NAMB trustees approve Send Relief, IMB aid

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)—Trustees of the North American Mission Board have approved the establishment of Send Relief—a new compassion ministry to offer Southern Baptists opportunities to meet physical needs and serve underprivileged communities.

Also during their Oct. 7 meeting, NAMB’s trustees approved a $4 million budget reduction so the entity can send funds to assist International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell, commenting on the Send Relief initiative, noted shortly after trustees closed their meeting in Salt Lake City, “Imagine 40,000 Southern Baptist churches engaged to meet needs in their communities and across North America. Send Relief will give churches hands-on opportunities to alleviate suffering and transform lives.”

Send Relief will launch in 2016 and include compassion ministries to combat hunger and poverty, serve children through foster care and adoption, combat human trafficking, minister to migrants through international learning centers, and meet inner-city needs with construction and medical teams.

NAMB’s disaster relief team will be part of Send Relief and continue to have its own director, although the position is currently vacant. Texas trustee Denny Gorena of Leonard told the Southern Baptist TEXAN that NAMB’s role of coordinating national responses will not change. “Disaster Relief, in my opinion, has been one of the greatest ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention and NAMB’s coordinating efforts have been recognized by many different organizations, churches and individuals in the SBC.”

Trustees approved David Melber as vice president of Send Relief. Melber has led Crossings Ministries camp outreach in Kentucky since 2003.

Melber said Send Relief won’t focus on building its own ministries but will find people who are already demonstrating leadership and success and give them a larger platform to expand their ministry.

“I don’t think I’ve got the greatest idea on how to address human trafficking, but God has no doubt burdened people with that. They are already doing great things, and they need to be given some encouragement and resources to see those ministries expanded,” he said.

Melber said Southern Baptists have a great reputation for serving in times of disaster, and he wants to build on that inclination to serve.

“The reality is there are plenty of human conditions that need relief without hurricanes or tornados,” Melber said. “Jesus went to where the people were. These ministries will help us do that. Ultimately this will be for proclaiming the gospel and helping to start new churches. I don’t want to say it’s the best thing going at NAMB, but I’m pretty excited about it.”

“Young people want to serve,” Ezell said. “People are retiring with 10 or 20 or more years of good health left. They want meaningful ways to use their skills and serve. Send Relief will do that.”

Trustees approved the $4 million budget reduction to assist IMB missionaries during NAMB’s 2015-16 fiscal year. Ezell requested the action in response to the IMB’s announced reduction in personnel of up to 15 percent in order to address ongoing revenue shortfalls.

“This is a Kingdom vote,” declared NAMB trustee chairman Chuck Herring, senior pastor of Collierville First Baptist Church near Memphis, after NAMB trustees unanimously passed the resolution. Next, the SBC Executive Committee must approve the proposed assistance before NAMB can transfer funds to IMB.

In other business:

— Trustees received a report showing that revenue for 2014-15 was 1.15 percent higher than the previous year and revenue exceeded spending for the year.

— Trustees authorized several other position and structure changes in addition to Melber’s in Send Relief. Carlos Ferrer will serve as executive vice president; Kim Robinson will serve as vice president of marketing and ministry support; and Clark Logan will serve as chief financial officer. All three men have been promoted from other roles at NAMB.

— Gary Frost shared with trustees that he has resigned from his role as vice president of NAMB’s Midwest Region to move to the role of national facilitator for prayer and compassion initiatives with Mission America.

With additional reporting by Tammi Ledbetter.

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