Trustees of the North American Mission Board met May 2–3 in a regularly scheduled board meeting where an increase in Southern Baptist church plants was celebrated, and plans for NAMB’s next Send Conference were discussed.
A key part of every NAMB trustee meeting is a vision tour where trustees connect with church planters and other NAMB missionaries. On Monday afternoon, trustees traveled to Send Relief’s Atlanta Ministry Center in Clarkston, Georgia. For decades the U.S. Government has made Clarkston one of its refugee resettlement centers because of Atlanta’s plentiful jobs, access to public transportation and affordable housing.
Trustees saw firsthand how the ministry center supports after school programs, English classes and job skills development designed to equip refugees for financial independence. A medical clinic that will soon be housed at the center is expected to serve up to 1,200 patients monthly.
“This is just one of 17 ministry centers around North America,” Josh Benton told trustees. Later that evening at a dinner for the trustees, Benton, Send Relief’s North American ministry vice president, along with the compassion ministry’s president Bryant Wright and international ministry vice president Jason Cox joined NAMB President Kevin Ezell to further discuss the ministry and update trustees on Send Relief’s efforts in Ukraine.
“Southern Baptists have been generous with their donations and generous in volunteering,” Cox said of the Ukraine response. Cox also told attendees that Send Relief is currently ministering to displaced people in 14 countries through the response.
Wright reminded trustees the overarching purpose of the ministry is to lead people to Christ.
“If we are helping people feel a little better on their road to hell, we have missed the biggest need in their life, and that is coming to know what real salvation in Christ is all about,” Wright said.
Trustees received several reports and acted on multiple items during their meetings at NAMB’s building in Alpharetta.
— Trustees unanimously approved an annual report to the Woman’s Missionary Union detailing how Annie Armstrong Easter Offering dollars are spent. All funds given to the offering are spent on the field to support and resource missionaries and evangelistic efforts.
— The board’s finance committee brought a recommendation to continue utilizing an outside, independent auditing firm that performs annual audits of NAMB, and the trustee board unanimously approved the recommendation.
— Matt Smith, NAMB’s chief financial officer, reported that NAMB’s year-to-date budget shows revenue is tracking above budget and higher than 2021’s year-to-date revenue.
Ezell recognized seven trustees who are concluding their terms of service on the board: Cindy Bush, a member of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina; Denilio “Denny” J. Gorena, pastor of Sagamore Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas; Zoila Lopez, a member of First Baptist Church Forney, Texas; Robert J. “Bob” Lowe, pastor of Yelm First Baptist Church in Yelm, Washington; David Saylor, pastor of Manchester First Baptist Church in Manchester, Connecticut; Jarrett Stephens, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas; and Danny Wood, retired pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Kenneth Priest, who had been serving as a trustee from Texas, resigned from the board in February after relocating to Hawaii to pastor Valley Isle Fellowship.
Ezell shared that in 2021, for the second consecutive year, the new congregation count was up. Southern Baptists added 1,018 new congregations in 2021 which included 735 church plants, 201 new affiliations and 82 new campuses. Of the church plants, 135 were replants.
“We have a lot to celebrate,” Ezell said. “But we cannot be satisfied when 275 million people across the U.S. and Canada do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.”
Ezell also shared that NAMB has started plans for a Send Conference in 2024, tentatively to be held in July in Nashville. Future plans include Send Conference events in 2027 and 2030. More details will be shared soon.
“We want to help more churches see the importance of sending,” Ezell said. “It’s a great mobilizer of people and it creates energy and excitement for the movement.”
Ezell closed by reminding trustees that NAMB wants to be indispensable to pastors.
“Our purpose at NAMB is to come alongside and be a tool for a pastor,” he said. “We really are stronger together.”