PLANO (BP)—Ernie Myers, founding executive director of the Nevada Baptist Convention, died April 2, in Plano. He was 93.
Myers was elected as executive director when the Nevada convention was constituted in 1978 in Las Vegas during an Oct. 16-17 meeting at Red Rock Baptist Church. He led Nevada Baptists until his retirement in June 1992.
He also served as the Southern Baptist Convention’s second vice president, elected at the SBC’s 1989 annual meeting in Las Vegas.
“Dr. Myers provided stability as this new convention was learning to be a convention,” said Kevin White, the convention’s current executive director. “He ever sought to keep the vision and purpose before the churches—of a convention of churches working together for the kingdom.”
The convention grew from 65 churches and missions to 135 during the 13-plus years of Myers’ leadership, with 17,341 baptisms.
‘Trailblazer in the West’
Michael Rochelle, retired pastor of Shadow Hills Baptist Church in Las Vegas and a former convention president, said, “Nevada has been blessed by the visionary leadership of this trailblazer in the West.”
“Leaving the security and comfort of a solid ministry for the risk of giving birth to a new state convention evidences the walk of faith in this man’s life,” Rochelle said. “Patience and persistence characterized his life. His willingness to invest himself in the lives of churches and church leadership was undeniable.”
Mike McCullough, associate executive director for the California Southern Baptist Convention who formerly worked on the Nevada convention’s staff, said Myers, a Mississippi native, “loved serving in the West and advocated for the needs of Nevada and other new work conventions.”
“In the early 1980s, representation on SBC entities and boards required 25,000 church members, something few of the western states could claim,” McCullough said. “Ernie was instrumental in leading the SBC to change membership guidelines, giving the small new work conventions representation on the Executive Committee and major boards. That one action helped Nevada to believe it was really part of SBC life.”
Long record of denominational service
Myers, at the time of his election to lead the Nevada convention, had served as the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention’s director of assemblies development and architectural consultant since 1975.
He also worked for the Arizona convention from 1956-1961 as training union (discipleship) secretary and, later, Sunday School secretary, recording Sunday School growth from 29,000 to 45,000 in his five years on staff. He also served concurrently as an architectural consultant, assisting more than 150 Arizona churches in their building plans.
From 1961-1975, Myers worked at the former Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) as a consultant in the church architecture department, serving more than 4,300 churches in states west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii.
He helped develop the widely used “Together We Build” fundraising program for church construction; wrote several resources, including Essentials of a Church Building Program; and lectured on church buildings and finances at several SBC seminaries each year.
Myers was a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Mississippi College.
During World War II, he served three years in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre, receiving a Purple Heart.
Myers is survived by his wife June, married since December 1950, his son Ernest of Plano, and a daughter, Kay, an actress in Franklin, Tenn.