both,” he said, offering gratitude for those who faithfully give sacrificially.
Chitwood and Rodney Freeman, vice president of support services and IMB treasurer, introduced the 2019-20 proposed budget, balanced with receipts and expenses both projected at $267.4 million.
“We must prioritize re-connecting with Southern Baptists,” Chitwood told trustees. “A look back over the last decade of LMCO receipts reveals that 10 percent fewer churches contributed in the past five years than in the five years prior.”
“Should that trend continue over the next decade, our future as a sending organization is bleak,” he said, noting an investment in reconnecting with Southern Baptists is “an investment at home with returns that will bless the nations.” He added that IMB also must prioritize mobilizing Southern Baptists to pray, give, go, and send to the nations.
In May, the board received recommendations from Gray Plant Mooty concerning the IMB’s handling of past matters and current policies and practices related to the prevention of and response to allegations of child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault). Chitwood reported to trustees that GPM’s work has continued in conjunction with senior leadership and a trustee officer.
“Let me assure you, as I stated in May, that IMB absolutely remains committed to making changes necessary to better prevent instances of child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault), and to do all we can to better care for victims while holding perpetrators accountable,” he said.
Chitwood said IMB leadership is methodically implementing every recommendation presented by Gray Plant Mooty, diligently moving toward the highest standards in abuse prevention and response, including providing compassionate care.
Chitwood reported that IMB continues to work closely with GPM to implement the recommendations they have provided and values their independent expertise. Since providing an update in May, GPM has continued their examination, including reviewing individual past cases involving allegations of child abuse or sexual harassment and determining whether any additional actions are needed in regard to those individual matters. In addition, GPM has informed IMB that they do not have any additional recommendations for changes to IMB’s current policies and practices to share at this time.
IMB encourages anyone who has been a victim of abuse by IMB personnel to report it to authorities. In addition, IMB invites any victims to contact us on a confidential hotline at (866) 292-0181 or email email@example.com so we can provide compassionate care to that victim and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of others.
IMB is committed to providing accurate, informed references on every former IMB employee. We strongly encourage any church, entity, or other employer who is considering working or partnering with a former IMB personnel to contact IMB to obtain a reference on that individual. Email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can do our part to help you make wise and informed hiring decisions.
The official launch date for the 2019-20 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is Oct. 1. For more information, go to IMB.org/LMCO to find new resources for your church’s mission offering.
The next Sending Celebration for new IMB missionaries will be conducted Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Quail Springs Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
The next IMB Board of Trustees meeting is slated for Jan. 29-30, 2020, in Riverside, Calif.
Read the IMB’s article on the commissioning service here.
Julie McGowan is public relations director of the IMB.