DULUTH — A two-fold resolve to strengthen churches and encourage pastors included steps that affected 20 state missionary positions at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, Vice President of Operations Kevin Smith confirmed today.
Calling those moves a “very difficult decision,” Smith noted the reality the Mission Board faced regarding several factors.
Those factors include declining Cooperative Program giving, reassessing GBMB priorities, and consolidation of positions toward greater efficiency, according to the Office of the Executive Director.
“This decision was made only after months of intense prayer, study, and discussion among the leadership team regarding the Lord’s will for the future of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board,” Smith said. “The GBMB finds itself in challenging times, and in our attempt to be the stewards we believe the Lord would have us to be, difficult decisions have to be made.”
A nearly $1.2 million drop in Cooperative Program giving in 2018 from the previous year underscored the need for change, said Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr. “We’re committed to making the Georgia Baptist Mission Board the best resource our pastors could ask for,” he stated. “Part of that will include streamlining some ministries and evaluating all of the activities of the Mission Board.”
Hammond is currently traveling across the state spending time hearing from pastors in a series of listening sessions. The first, held yesterday at First Baptist Church in Lyons, brought 66 pastors to the discussion.
Since assuming his position Jan. 1, pastoral health and strengthening churches have remained Hammond’s focus. In turn, he maintains, Georgia Baptists will be better able to reach their community, state, country, and world with the Gospel.
In a called staff meeting this morning Hammond expressed sadness for the staff members affected and led in a prayer for them.
“These decisions are hard, and we know that the transition will present new challenges for everyone involved,” he said later. “We have done our best to treat departing employees with grace, respect, and dignity. We’ll continue to pray for them in the days ahead.”