NAMB TRUSTEES: Ezell shares ministry center expansion plan, 5-year goals
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (BP) – North American Mission Board (NAMB) president Kevin Ezell shared a series of five-year goals, including more than doubling the entity’s number of Send Relief ministry centers throughout North America.
“Our goal,” Ezell told NAMB’s board of trustees this week, “is to add at least 13 more by 2025 so we can have 20.”
NAMB’s Send Relief ministry centers each focus on one or more area of work: poverty; refugees and internationals; foster care and adoption; human trafficking and crisis response.
The broader goals Ezell outlined for NAMB include 6,000 new Southern Baptist churches by 2025 coming from a combination of new church plants, new church affiliations and new church campuses. In addition to the ministry centers, Ezell wants to see 100,000 people engaged in Send Relief compassion ministry. In evangelism, NAMB will pursue commitments from at least 50,000 people who say they will share Christ with at least one person.
Ezell’s announcement came during NAMB’s Board of Trustees meeting in Puerto Rico as the group met February 3-4 in San Juan.
Trustees also heard reports from Send Relief missionaries who have been coordinating relief efforts for ministry on the island since earthquakes and aftershocks began rocking the southern region in late December.
In addition, they met more than a dozen church planting missionaries and their families, hearing first-hand stories of a church planting movement that is starting to spread throughout the island.
At a Monday night celebration dinner, Johnny Hunt, NAMB’s senior vice president of evangelism and leadership, updated trustees on the progress of the Who’s Your One evangelism initiative and the state-to-state tour he has embarked on to promote evangelism in churches.
During their full board meeting trustees took action on several other items:
– Trustees approved spending up to $15 million from NAMB reserves for the expansion of Send Relief ministry centers throughout North America.
– Trustees voted to receive an independent auditor’s report for fiscal year 2018-2019. The auditors gave NAMB an unqualified, clean audit, the highest rating possible.
– NAMB chief financial officer Matt Smith shared fiscal year financial details to-date, which show revenues over expenses are running $456,382 ahead of budget as of December 31, 2019.
IMB TRUSTEES: Chitwood announces five-year plan, new VPs, new missionaries
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP) – IMB president Paul Chitwood announced IMB’s five-year plan during meetings with trustees Jan. 29-30 in Riverside, Calif. IMB trustees also elected Charles Clark as vice president of mobilization and Price Jett as vice president of finance, logistics, and technology; appointed 21 new missionaries for service around the globe; and recognized 78 former IMB personnel in memoriam.
Seth Polk, who serves as IMB trustee chairman, presided over the meeting. Polk is lead pastor of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, W.V.
To “press toward the fulfillment of the Revelation 7:9 vision,” Chitwood announced five targets built around IMB’s vision and mission to engage unreached people and places over the next five years. The targets are based on the organization’s core convictions, which include proclaiming the Gospel to those who have yet to hear it.
1. Mobilize 75 percent of Southern Baptist churches to pray for and financially support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering by 2025. “With less than half of Southern Baptist churches reporting on the Annual Church Profile that they gave to the Lottie offering last year, we have lots of opportunity to grow the support needed by our missionaries,” Chitwood said.
2. Send an additional 500 fully funded missionaries by 2025. This number came to IMB leadership directly as a request from the field, Chitwood said.
3. Mobilize 500 global partner missionaries on IMB teams. While IMB will not fund these missionaries, they will be embedded on IMB teams and an essential part of IMB strategy, Chitwood said.
4. Engage 75 global cities in comprehensive strategies. Demographers project that 80 percent of the world’s population will be in the urban centers by the end of this century, Chitwood said.
5. Increase LMCO receipts 6 percent annually to sustain the 500 additional missionaries, or $10 million per year for the next five years. “While that seems like a lot of money, it will only require that every one of the 16 million Southern Baptists increase their Lottie Offering by $0.63 per year,” Chitwood said. “Dividing by the number of Southern Baptist churches, every church needs to give an additional $200 per year. No matter how you do that math, the point is, it can be done.”
– International Mission Board trustees also elected Charles Clark as vice president of mobilization and Price Jett as vice president of finance, logistics and technology. Clark most recently served with the IMB as affinity group leader for the Americas. Clark has more than 15 years’ experience with IMB.
Jett has served as chief information officer for IMB since July 2019. In this role, Jett has managed all aspects of IMB’s technology portfolio and established a global governance process for technology initiatives, as well as restructured financial arrangements with vendors to eliminate waste.
– Trustees approved the appointment of 21 new full-time, fully funded missionaries, who were honored during a Sending Celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Magnolia Church in Riverside.
