Most SBC entity heads stay true

Conservative Larry Lewis implemented crisis pregnancy network as HMB president.

Writer Joni Hannigan compiled a list of the Southern Baptist Convention entity heads serving in 1979 through the subsequent years of the conservative resurgence, detailing their work then and now.

Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board)

Keith Parks (1980-1992)

Parks was seen as “apolitical” until 1985 when he wrote to SBC foreign missionaries and told them he could not support the re-election of conservative Charles Stanley as SBC president. In 1990, Parks wrote an open letter printed in Baptist Press which said: “Many Southern Baptists are feeling grief, but it would be a great tragedy for Southern Baptists to revert to an independent church approach for supporting missions and other causes of common concern.” Parks retired from the board Oct. 31, 1992 and the next day became the head of the Baptist Cooperative Mission Program.

Parks served as the coordinator of Global Missions & Ministries for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship from 1992-1999. In 2002, Parks was inducted into the Mainstream Hall of Fame, a listing by Mainstream Baptists of those opposing “the legalism of SBC conservatism.”

In 2004, Parks served as chairman of a Mission Review and Initiatives sub-committee for the Baptist General Convention of Texas in helping to set up a funding source for missionaries unwilling to affirm the 2000 BF&M. Parks acknowledged a lingering question: “Is this a missions-sending organization?” He answered, “We don’t know. It’s not at this point. Whatever you want it to be, it will become.”

Christian Life Commission

(preceded the Ethics & Religious

Liberty Commission)

Foy Valentine (1971-1986)

Valentine led the SBC in 1971 to approve an abortion rights resolution. Later, Valentine opposed a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion on demand and in 1977 was a national sponsor of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. He retired from the CLC in 1985 for medical reasons, but received a salary until 1988.

Valentine wrote a book on ethics published in 2003 by Smith & Helwys, and is the founding editor of A Journal of Christian Ethics, a website established in 2000. He is a lecturer at the Hardin-Simmons University Logsdon School of Theology in Texas. Valentine formerly headed the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor. He is a trustee for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Home Mission Board

(now the North American

Mission Board)

Bill Tanner (1976-1987)

Tanner led the HMB when there was a minority of conservative trustees who began in the mid-1980s to ask for doctrinal integrity, stricter staff accountability and pro-life policies. When the appointment of an ordained woman to a student ministry role prompted the personnel committee to vote against her recommendation, Tanner pled for restraint, convincing the board to approve the appointment. He left the HMB in 1987 to become the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Larry Lewis (1987-1996)

Lewis prioritized increased church planting, evangelistic outreach resulting in more baptisms and expanding the North American mission force to a level of 5,000 by the year 2000. He expected HMB staff to be active soul winners, reformed the Interfaith Witness Department from an emphasis on dialogue to understanding other faiths in order to share the gospel with their adherents.

Lewis demonstrated great support for the Cooperative Program and instituted pro-life initiatives at the board. He questioned some aspects of the Southern Baptist Convention restructuring process and retired in 1996, joining California-based Mission America Coalition and planting a Southern Baptist church.

Baptist Sunday School Board

Joni B. Hannigan
Intro LLC & Florida Baptist Witness
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