ALPHARETTA, Ga. — One-third
of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) staff will be leaving at the end
of the year as a result of retirement incentives and other downsizing of the
Southern Baptist entity. On Friday, Dec. 10, NAMB recognized retirees who are
taking advantage of incentives offered at the beginning of October.
“These individuals have
served NAMB and Southern Baptists in outstanding ways over the years,” NAMB
President Kevin Ezell said. “We appreciate everything they have done to further
God’s Kingdom and the impact of their work will continue for years to come.”
Of the total of 99 people
leaving, 81 are taking an early retirement package Ezell announced Oct. 1.
Employees aged 54 and older were eligible for the package.
In addition to incentives
offered by NAMB, retiring employees also were able to lock in to a higher
annuity rate through GuideStone Financial Resources. The Southern Baptist
financial services provider announced over the summer that the floor on its
annuitized rates would drop from the current 6 percent to somewhere between 3
to 4 percent.
Anticipating a lower number
of people in the building due to retirements, NAMB also trimmed a number of
services and support staff positions. These additional reductions brought the
total number of year-end departures to 99.
Carlos Ferrer, NAMB’s chief
financial officer who also serves as vice president overseeing human resources
and other services functions, said the entity is providing support for those in
“The package we are giving
to those who are departing is as generous as we could make it,” Ferrer said. “In
addition, we are providing the services of a Christian job placement company to
assist those who are seeking further employment.”
Ferrer added that “those
leaving are our longtime friends and co-laborers and we are committed to
helping them make this transition as smoothly as possible.”
At a Nov. 16 missionary
commissioning service in Texas, Ezell stated, “As we go through changes,
absolutely every change we make and every reduction we make is to put more
missionaries in the field.”
In October, Ezell told NAMB’s
board of trustees he is undertaking a four-step process: re-focus NAMB; build a
strategy; develop the staff necessary to execute the strategy; and implement
the strategy. The downsizing is part of a re-focus effort that will narrow the
number of activities the entity undertakes.
“I have the very strong
conviction that NAMB has been trying to do too much in too many different
arenas,” Ezell stated in a Nov. 22 e-mail to the executive directors of state
NAMB trustees also announced
in October the formation of a “vision” committee that will work with Ezell
through the strategy building and implementation process. That committee, now
referred to as the implementation committee, consists of five members: Joey T.
Anthony, pastor of Midway Baptist Church in Phenix, Va.; Stephen E. Hogan,
pastor of Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; Steven D. Holdaway, pastor
of LifeSpring Church in Bellevue, Neb.; Donna C. Medcalf, member of Edwards
Road Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C.; and David Self, executive pastor of
First Baptist Church Houston, Texas.
The Georgia Christian Index
reported Dec. 9 that Lester L. Cooper Jr., pastor of Concord Baptist Church in
Cumming, Ga., had resigned from NAMB’s board of trustees reportedly in
disagreement with the reduction in senior staff. A NAMB spokesman additionally
noted in an e-mail to board chairman Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagles Landing First
Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., Cooper said he wanted to focus more of his
time on his church.
In a podcast posted by NAMB
on Monday, Dec. 13, Ezell said he is working closely with state convention
executive directors to develop NAMB’s new direction and that the process is
moving as quickly as possible.
“I cannot get in a cubicle
and come up with this answer myself and come out and try and sell it,” Ezell
said. “I really think the best way … is getting everyone around the table and
saying, ‘Hey, how can we do this together?’”