RIDGECREST, N.C.—Meeting at Ridgecrest Conference Center on Sept. 13, International Mission Board trustees passed a $262 million balanced budget for 2017-2018, appointed 51 new missionaries—including a dozen from Texas, and heard a statement from the Executive Committee allowing IMB President David Platt to serve as teaching pastor of McLean Bible Church on a provisional basis.
The new budget addresses four priorities, according to Rodney Freeman, vice president of support services and IMB treasurer, including sustaining the organization while also undergirding, replenishing and expanding the current mission force. It also allows 5.5 months of contingency reserves.
Among the newly appointed missionaries are Tyson and Rebecca Shapley along with their five children sent by Harmony Baptist Church in Weatherford who will work among Sub-Saharan African peoples and Austin and Jenna Farmer* and their three children sent by First Baptist Church in Willis to serve among East Asian peoples.
Three other couples from Texas churches, Carter and Brooke Wyatt* and their son, Rey and Ellie Bauer* and their four children, and Marshall and Teresa Cooper* are working among South Asian peoples but cannot be identified due to security concerns.
Jonathan and Audrey McGrath* and their four children sent by First Baptist Church in Van Alstyne will serve among East Asian peoples.
Commissioned later that evening in the presence of nearly 1,000 emeriti missionaries representing 25,297 years of service, Platt challenged newly appointed missionaries to “never stop looking to Jesus—he’s the founder of your faith.”
That afternoon when addressing Platt’s responsibility at the Virginia church where he has served as teaching pastor on an interim basis, board chairman Hance Dilbeck of Oklahoma City said the matter had been “actively discussed” in a trustee forum. The Executive Committee will evaluate Platt’s involvement at the church over a provisional period in the coming months and revisit the matter in February.
Reading a statement drafted by that committee, Dilbeck said Platt had expressed “a deep sense of calling to serve” the local church while continuing to lead the IMB. “We respect Dr. Platt and his sense of the Lord’s leading, and we recognize our responsibility to hold him accountable for his work leading the International Mission Board.”
In addition to evaluating Platt’s fulfillment of responsibilities as IMB president, the statement indicated trustees will also evaluate McLean Bible Church’s level of partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention. “It is something we will continue to be in prayer about and ask the Lord to give us a clear and common sense of leadership as we know that he will,” Dilbeck said.
According to an online FAQ at imb.org, when Platt was elected trustees had “mutually agreed that in light of the age and stage of his family and the amount of travel he would do domestically and internationally during the week, he would be home with his family on the majority of his weekends” and “it would be a good, wise, and right use of his time to be a part of leadership in a local Southern Baptist church.” He will continue this pattern as his family worships at McLean Bible Church, however, he will not be involved in day-to-day leadership nor will he draw a salary from the church.
The northern Virginia church began cooperating with Southern Baptists in 2016, according to the online IMB statement.
In other business, the board responded to a referred SBC motion that they had formed a special committee to explore and examine trustee representation from each Southern Baptist state convention contributing through the Cooperative Program.
In another referral requesting online access to trustee contact information, the board noted a publicly accessible directory is already available along with an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) by which questions or comments may be sent.
Two bequests were received from estates with funds transferred to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. This year’s LMCO goal was set at $153 million based on a four-year average of past receipts, excluding one unusually high 2015 offering. Promotional resources are available at IMB.org/LMCO.
*names changed for security reasons.