– Todd Lafferty, IMB’s executive vice president, recognized the lives of 78 former colleagues – including 10 retired staff members, three current missionaries and 65 emeritus missionaries – who died in the past year. The field personnel’s lives totaled 1,780 years of service through the IMB, with an average age of 85 and an average of 26 years of service.
– Former staff who were recognized in memoriam included Don Kammerdiener, who served 39 years as a missionary to Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay, area director for Middle America and Caribbean, and executive vice president and interim president of the IMB.
– Lafferty also recognized three missionaries who died in active service. Gena Wilson, 51, served 22 years in Europe. She died of cancer May 13, 2019. LaVerne Brown, 48, served 15 years with Sub-Saharan African Peoples. She died of cancer Aug. 25, 2019. Andy Leininger, 56, served 22 years in Europe. He died of cancer Oct. 13, 2019.
– Emeritus missionaries included, among many others who served around the globe: Martha Brady, 86, who served 43 years in the Bahamas, Guyana, Belize and the Caribbean Regional Office; Emanetta Qualls, 101, who served 20 years in Brazil; and Thurman Braughton, 87, who served 28 years in the Philippines, Malaysia and Pakistan.
– In response to a motion made during the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Ala., IMB trustees also voted to recommend to the SBC “that the IMB sponsor the addition to the SBC calendar of an annual George Liele Missions and Evangelism Day, to be held on the first Sunday of February of each year,” beginning in 2021.
– Chitwood also announced the celebration of 175 years of Southern Baptist work among the nations. Recognizing that Baptist churches in the South separated from northern churches over the issue of slavery, Chitwood acknowledged that the SBC and the IMB began in sin. Chitwood invited Nate Bishop, an African American trustee from Kentucky, to share his perspective on the issue.
Bishop encouraged trustees when addressing the beginnings of the Southern Baptist Convention and the IMB “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
– Bill Agee, executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, participated in the missionary Sending Celebration and brought partnership greetings during the trustees’ plenary session.
– Chitwood also announced the selection of several new staff members, including a renewed emphasis on mobilization, a new general counsel and a newly created prevention and response administrator.
– Chitwood also announced that Richard Salamy has been named as IMB’s General Counsel and Somer Nowak will serve in the newly created role of prevention and response administrator.
– Chitwood shared the results of the annual financial audit. IMB again received an “unmodified opinion,” the highest level of assurance available. Chitwood reported that no property sales were used for operations, reserves were funded at the appropriate levels, and 100 precent of receipts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering were spent on the mission field.
The next IMB board of trustees meeting is scheduled for May 13-14 in Richmond, Va. The next missionary Sending Celebration is scheduled during the June 9-10, 2020, annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando.
TRUSTEES: WMU celebrates global mission, sets offering goals
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – From Alaska and Hawaii to Maine and Florida, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) board members and state leaders from across the U.S. gathered at national WMU in Birmingham for their biannual board meeting, Jan. 11–13.
More than 200 were in attendance, including representatives from the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) to share inspiring stories and hear updates of God at work around the world.
Gordon Fort, senior ambassador for the IMB president, thanked WMU for their support and partnership for the cause of missions before introducing his daughter, Lizzy, who served as a journeyman in Central Asia.
Lizzy shared the story of meeting Mary who told her she had dreamed about Jesus. The two became friends and began studying the book of Luke in Kurdish. However, Lizzy said Mary began to worry she would be persecuted if she accepted Christ and decided it was too risky, so she quit coming.
“I prayed for her,” Lizzy said, “and Mary came back one day and said she felt so lost. We began studying the Bible again. When we read Romans 10:9 about confessing with your mouth that you believe in Jesus, she prayed to receive Christ…. The lost need to be found.”
Andrew Kelley, who serves with his family through IMB, shared about their efforts among Rohingya refugees in South Asia. NAMB church planters JD and Andreina Fasolino shared about their Hispanic church plant in Toronto.
NAMB president Kevin Ezell thanked WMU for their partnership in helping raise a record $61.4 million in 2019 through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and shared updates related to NAMB’s Send Relief ministry centers and outreach efforts.
WMU President Linda Cooper said 2019 was a banner year for international missions efforts in WMU.
“We are a national company with a global reach,” Cooper said. “Through Pure Water, Pure Love, we provide all IMB missionaries with water filters and funded water projects in 12 different countries including Cuba, India and Liberia — providing clean drinking water for people in need and the opportunity to experience the Living Water.
