Gilbert announced today that he is leaving Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, which he has
led as senior pastor since 2002.
“Calvary is a special
place and it has been a great honor to serve God with you,” Gilbert said in a
letter to church members. “You have loved and encouraged us and will always
have a special place in our hearts. This has been a very difficult decision for
us, but we have seen God’s hand opening a door for ministry.”
start at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in mid-September as executive
director of Love Loud, the ministry evangelism arm of NAMB.
explained to his church members that his wife’s parents have been in declining
health. KK’s mom fell and broke a hip before Thanksgiving 2010, and she has
been in Atlanta a great deal
since the incident.
have continuously cried out to God for wisdom and direction,” he wrote. “While
praying over how to meet KK’s parents’ needs, I realized God is leading us to a
place where KK can care for her parents and I can continue to influence the
people of God to be on mission.”
director of Love Loud.
compared his new assignment to a similar ministry at Calvary. Love Winston-Salem is a year-round attempt to partner with schools, recreation centers and Christian ministries. He said there will be an emphasis
throughout all regions to find ways to reach neglected neighborhoods with
evangelism, compassion and missions.
Executive Committee approved Gilbert Aug. 9, and the Board of Directors was
informed via email today. Gilbert met with the church’s staff and deacons
before mailing a letter to church members.
Calvary’s deacons already have started the
process to find the church’s next spiritual leader. Gilbert said an update
would be given at the church’s Aug. 31 multi-campus celebration.
Gilbert is on his second term on the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive
Committee. Before coming to Calvary, Gilbert
served as special assistant to the president of the International Mission
a Georgia native, has
led Calvary to be a top
giver to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. In the last four years Calvary, along with Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, have
collectively given $4 million to the offering.
recent Baptist Press story reported that Calvary gave $513,679
over 40 years, we’ve been sending short-term teams to the field,” said Steve Hardy,
associate missions pastor at Calvary. “As our
folks go to the field, they see the effects that Lottie Moon giving has in the
ability of our missionaries to do what they’re called to do. When our people
give, they know why they’re giving. They see the direct results of it.”
missions mindset is what attracted attention to Gilbert for this position.
“Al Gilbert brings high energy and real passion for taking the gospel to the
world,” said Larry Wynn, NAMB vice president for evangelism and leadership
development. “He is a leader in SBC life and a
practitioner of loving people to faith in Christ.”
said it was Gilbert’s intentional approach to ministry evangelism that
convinced him and NAMB president Kevin Ezell that Gilbert was the obvious
choice to give direction to Love Loud.
I came to NAMB, Kevin and I started talking about ministry evangelism. The SBC had conducted
a Love Loud initiative, and we thought through what that might look like as an
expansion of ministry evangelism,” said Wynn. “You know you can do ministry,
and then you can do ministry evangelism. Southern Baptists are good at building
bridges, but we don’t always bring the gospel across the bridge. We want to
make sure we are offering hope with the help. Meeting people’s needs in life
events like crises medical situations, crises pregnancy, or adoption opens the
door, but when we offer help in those situations we also need to share hope in
Christ. We need to make sure we do both.
started looking for a practitioner who could help lead Love Loud, and Al was a
natural choice. He has been a pastor, a church planter, a leader in the SBC, and served
with the International Mission Board. He was the perfect fit for us to lead the
team that Kevin has put together. His leadership of Love Loud, both in
evangelistic church plants and with growing the ministry evangelism efforts of
existing churches, will bring true vitality to the work.”
Loud will include many areas of ministry those familiar with evangelism efforts
through NAMB would recognize including medical and dental work, crisis
pregnancy, hunger, and Campers On Mission, among others. Love Loud will also
embrace new work including adoption and foster care ministries.
we dream into the future we may see God lead us into other areas of ministry
evangelism,” said Wynn. “This is certainly not an exhaustive list. For
instance, you may see elements of Love Loud as part of Crossover efforts,
particularly in a city like New Orleans that still has so many needs. You will
also see elements of Love Loud in our church planting efforts. The thought is
not original with me, but church planting is not just about growing a church,
it is about loving a city. Love Loud will help church plants and existing churches
connect with their cities. It would be fair to say that Love Loud is an
expansion of ministry evangelism. We will look to do more than we have ever
done in helping churches love people to Jesus.”
Gilberts have four children and 11 grandchildren.