International Mission Board (IMB) President David Platt has announced a transition team that will focus on the practical needs of missionaries who accept the voluntary retirement incentive recently offered to personnel who are at least 50 years of age with five years of service.
The retirement incentive is the first phase to reduce IMB staff and field personnel by 600 to 800 people in response to revenue shortfalls. See related story. The goal of the plan, IMB leaders shared, is to offer as generous a voluntary retirement incentive as possible, while honoring years of service and providing a smooth transition for the personnel.
“I know that this transition is not going to be easy, particularly for those who might be moving back to the U.S.,” Platt told staff and missionaries during a Sept. 17 chapel service.
“We want to help as much as possible with practical needs and leverage the entire SBC family to that end,” he said.
Clyde Meador, IMB’s executive advisor to the president, is leading the transition team.
“The team is definitely unified and has a great concern for missionaries,” Meador said. “They have many, many ideas of ways to minister to our returning personnel.”
He noted most members of the team have significant field experience and have made the adjustment from international service to life in the U.S.
Meador said Southern Baptists already are responding with offers of assistance. IMB has received offers of housing, employment opportunities, vehicles, counseling and other practical expressions of support from individuals, churches, associations, state conventions, Woman’s Missionary Union, seminaries and other partners.
To best serve personnel during this time, Meador said he hopes the team will be able to connect individuals to the resources they most need. After missionaries indicate they are accepting the retirement incentive, the transition team will send them a detailed questionnaire regarding their expected needs, including housing, child education and other employment opportunities.
The transition team will work to pair specific needs with the offers of assistance from Southern Baptists that the team is receiving.
“As we all approach this opportunity to welcome and honor these faithful servants, I have no doubt Southern Baptists will respond in overwhelming ways we could never imagine,” said Terri Willis, director of national relations for IMB and member of the transition team.
A statement from the team referenced that the greatest need is prayer: “We trust that our churches, above all else, will be praying for these individuals and their stateside families who will be welcoming them.”
Meador indicated the team will focus first on offering assistance to field personnel and then seek ways to assist staff, who accept the retirement incentive.
To offer practical expressions of support, contact IMB’s transition team at [email protected].
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marie Curtis is a writer and editor for IMB.)