At the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting in Waco, Texas Baptists celebrated the 100th anniversary of collegiate ministry and prayed for Baptist Student Ministry directors on more than 100 campuses around the state. Four BSM directors presented testimonials at the annual meeting—Jamie Russell from Texas Southern University, Robert Rueda from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Morgan Little from Tarleton State University and Charlie Ramsey from Baylor University. Mark Jones is director of collegiate ministry for Texas Baptists.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor named Steve Vernon as director of church relations and professional-in-residence for the College of Christian Studies. Vernon will act as UMHB’s liaison with churches throughout Texas; serve as a resource for churches looking for full-time, interim or supply pastors from the university’s faculty and staff; and coordinate internship opportunities for Christian studies majors. He will assume those responsibilities after he retires Jan. 2, 2020, as associate executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Vernon served in that role the last 11 years. Previously, he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Levelland. He served as BGCT president in 2006-07. Vernon earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor University and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation presented three awards at a luncheon held in conjunction with Texas Baptists’ annual meeting in Waco. Lee and Ruthie Baggett of Amarillo received the Adventurer Award for leadership in missions, particularly their longtime involvement in meeting the medical and nutritional needs of people in isolated and underserved areas of Mexico. Baylor Scott & White Health received the Innovator Award for creativity in mission, primarily for its Faith in Action initiative. Last year, Faith in Action sent more than $7 million in equipment and supplies around the world, deployed 185 registered nurses and 35 physicians for international medical mission opportunities, and mobilized about 50 volunteers per month to sort and inventory various supplies. Joel Allison, former chief executive officer of Baylor Scott & White, and John McWhorter, chief operating officer, started the program. Don Sewell is director of Faith in Action initiatives. Mission Waco/Mission World and its founders, Jimmy and Janet Dorrell, received the Pioneer Award for service in missions. The Dorrells began Mission Waco in 1991 to empower individuals in poverty through relationship-based, holistic programs; mobilize middle-class Christians to become involved through hands-on experiences; and address systemic issues that disempower the poor. Currently, the organization has 18 ministries and 80 staff who are serving the poor, many of whom are living in the same neighborhood.
East Texas Baptist University presented its Founders Society Award to Bob Riley, president emeritus, and Gayle Riley, former first lady of the university, during halftime at an ETBU Tiger football game on Nov. 9. Membership in the ETBU Founders Society is reserved for those who have contributed at least $100,000 to the university throughout their lifetime. “We are immensely grateful to the Rileys for their commitment to servant leadership and their faithfulness to East Texas Baptist University that still manifests today,” ETBU President Blair Blackburn said. “Their commitment to ETBU and their Christian servant leadership will have a lasting impact on generations of Tigers academically, physically, and spiritually.” The Rileys served the university from 1992 to 2009.
Students from Howard Payne University’s School of Nursing participated in the annual “Our Community Cares” event at Redstone Park, a Brownwood-area assisted-living facility. The students staffed a booth and provided information about HPU, strength training and safe ways to get up from a fall. They also held a drawing for a basket that included two-pound weights, a pedometer and resistance balls. Redstone Park’s event invited members of the community to learn about available health services while enjoying live entertainment, food and door prizes. Attendees also were able to donate blood, receive vaccines and have their vision checked.