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Pastor jailed in Haiti honored at SBC
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011

Pastor jailed in Haiti honored at SBC

Pastor jailed in Haiti honored at SBC
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011

PHOENIX — Two Southern Baptists who exemplify dedication and

sacrifice were honored during the afternoon session of the Southern Baptist

Convention (SBC) annual meeting June 14.

Paul Thompson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, was

among 10 Baptists arrested in Haiti on Jan. 30, 2010, for allegedly not having

proper documentation to take orphans to the neighboring Dominican Republic, a

charge later dropped by Haitian authorities.

Photo by Katey Wright

Paul Thompson, an Idaho pastor and one of the 10 Baptists held in a Haiti jail in 2010, received a standing ovation during the Executive Committee report June 14 during the first day of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. Thompson was introduced by EC President Frank Page. Thompson thanked Southern Baptists for their prayers.

SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page praised Thompson as “a Cooperative

Program supporting pastor” who “believes in doing missions, giving to missions,

and praying for missions.”

Page called Thompson, a bivocational pastor who drives a school bus to support

his family, to the platform and the audience gave him a sustained round of

applause. He thanked the crowd and stated: “I have never been so proud to be a

Southern Baptist as I was in the 19 days in a lonely but yet God-filled prison

cell in Haiti. I bless the Lord for Southern Baptists and for … our

cooperative work together. May the name of our Lord be greatly glorified on all

the earth.”

Page also called Ken Hemphill, the former national strategist for Southern

Baptists’ Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) initiative, and read a resolution of

appreciation adopted the previous day by the Executive Committee. The

resolution praised Hemphill for his “outstanding and exemplary leadership” of

EKG and “unflagging devotion to, and exemplary sacrifice in, advancing God’s

Kingdom for His glory.”

Hemphill served Southern Baptists at the national level for 19 years, first as

leader of the Center for Church Growth at the Home Mission Board (now North

American Mission Board), then as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological

Seminary in Texas before taking on the EKG role with the Executive Committee.

After a warm ovation from the audience, Hemphill said, in an emotion-filled

voice, it had been “a singular privilege … to serve our Southern Baptist Convention.”

Page also introduced a brief video in which Jon Akin, pastor of Fairview Church

in Lebanon, Tenn., explained why he is passionate about Southern Baptist

cooperative missions.

“Everything has issues. There are things that need to be dealt with and

improved,” said Akin, who also is a leader in the Baptist21 mission initiative.

“The reason I love the Cooperative Program is that it allows us to do church

planting, theological education and international missions better than anyone

else on the planet…. It allows us to do so many things — and to do them well

and to do them together — better than anybody else.”

Messengers also approved three Executive Committee recommendations about future

meetings dates and locations for the annual meeting: St. Louis, June 14-15,

2016; Phoenix, June 13-14, 2017; and Dallas, June 12-13, 2018.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.)