Chitwood announces IMB five-year plan

  |  Source: Baptist Press

Paul Chitwood, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, addresses IMB trustees. (IMB Photo)

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP)—Paul Chitwood, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, announced the mission agency’s five-year plan during meetings with trustees Jan. 29-30 in Riverside, Calif.

Chitwood announced five targets built around IMB’s vision and mission to engage unreached people and places over the next five years. The targets are based on the organization’s core convictions, which include proclaiming the gospel to those who have yet to hear it.

  1. Mobilize 75 percent of Southern Baptist churches to pray for and financially support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering by 2025. On the Annual Church Profile, less than half of Southern Baptist churches reported they gave to the offering last year, he noted.
  2. Send an additional 500 fully funded missionaries by 2025. This number came to IMB leadership directly as a request from the field, Chitwood said.
  3. Mobilize 500 global partner missionaries on IMB teams. While IMB will not fund these missionaries, they will be embedded on IMB teams and an essential part of IMB strategy, he said.
  4. Engage 75 global cities in comprehensive strategies. Demographers project that 80 percent of the world’s population will be in the urban centers by the end of this century, Chitwood said.
  5. Increase Lottie Moon Christmas Offering receipts 6 percent annually to sustain the 500 additional missionaries, or $10 million per year for the next five years.

“While that seems like a lot of money, it will only require that every one of the 16 million Southern Baptists increase their … offering by 63 cents per year,” Chitwood said. “Dividing by the number of Southern Baptist churches, every church needs to give an additional $200 per year. No matter how you do that math, the point is, it can be done.”

New vice presidents elected

International Mission Board trustees elected Charles Clark as vice president of mobilization and Price Jett as vice president of finance, logistics and technology.

Charles Clark

Clark most recently served with the IMB as affinity group leader for the Americas. He has more than 15 years of experience with IMB.

Growing up as a “missionary kid” in the Americas, Clark began his career with IMB as a church planter in 2004 after working more than 30 years in the corporate world in progressive leadership roles.

He completed his corporate career as vice president of e-Business with Occidental Chemical Corporation and vice president of global solutions with HAHT Commerce. He and his wife, Karen, have three grown children and nine grandchildren.

Price Jett

Jett has served as chief information officer for IMB since July 2019. In this role, Jett has managed all aspects of IMB’s technology portfolio and established a global governance process for technology initiatives, as well as restructured financial arrangements with vendors to eliminate waste.

Prior to work at IMB, Jett founded The Care Group, using technology to help families navigate the complex world of elder care. Jett also previously served as the chief information officer and executive director of The Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner) from 2002 to 2016.

As executive director and chief information officer, Jett led a technology team of 300 and a publishing team of 200 across five continents. He and his wife Diedre have three children, Peter, 13, Price, 18, and Rachel, 20.

Missionaries appointed, memorial tribute paid

Trustees approved the appointment of 21 new full-time, fully funded missionaries, who were honored during a Sending Celebration on Jan. 29 at Magnolia Church in Riverside.

Todd Lafferty, IMB executive vice president, recognized the lives of 78 former colleagues—including 10 retired staff members, three current missionaries and 65 emeritus missionaries—who died in the past year. The field personnel’s lives totaled 1,780 years of service through the IMB, with an average age of 85 and an average of 26 years of service.

Former staff who were recognized in memoriam included Don Kammerdiener, who served 39 years as a missionary to Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay, area director for Middle America and Caribbean, and executive vice president and interim president of the IMB.

Lafferty also recognized three missionaries who died in active service. Gena Wilson, 51, served 22 years in Europe. She died of cancer May 13, 2019. LaVerne Brown, 48, served 15 years with Sub-Saharan African Peoples. She died of cancer Aug. 25, 2019. Andy Leininger, 56, served 22 years in Europe. He died of cancer Oct. 13, 2019.

Emeritus missionaries included, among many others who served around the globe: Martha Brady, 86, who served 43 years in the Bahamas, Guyana, Belize and the Caribbean Regional Office; Emanetta Qualls, 101, who served 20 years in Brazil; and Thurman Braughton, 87, who served 28 years in the Philippines, Malaysia and Pakistan.

Acknowledge racist past

In response to a motion made during the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Ala., IMB trustees also voted to recommend to the SBC “that the IMB sponsor the addition to the SBC calendar of an annual George Liele Missions and Evangelism Day, to be held on the first Sunday of February of each year,” beginning in 2021.

Liele was a Georgia slave who came to faith in 1773 at age 23, was given his freedom to pursue God’s call on his life, became the first ordained African American Baptist preacher in America and planted the gospel in Jamaica as the first missionary from America.

“As we seek to educate Southern Baptists on our own history, we are grateful for the prospect of being able to promote an annual George Liele Missions and Evangelism Day,” Chitwood said.

Chitwood also announced the celebration of 175 years of Southern Baptist work among the nations. Recognizing that Baptist churches in the South separated from northern churches over the issue of slavery, Chitwood invited Nate Bishop, an African American trustee from Kentucky, to share his perspective on the issue.

Bishop encouraged trustees when addressing the beginnings of the Southern Baptist Convention and the IMB “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

“Our convention was birthed in sin,” Bishop said. “There is no way to get around it. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. You have to call it what it is. But here is the beauty of being a Southern Baptist: When we repent and confess our sin, we don’t have to be defensive. … We celebrate this 175th anniversary because Christ has freed us” from that sin.

“There is a new ethnicity birthed by the blood of Jesus, and that is the church,” Bishop continued. “We will tell the truth, not because we are ashamed, but because we want to glory in Christ. What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Increase diversity, respond to sex abuse

Chitwood also announced the selection of several new staff members, including a renewed emphasis on mobilization, a new general counsel and a newly created prevention and response administrator.

“In an effort to better serve and more effectively mobilize the diverse family of Southern Baptists here at home, we have diversified IMB’s mobilization team with team members representing and assigned to African American Southern Baptist churches, Hispanic Southern Baptist churches, and Asian American Southern Baptist churches,” Chitwood said.

“We have also added mobilization personnel specifically assigned to engage more students and local Baptist associations. We have a long way to go, but the early returns on this extra investment in mobilization are encouraging.”

The goal of these positions is to continue to grow the number of candidates for missionary service, Chitwood said.

“Our missionary pipeline is growing again,” Chitwood said. “In just over a year, we’ve been able to increase the number of candidates in the career pipeline by more than 400 percent and the number of combined long-term, mid-term and team associate candidates by nearly 300 percent. We’ve also been blessed to receive this year the largest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering from a church in IMB history.”

Chitwood also announced that Richard Salamy has been named as IMB’s general counsel and Somer Nowak will serve in the newly created role of prevention and response administrator.

“The prevention and response administrator position is evidence that IMB absolutely remains committed to making changes necessary to better prevent instances of child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault) and to better care for victims while holding perpetrators accountable,” Chitwood said.

IMB leadership is “diligently moving toward the highest standards in abuse prevention and response, including providing compassionate care,” he said.

The next IMB board of trustees meeting is scheduled May 13-14 in Richmond, Va.


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