LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Paul Chitwood was elected as executive
director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) by the KBC Mission
Board June 2 by an 88-7 ballot vote.
Envisioning the executive’s role as “a great opportunity to be a pastor to
pastors” and to be an encourager to Kentucky Baptists, Chitwood told the
Western Recorder, newsjournal of the state convention, that his desire is to be
“a blessing to the churches and to build them up.”
Chitwood, 41, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Washington, Ky., since
2003, was presented to the Mission Board by search committee chairman Paul
Badgett of Pikeville.
The committee, he said, sought a candidate with the right
character and chemistry as well as competence.
“We found that in Dr. Paul Harrison Chitwood,” Badgett said, noting that
Chitwood has been a trustee of the International Mission Board, an assistant
professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary and an adjunct professor at University of the Cumberlands.
A native of Jellico, Tenn., Chitwood has served as pastor of four Kentucky
congregations. He also has been a convention president and first vice
president, and he has served as president of the KBC Pastors’ Conference.
Prior to his election, Chitwood addressed the board briefly, sharing that one
of his priorities would be church planting.
“Seeing the number of churches that are closing and actually outpacing those
that are starting across the country, I think there is a great opportunity
there,” he said.
Chitwood also said he sees an opportunity for relationship building and
promoting greater cooperation between the convention’s staff and KBC pastors.
Another role Chitwood said he would embrace is strengthening the partnership
between the convention and its universities and entities.
“Serving as a trustee for the University of Cumberlands and as a faculty member
at Southern Seminary has provided some opportunities to think about the great
potential for stronger partnership that lies there,” he said.
In response to a question about his theological perspective, Chitwood
responded, “I am a Bible-believing Southern Baptist. I believe God’s Word is
true, inerrant,” adding also that he is “perfectly comfortable” in affirming
all versions of the Baptist Faith and Message.
More specifically, in regard to his views on Calvinism, Chitwood said, “I
really think that that issue is needlessly a point of controversy.
“I really believe on that issue what we find in Scripture is a tension between
human responsibility and human free will and the absolute sovereignty of God,”
he added. “My personal theology allows for that tension.”
Of greater concern, he said, is that Kentucky Baptists allow for a difference
of opinion on matters that Scripture holds in tension.
Urging Kentucky Baptists to be “a big tent convention,” Chitwood said every
tent needs stakes to keep from being blown about by the wind. For him, those
stakes include the Word of God, the Baptist Faith and Message, cooperation and
the Great Commission, he said.
“With those four stakes, the Kentucky Baptists can be a big tent. And it can be
a big tent that honors God and allows us to work together with enthusiasm,” he
As for his support of the Cooperative Program, Chitwood explained that at his
two previous pastorates, the congregations contributed more than 20 percent of
their undesignated gifts through CP. At First Baptist Mount Washington, members
have embraced a plan to steadily increase CP giving to 10 percent, he said. The
church currently gives approximately 8.5 percent and is moving toward 9 percent
in the coming budget year.
“While there is room in our convention for anyone who is willing to cooperate
at any level,” Chitwood said, “I do believe the leaders of our convention need
to lead by example.”
As IMB trustee chairman, Chitwood was a strong proponent of changing the
Cooperative Program allocation formula to allow more funding to send more
overseas missionaries. At last year’s KBC annual meeting, he spoke in favor of
the Kentucky Great Commission Task Force’s recommendation to move toward a
50/50 split of CP receipts between the Southern Baptist Convention and the KBC.
“The decision has already been made by the Kentucky Baptist Convention with
regard to the division of funds,” Chitwood told the Western Recorder. “So, now
it is the responsibility of the executive director and the staff here to carry
out the will of convention with regard to the percentage that will go on to SBC
causes, and to be the best stewards we can of the resources that are entrusted
to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“I think we can do that best by celebrating — not lamenting — what God is doing
with Cooperative Program funds,” he said.
Chitwood will begin duties as executive director July 1.