The SBTC Executive Board, meeting Aug. 12 at the SBTC offices in Grapevine, elected three ministry staff members to fill positions vacated recently, heard reflections from the executive director on 10 years of serving the convention, and honored outgoing board members for their decade-long service.
The board elected Mike Smith, currently director of missions in Dogwood Trails Baptist Area, to be director of the SBTC’s Minister-Church Relations department; Kenneth Priest, project manager at Christian publisher Auxano Press in Nashville, Tenn., as a associate in the Church Ministries department; and David Alexander, church planting strategist with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, as missions associate in church planting.
Also, Tom Campbell, currently associate in Minister-Church Relations, on Jan. 1 will become director of Facilitating Ministries, a newly created position overseeing field ministry strategists and relating to affiliated ministries. The role is one Executive Director Jim Richards filled through the first 10 years of the convention.
Richards told the board that Campbell’s new responsibilities would allow him to serve the staff and convention churches more effectively.
Smith replaces Troy Brooks, now pastor at First Baptist Church, Madisonville, as MCR director. An Alabama native who grew up in Texas, Smith holds three doctorates: a doctor of education from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., a doctor of philosophy from Southern, and a doctor of ministry from Luther Rice Seminary. He also holds degrees from Baylor University and Southwestern Seminary, where he earned a master of divinity.
He has served five churches as a pastor and two associations as a director of missions. He has been a trustee of the International Mission Board since 2001.
Smith said he is “happy at Dogwood Trails, really,” but after talking with Richards about the vacancy a few months ago, he said he sensed God was in it.
“I’ve come here today with a peace that this is where I’m supposed to be,” Smith told the board.
Priest said he first felt the calling to ministry in 1985, but wandered off that path with little encouragement from his church and family. Because of that experience, “I have a heart for helping churches know how to help young people called into ministry,” Priest said.
Priest was licensed to the ministry at First Baptist Church, Douglasville, Ga., in 1995, and ordained at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth in 2002. Before serving in an editorial capacity at Auxano Press, Priest served in staff roles at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury, Travis Avenue, and First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, N.C.
He holds a master of arts in Christian education from Southwestern Seminary.
Alexander is a Texas native who grew up on the mission field and is fluent in Spanish. He has served as a church-planting strategist in Mississippi since 2002.
A graduate of Texas Tech who thought he wanted to be a broadcast engineer, Alexander told how a summer stint in a broadcast booth changed his course. Later realizing God was leading him to be a third-generation missionary, Alexander pursued a seminary degree, graduating with a master of divinity with biblical languages from Southwestern.
Missions Director Terry Coy told the board in presenting Alexander, “It is amazing how God brings the right people together at the right time.” Coy said he’s known Alexander for about 15 years, and “when the time came for somebody to come in, he fit the skills and we needed, particularly in Hispanic church planting and cross-cultural church planting.”
Campbell, who came to the convention two years ago, is a native of Irving and a former pastor with a PhD. in New Testament and preaching.
Richards said of Campbell, “He is easily approachable and most importantly, he has an awareness of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention life in leading two churches he pastored to affiliate with us while serving them” and he is a detail person who “crosses all the T’s and dots the I’s.”
Richards said part of Campbell’s work will be supervising the field ministry strategists?SBTC staff who will “be on the ground relating to about 150 churches” as liaison between the churches, associations and the convention to help the SBTC serve Texas Southern Baptists more effectively.
In his report to the board, Richards expressed appreciation for the privilege of serving the convention as its first executive director after its founding in 1998.
Richards remarked, “It does not seem possible that it has been 10 years since this convention was founded. God has blessed us in an incredible fashion.”
As an example of ministry made possible by SBTC churches, Richards held up a commemorative Chinese-language Bible that was distributed during the Olympics in Beijing in part because the convention gave $200,000 in surplus funds to LifeWay’s “A Defining Moment” campaign to translate and print the Bibles for the Chinese people.
Also, “over 400 churches that were not in existence in 1998 are ministering to people today,” he said.
“The list goes on and on” of ways the convention has contributed to gospel work in Texas and beyond.
“He is able to do it through us, and we are just privileged to be an instrument and see that happen,” Richards said.
“We need to get in on what God’s doing, ” Richards said, noting the convention staff’s renewed commitment to be personal witnesses in the everyday course of life.
Richards encouraged the board to be ambassadors for the Cooperative Program missions funding channel, which makes Southern Baptist work possible locally and around the world.
“For our ministry to expand here in Texas, it is crucial for us to receive the Cooperative Program funds that will enable us to do it.”
Richards also encouraged to board to promote the upcoming SBTC Bible Conference and annual meeting at First Baptist Church of Houston, Nov. 9-11.
Monday night will include a celebration of 10 years of SBTC ministry, and Tuesday night will include an International Mission Board commissioning service for about 90 missionary couples.
Richards closed by saying that “if Jesus does tarry his coming, I believe the next 10 years of SBTC ministry will be even more fruitful than the first 10 years. “
Outgoing board members
Four outgoing board members were honored with framed art bearing Scripture verses. Kenneth Winkles of Pecos, Bill Sutton of McAllen, Euless Ready of Arlington, and Stan Coffey of Amarillo rotated off the board.
“These are the last of the original board members rotating off this year that set the course for this convention,” Richards said in presenting each with his plaque.
Richards quipped that Winkles “is one of our best trustees in Pecos; the other is Ron Garcia.” Winkles began his term as a layman and now is preaching, Richards noted.
Sutton, recently retired as pastor of First Baptist Church of McAllen, “has been a stalwart of the faith,” Richards said. “He has been a strength to the convention.”
Ready was a member of the laymen’s organization that led to the SBTC’s founding. Ready, in an emotional farewell address to the board, said, “It fills my heart with joy [to see the convention flourish]. We didn’t have any idea that this many pastors would come with us like they did.”
Richards said of Coffey, longtime pastor of The Church at Quail Creek, “There is no one person more responsible for what God has done here than Stan Coffey.” In the convention’s founding, “there are many others we could name, but Stan Coffey stands in the forefront” with those who founded the SBTC at great personal cost, Richards said.
Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis said the convention’s Cooperative Program receipts were $1.2 million a