“More than 1,800 impoverished artisans in 22 countries earned a sustainable wage and find real hope through WorldCrafts,” Cooper continued. “In addition to nearly 200 Christian Women’s and Men’s Job Corps sites in the United States, there are Christian Women’s Job Corps sites in Mexico, West Africa, South Africa and soon to be Thailand with IMB personnel.”
Shifting to WMU’s online leadership development opportunities, Cooper said, “Women from around the world – including Afghanistan, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine – take WMU’s Christian Women’s Leadership Center classes, and a second international student just finished all nine courses representing 150 hours of coursework.”
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of national WMU, said, “In 2019, WMU’s ministries touched countries from A-Z – from Afghanistan to Zambia – 39 different countries! When you include ministry partners here at 100 Missionary Ridge [the address of WMU’s building], the number of countries touched moves from 39 to 65. And then factor in what each of you are doing in your states – it’s astonishing. The breadth and scope of global Kingdom impact is stunning and beautiful and humbling.”
Cooper and Wisdom-Martin continued to recap some the year’s highlights, including:
– Milestones marking decades of changed lives: Mexico WMU and Nigeria WMU both celebrated 100 years. Taiwan WMU celebrated 60 years, and Brazil celebrated 70 years of Royal Ambassadors.
– Following an 18-month collaborative process that included three national WMU staff members traveling to South Korea, WMU signed an historic agreement with Korean nationals on the campus of IMB’s International Learning Center. Koreans will have the rights to WMU’s chronological Bible storying resource, Tell the Story: Bible Storying for Kids, to sell in Korea. In exchange, Korea Baptists will translate Tell the Story into Korean and gift the translation to WMU.
– After leading Korean WMU for 30 years, Angela Kim passed the mantle of leadership to Joy Lee.
– WorldCrafts welcomed four new U.S.-based artisan groups: Refugee Sewing Society in Clarkston, Ga.; Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans; Christian Women’s Job Corps of Monroe, La.; and Christian Women’s Job Corps of Madison County, Ala.
– National WMU staff members participated in numerous podcasts, panel discussions and task force meetings with various Southern Baptist agencies and entities to discuss strategies to address the needs of refugees and displaced people.
– In addition to encouraging ongoing support of Southern Baptist missionaries through prayer and giving to the missions offerings, WMU maintains a database of approximately 650 available housing options for international missions personnel while on stateside assignment, partners with IMB to host an annual MK [missionary kid] Re-Entry retreat and awards a host of scholarships. WMU also partners each year with NAMB to promote Christmas in August in which WMU missions groups gather, pack and send needed supplies to North American missionaries.
Executive session and bonus opportunities
Meeting in executive session on Saturday evening, the executive board heard reports from standing committees and an assessment from a consulting company that outlined a plan and expenses for replacing the 36-year-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with original controls in the WMU building.
In other business, the executive board approved the 2020 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal be set at $175,000,000 and the 2021 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goal be set at $70,000,000.
On Saturday, 26 different conferences covered a variety of topics such as developing leaders, missions discipleship by age level, Hispanic and Korean WMU, WorldCrafts, Christian Women’s and Men’s Job Corps, and a panel discussion with church planters and pastors.
On Saturday and Sunday evenings, participants had an opportunity to go through a U.S.-based refugee simulation and provide feedback on this new resource that will be available for online purchase at wmustore.com this spring. Displaced: Seeking Home is a one-hour simulation designed for students and adults that provides a glimpse into some of the difficult decisions and struggles refugees and displaced people in the United States experience as they go through the resettlement process. Participants live out real-life scenarios such as school registration, finding a job and working with a resettlement agency.
Other optional activities over the weekend included audio tours of the WMU building and historical artifacts, an interactive prayer experience, and screen printing bags or T-shirts in honor of the 50th birthday of Acteens and to promote Blume. Acteens is WMU’s missions education program for teen girls. Blume is a missional event for girls sponsored by WMU that will take place this summer at Germantown Baptist Church near Memphis July 8–11.
WMU’s next board meeting will be June 6–7 in Orlando.
LIFEWAY TRUSTEES: Mandrell announces renewed mission and focus
NASHVILLE (BP) – LifeWay Christian Resources CEO Ben Mandrell unveiled to trustees a new organizational structure and mission statement to align the organization for future ministry and growth.
LifeWay experienced a successful transition in closing its brick-and-mortar retail chain in 2019 and saw significant growth in its direct sales channels, Mandrell reported to trustees during their biannual board meeting, Feb. 3-4 in Nashville.
“We knew it would take us some time to recover from the store closures, but we are rebounding faster than we expected,” Mandrell said. “It’s early, of course, but we are pleased with where we are after the first quarter.”
