Hammond found joy in serving SBC; says it will take ‘missionary thinking’ to reach continent

ATLANTA–A week after he resigned from serving as president of the North American Mission Board, Geoff Hammond said he was glad to have played a role in helping Southern Baptists “live with urgency” in reaching the continent for Christ. His remarks to the Southern Baptist TEXAN provide the first public response since the day-long meeting of the NAMB trustee board that led to the resignations of Hammond and three of his closest vice presidents.
“The events as they unfolded last Tuesday [Aug. 11] were a shock to me. Although I am not at liberty to discuss the details, needless to say my resignation was not for moral, ethical or fiduciary responsibility but there were methodological differences,” Hammond told the TEXAN in an e-mail he also made available to Baptist Press. “I still feel God led me to the North American Mission Board for a purpose–to help Southern Baptists see North America as a mission field and to live with urgency reaching this continent for Christ.”
Board chairman Tim Patterson of Florida would not elaborate on the cause of the disagreement with Hammond, stating in his Aug. 11 remarks that they “worked through some very difficult issues” and “carried out their responsibilities today in a way that has been honorable, thorough and fair.”
Patterson thanked Southern Baptists for their prayers and appealed for God’s guidance, adding “NAMB will play a key part in the Southern Baptist effort to reach North America for Christ.”
Hammond was elected president by a unanimous vote of the NAMB board in March 2007 following a nine-month search to replace the previous president, Robert E. Reccord, who resigned as president in April 2006, citing “honest philosophical and methodological differences.”
In his response to questions posed by the TEXAN, Hammond noted: “Just the week before we hosted our State Summer Leadership meeting with state [convention] partners. In talking with hundreds of those partners, I felt we had incredible momentum and synergy and were set to have one of our greatest years ever. One of the greatest joys of my life was to lead NAMB as we created, developed and introduced the national evangelism initiative to Southern Baptists, GPS–God’s Plan for Sharing,” he added.

Though initially planned as a meeting of the NAMB trustees’ executive committee to “gain clarity” on several matters of conflict, the full board was called together for what became a daylong deliberation. One trustee cited Hammond’s failure to continue working with an executive leadership coach selected by trustees, his hiring of an administrative associate without consulting trustee leadership and low morale among the staff.

As recently as May, board chairman Tim Patterson of Florida affirmed Hammond as one “who for the past two years has led NAMB with a steady, efficient and effective hand. He has consistently sounded the clarion call that North America is a mission field. And he has done all this with a Christ-like attitude that I have had the privilege to witness firsthand.”

Last year Hammond unfolded the most ambitious nationwide evangelistic strategy since the Here’s Hope emphasis, which ran from 1990-95. Tagged God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS), Interim President Richard Harris said he hope to channel even more resources for what he considers “an opportunity to make the greatest impact in the time we have.”

“However, despite what occurred, I am still grateful to have had an opportunity to influence Southern Baptists to reach North America for Christ and to help them understand that it will take missionary thinking and practices to achieve that goal. I praise the Lord that Southern Baptists are still so mission minded and we are still planting a new church in North America every six hours,” Hammond told the TEXAN. “Southern Baptists have some of the most effective servants of the Lord in their North American missionaries and partners.”

Harris told an Aug. 13 chapel gathering, “I’m going to honor the past and try to learn from the past, but every day is a new day.” He asked staffers to imagine holding in their hands the 225 million people in North America that still do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, then to look in the mirror and say, “God, I’m responsible. This is under our watch. What are we going to do?”

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