DALLAS—The North American Baptist Fellowship unanimously elected Jeremy Bell, a Western Canadian with roots in Northern Ireland, as its general secretary.
Bell, most recently executive minister of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, succeeds Elijah Brown, who began work less than two weeks earlier as general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance.
Members of the NABF, a BWA regional body, elected Bell Jan. 10 at their annual gathering on the Buckner International campus in East Dallas.
The NABF general secretary search committee selected Bell from among about 20 applicants, five of whom the committee interviewed, said Chair Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Bell outlined his vision for the regional fellowship in a letter Paynter read to the NABF annual meeting.
“I am excited and anticipating the things that God seeks to do through and with us in this challenging, yet privileged, part of God’s planet—North America,” Bell wrote. “Whether it be justice, mercy, the conversion narrative of many who meet Jesus, or the responsible stewarding of God’s creation, I believe that Baptists have unique opportunity … to speak incarnationally and lovingly to society without being compromised by it.”
Bell also wrote of his “deep respect for the BWA and all its regions” and of the “real and present need to foster the enlarging of affiliation, membership and participation of cooperating Baptist bodies throughout North America.”
Jerry Carlisle, vice president of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation and a member of the NABF general secretary search committee, noted Bell’s service on BWA committees and history of involvement with the global Baptist family.
“He is uniquely qualified both to lead the NABF and to be an integral part of what is happening in BWA overall,” Carlisle said.
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After his election, Bell spoke to the general assembly about his desire to expand NABF by engaging in conversations with more than 120 Baptist bodies and affiliated educational institutions throughout North America.
Bell—whose parents immigrated from Northern Ireland and whose extended family speaks eight languages and at least a half-dozen English dialects—challenged Baptists to embrace their heritage as a people who have challenged authority while acting compassionately.
North American Baptists have a responsibility to “speak into the culture of which we are a part” and stand for those “on the edges and margins of society,” he said.
Bell is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia.
He is an ordained minister of the Baptist Union of Western Canada and founding pastor of Kitsilano Christian Community Church in Vancouver. He served as a minister at First Baptist Church in Vancouver and as chaplain and residential dean at Carey Hall in Vancouver.