Sales through LifeWay.com are showing increases of more than 25 percent over last year, Mandrell noted. “Since LifeWay.com is our most popular channel, we want our online store to be intuitive, smart and streamlined. We have a team of talented employees working diligently to enhance that experience.”
In addition to its e-commerce site, LifeWay continues to engage customers through its Customer Service Center, a network of church partners, and partnerships with independent Christian bookstores and other retailers, Mandrell said. Through its Authorized Dealer Program, LifeWay is now showcasing products in 459 locations across 46 states. “We’re finding new shelf space to allow customers to touch and feel our products before they buy them.”
In addition to independent bookstores, LifeWay is also partnering with local churches that wish to carry an assortment of LifeWay resources, Mandrell reported. “Together, we’ve extended our ministry reach into more than 90 new markets– regions where LifeWay never had a brick-and-mortar storefront.”
Mandrell reminded trustees, “LifeWay is far more than a chain of brick-and-mortar stores. In the past year, LifeWay served more than 75,000 churches around the globe through our resources, events and services.”
Refocusing the mission
Reflecting on the past year, Mandrell said he is reminded how the Lord has provided and sustained LifeWay through a difficult season.
Mandrell then revealed LifeWay’s new mission statement – “We exist to honor God and serve churches by designing trustworthy experiences that fuel ministry.”
He reminded trustees of LifeWay’s creation story, how the founding president James M. Frost cast a vision for an organization that would fuel the ministry of local churches by creating doctrinally sound, easy to use materials.
Mandrell explained that the mission statement is intended “to help us recalibrate our culture and set a compass for our future.” He also said LifeWay is engaged in a rebranding process and plans to unveil a new logo and brand promise in the coming months.
Mandrell announced the creation of three new teams, which previously made up the Resources Division – Church Ministries, Publishing, and Sales & Business Management – as well as a newly formed Theology & Communications team.
Mandrell described the new structure of LifeWay as a team of teams. “Shifting to nimble, focused ministry teams will help us move quicker in a fast-paced market,” Mandrell said. “This structure will be a tremendous asset in keeping up with changes in the market and culture.”
Trustees elected Michael Kelley, senior vice president of Church Ministries; Bill Craig, senior vice president of Publishing; and Trevin Wax, senior vice president of Theology & Communications.
Kelley, Craig, and Wax will join the current executive leadership team comprised of Connia Nelson, chief human resources officer; Joe Walker, chief financial officer; Charmaine George, interim chief information technology officer (CITO); Chris Knight, LifeWay’s general counsel, who was elected as senior vice president and chief legal officer; and Earl Roberson, acting senior vice president of the Resources Division, who was elected senior vice president of Sales & Business Management.
Mandrell announced that LifeWay had extended an offer to a candidate for CITO and that she had accepted. “We look forward to sharing more details about our new IT leader soon,” Mandrell said. He thanked Charmaine George, acting CITO, for her excellent leadership of the LifeWay IT team during the interim period.
Mandrell also recognized Brad Waggoner, who is moving roles from chief operating officer to executive advisory officer, and Faith Whatley, director of Author and Strategic Partnerships for their continued strategic leadership.
During Tuesday’s plenary session, CFO Joe Walker gave a financial update on the organization. Walker reported that LifeWay exceeded its first quarter revenue budget of $56 million by $600,000 or 1 percent.
Roberson, senior vice president of Sales & Business Management, reported that the core of the business is still strong, with ongoing curriculum – primarily Explore the Bible, The Gospel Project and Bible Studies for Life – seeing its seventh consecutive year of growth.
During the two-day meeting, trustees also heard a report from LifeWay leaders on the shifts in Americans’ attitudes toward faith and the church and how LifeWay is responding to help church leaders navigate these changes.
During their meeting, trustees amended LifeWay bylaws to reflect current practices, which included changing the title of vice president to senior vice president and changing the compensation committee from a special committee to a standing committee.
LifeWay trustees also discussed and approved responses to two motions referred to LifeWay by the Southern Baptist Convention during the 2019 annual meeting. The responses, regarding the inclusion of Gospel presentations in all children’s curriculum and the request for each SBC entity to provide an update on addressing abuse, will be reported to messengers at the 2020 SBC meeting, June 9-10, in Orlando.
The board also recognized four trustees who are ending their board service in June: Kent Dacus of Riverside, Calif.; Bob Simpson, Odenton, Md.; Millie Burkett, Vancouver, Wash.; and Michael Osborne, Colonial Heights, Va.