WOODSTOCK, Ga. — Before
3,000 people at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. — one of the largest
crowds to ever witness a North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary
commissioning service — NAMB introduced 79 new missionaries and 16 new
chaplains March 28.
The new missionaries and chaplains represented 24 states, two Canadian
provinces and 23 state Baptist conventions. South Carolina alone accounted for
11 missionaries commissioned during the two-hour service.
Steve and Nellene Carter of Lincolnton, N.C., were commissioned as Missionary
Service Corps (MSC) missionaries for Vermont and New Hampshire. To be based in
Barre, Vt., the Carters will leave their North Carolina home to spend six
months of the year in Vermont to encourage pastors and to serve as “church
strengtheners” to the 35 congregations in the Green Mountain Baptist Association
serving Vermont and two churches in New Hampshire.
The Carters are both retired from earlier careers — Nellene as a banker and
Steve as a manager for a nuclear plant for 27 years.
“We have been to Vermont on short-term mission trips for the last six summers,”
Carter said. “During those summers, we developed a heart for Vermont because it’s
the least evangelized state in the nation.”
The couple is part of Macedonia Baptist Church in Lincolnton.
One newly commissioned Army chaplain, Capt. Jared Vineyard, will be deployed to
Afghanistan later this summer, leaving behind his expectant wife Amanda, son
Jacob and daughter Kate at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Vineyard will serve as a chaplain
in the “Band of Brothers” battalion of the 101st Airborne Division, also known
as the “Screaming Eagles.”
As one of seven battalion chaplains, the 30-year-old Vineyard will be pastor to
900 soldiers, part of a 4,000-soldier brigade deploying to Afghanistan in late
“The Army says these are your soldiers, and you become a pastor to these 900
men, most of whom are lost,” Vineyard said. “We call it a ministry of presence.
When they go out in the field to train, I go out in the field with them.”
The commissioning at First Baptist Woodstock was especially sweet for Charlie
and Cindy Minney, who called it “phenomenal” to be commissioned at the same
Atlanta-area church where he served 11 years prior to his new assignment as an
associational missionary in the Coalfields Baptist Association in Logan, W.Va.
“To be here back at home with the First Baptist Woodstock family, and to have
them send us off like this, I can’t explain it in words,” Minney said.
new post, Minney will work with church planters to start new churches, with
existing churches to accomplish specific goals, and with the associational team
to develop a mission strategy for the Coalfields region.
Bill and Monaca Brisbin and Rick and Sharon Bradley, all of South Lebanon,
Ohio, were all commissioned as Mission Service Corps missionaries who work with
ministries at First Baptist Church, South Lebanon.
The Brisbins, for instance, have led the “Bread Basket” food ministry for the
last 18 months, providing 120 families each week with bread products and
emergency food boxes.
Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Woodstock’s senior pastor and president of the
Southern Baptist Convention, welcomed the missionaries, their families and
friends, NAMB staff and others to the church for the commissioning.
“What a joy to support our NAMB missionaries, and for our own people to see
that ordinary, common people of every age — senior adults, young couples, single
women, single guys — all reflect the example of what we teach.”
Richard Harris, interim president of NAMB in Alpharetta, Ga., challenged the
new missionaries and chaplains to be driven by one simple thing: “the call of
Almighty God on your life. Never leave it, never lose it, never doubt it. You
will need that during the hard days to encourage you and keep you going.”
Harris told the missionaries that God will hold them “accountable for two
things — equipping every church member to be a reproducing follower of Christ
and sharing the Good News with every person in your Jerusalem and in your
sphere of influence.”
“Some SBC churches have forgotten these two things, when you consider that 25
percent of churches baptized nobody last year. More than 61 percent of our
churches baptized five or less; 79 percent baptized 10 or less; and only 251 of
our bigger churches baptized 100 or more. I’m proud to say that First Baptist
Woodstock was one of those,” Harris said.
Harris dismissed the notion that most Baptists don’t have the gift of
“There’s no such thing as the gift of evangelism in the Bible,” he said. “Show
me where it talks about the gift of evangelism. Ephesians talks about the
office of evangelist. But every believer — missionary, chaplain, pastor, church
member and Sunday School member — is responsible for bringing people to faith
in Christ. If you’re not fishing, you’re not following.”
Harris said three out of every four people — whether in rural areas or urban
areas, where 83 percent of North Americans live — need Christ.
“Lostness” is especially pervasive in Canada, where Harris said that out of the
nation’s 34 million people, only 5 percent have a personal relationship with
Thirty-five Canadian cities with populations of more than 35,000
have no evangelistic witness. Six million French Canadians represent the
largest of 587 unreached people groups in North America, Harris noted.
Also participating in the commissioning service were J. Robert White, executive
director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and Kay Miller, national president
of Woman’s Missionary Union.
In all, more than 5,300 missionaries serve with the North American Mission
Board, most of them through partnerships with state Baptist conventions. In
addition to the missionaries, NAMB is the endorsing entity for more than 3,400
Southern Baptist chaplains in military, hospital, professional, corporate,
public safety and institutional settings.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)