David Bunch, who helped Southern Baptists launch Mission Service Corps in the 1970s and played an integral role in three Southern Baptist state conventions, died July 24.
“He was one of those quiet individuals, always in the right place at the right time, did all the things he was supposed to do, created things behind the scenes, got it done,” said Jim Haskell, pastor of Bridgepoint Church at Toco Hills in Decatur, Georgia.
“Just consider the immense accomplishments of Mission Service Corps volunteers over the years,” Haskell said. “He has truly left a profound mark on Christianity in the United States, yet most people are unaware of his immense contributions. His name may not be widely known, but his influence is felt, nonetheless.”
Bunch became the first national director of Mission Service Corps as it launched in 1977. The former Home Mission Board — now the North American Mission Board — created the MSC program after a meeting between Southern Baptist leaders and U.S. President Jimmy Carter who met at the White House that year.
The MSC program provided a funding pathway for Southern Baptist missions that was not available under current convention-wide funding methods. In its first 25 years of existence, the program provided missionary service opportunities for more than 76,000 volunteers. NAMB still offers Southern Baptists an opportunity to learn about and support self-funded missionaries, a direct legacy of the MSC program.
Decades of service
Bunch also served as the national director for church planting at the Home Mission Board.
Haskell, then an engineering major at the Georgia Institute of Technology, first met Bunch in the summer of 1974 while serving as a summer missionary in Iowa.
At the time, Bunch was the executive director and treasurer of the Iowa Southern Baptist Fellowship (today the Baptist Convention of Iowa), a position he held from 1968–1977. On Haskell’s first night in the state, he stayed with Bunch and his wife, Joann. Over the summer, Bunch stayed in close touch with Haskell. In just 10 weeks that summer, Haskell, Larry Bowser and their team started a church.
“I went to Iowa that summer planning on being an engineer, and 10 weeks later, I came out with a ministry calling,” Haskell said. “I finished up my final year of engineering and headed to seminary. David’s fingerprints are all over that whole process for me.”
Haskell says that was just the beginning of Bunch’s involvement and mentoring in his ministry. It was a relationship that extended into recent years when they met regularly while Haskell served as NAMB’s Send City Missionary in Atlanta until his retirement six years ago.
Bunch also served as the executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention for six years before retiring in 2000. He served as interim executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England in 2001.
Bunch was born in 1930 in Eldon, Missouri. He came to faith in Christ and was baptized at Aurora Springs Baptist Church in Eldon, Missouri, in 1941. He had degrees from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (doctor of ministry), Central Baptist Theological Seminary (master of theology and bachelor of divinity), and William Jewell College. He pastored several churches in Missouri before serving at the Home Mission Board.
Bunch is survived by his wife, Joann, and two sons.