By Diana Chandler
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) will consider constitution and bylaw changes at its annual meeting June 9-10 in Birmingham, Alabama, designed to comply with a study team report unanimously adopted in 2018.
The sweeping report, which led to the new name of associational mission strategist instead of director of missions, also recommended that the SBCAL increase its advocacy of the role of associational leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention.
The proposed changes to be presented and voted on June 9 are among several responses to the study team report, said SBCAL Executive Director Ray Gentry.
“Proposed changes to enable [increased advocacy] to happen include updating the purpose to ‘equip, encourage, and network with associational leaders,’ giving SBC seminaries the option to be represented on the executive team, changing the title of the Conference Planning Team to the more accurate Administrative Team, and simplifying and streamlining our structure and nomenclature,” Gentry told Baptist Press.
Already well received is the new descriptor of associational mission strategist, which is recommended but not required for Southern Baptist associations across the nation.
“The new descriptor, Associational Mission Strategist, is being well received across the country, especially among younger leaders,” Gentry told BP. “As with any change, you have early adopters, middle adopters, and late adopters. We are encouraged to see so many embrace this new descriptor already.”
The 2019 meeting will bring the purpose of the new descriptor into greater focus, Gentry said, encouraging attendance.
“The 2019 SBCAL Annual Conference is designed to strengthen the work of Associational Mission Strategists by sharing why the new descriptor was chosen,” Gentry said, “by providing training and encouragement to be on mission strategically, whether in a rural or a metro context, and through abundant networking opportunities to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron.”
Themed “Associational Mission Strategists: Defining Terms, Providing Tools,” the SBCAL will meet at the Hilton Birmingham at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 808 20th St. S., with June 9 sessions from 9:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m., and June 10 sessions from 8:45 a.m.–11:20 a.m. Worship, workshops, plenary sessions, a ministry fair, and meals are scheduled, with additional workshops and sessions designed for wives.
Speakers include SBC President J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area; Johnny Hunt, vice president for evangelism and leadership, North American Mission Board; Robert Smith, Beeson professor of preaching at Samford University in Birmingham; Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, and Sandra Wisdom-Martin, Woman’s Missionary Union executive director.
A pre-conference for prospective and new associational leaders June 8 from 6:30–9 p.m. will include presentations and a roundtable specifically tailored to those who’ve been on the job no more than two years, and others interested in the post.
Joining Gentry as speakers at the pre-conference are David Stokes, executive director of the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists, and Steve Laughman, an associational mission strategist with the Centennial Association of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Registration is $25; spouses may attend at no cost.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.