ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Two
longtime North American Mission Board (NAMB) vice presidents have announced
they will take the voluntary retirement offer NAMB has extended to all staff
members age 54 and older who have at least five years of service.
Richard Harris, vice president of the Sending Missionaries Group and NAMB’s
interim president from August 2009 until mid-September 2010, and Harry Lewis,
vice president of partnership missions and mobilization, will retire Dec. 31.
David Meacham, NAMB’s vice president of associational strategies, retired Oct.
The three will leave the mission board with legacies that span decades and with
plans to continue their ministries in other areas for years to come.
“NAMB and Southern Baptists owe each of these men a debt of gratitude for all
of their faithful years of service,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. “They
have served in many capacities over the years and each leaves a legacy that will
continue far beyond their last day of service to NAMB.”
Harris began work with the Home Mission Board (NAMB’s predecessor) in 1981 in
the area of mass evangelism. In addition to serving in pastorates in Kentucky
and Texas, Harris served in more than 25 interim pastorates in the Atlanta area
before and during his work with HMB/NAMB.
During his 29-year tenure with NAMB, Harris also served as national chairman of
four national evangelism emphases, including “Good News America” and “Here’s
Hope” as well as vice president of church planting from 1997-2007.
“Get yourself where God can use you and He’ll wear you out,” said Harris,
paraphrasing a favorite preacher, Vance Havner.
In his early years, Harris said he sensed God’s call to national ministry,
which was fulfilled with his arrival at the Home Mission Board. There God used
Him to help lead Southern Baptists in evangelism efforts, in providing language
resources for cross-cultural church planting and in raising the standards for
“I’m excited about the future,” Harris said. “When I started out in ministry I
committed to be in the center of God’s will. As long as I’m there I know I’m in
the right place.”
Harris will continue to work with NAMB in the entity’s relationships with
Baptist state conventions. He and his wife Nancy have two sons and five
grandchildren. They plan to stay in the Atlanta area.
Lewis served as a pastor for nearly 20 years. During that time, he also filled
several denominational leadership posts, including serving as a member of the
SBC Executive Committee, president of the California Southern Baptist
Convention and on the board of trustees for Southwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary. He came to NAMB in 1997 to serve as a regional coordinator to develop
missions and evangelism strategies for associations and state conventions in
the Midwest and Canada. Lewis was promoted to NAMB’s vice president of missions
and mobilization in 2007.
“I’m not retiring,” Lewis said. “I’m moving on from NAMB but when God puts a
call on your life, that doesn’t end with a specific assignment.” He and his
wife Shirley will return home to Texas and pursue other ministry opportunities,
particularly in the areas of church health and spiritual awakening.
“I have a real heart for spiritual awakening,” Lewis said. “I believe it’s the
only hope for Southern Baptists. We’ve lost the passion for making disciples as
instructed in Matthew 28:19-20. (Southern Baptists) know what to do but we just
don’t do it, and spiritual awakening will renew the passion to do what we know
we need to do.”
Meacham began work with HMB/NAMB as a church planter and resort missionary in
1975, following five years as a pastor near Riverside, Calif. Before coming to
NAMB in 2008, Meacham served as executive director of the Nevada Baptist
Convention and as an associational missionary in Las Vegas. He joined NAMB
following his tenure as director of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s
Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health.
“The basic mission to impact lostness has not changed since I started in church
planting 35 years ago,” Meacham said. “I think that at all levels of our
denomination the key is for us to help churches be successful in their mission
work, and partnership is something I believe will continue to be important in
Meacham and wife Sue will stay in Cumming, Ga., and serve in teaching and
service roles at Castleberry Road Baptist Church, making frequent visits to
their children and 12 grandchildren in California, Kansas and Tennessee.
Brenda Hendrickson, an
accounting associate at NAMB, started working on the HMB’s bookkeeping staff at
age 18, right out of business college in Knoxville, Tenn.
“I had borrowed the money to
go to school and my loan was due,” Hendrickson said. “I really needed a job.”
She was hired in 1964 by B.M. Crane and has seen many changes.
Hendrickson reimbursed field
personnel, sent money to state conventions and handled other duties — using
manual typewriters, 10-key adding machines, paper filing systems and an office
calculator that required a wheel cart of its own to move from desk to desk.
“It’s been constant change ever since I’ve been here,” said Hendrickson, who
experiences yet more change this December as one of more than 80 staff retiring
from NAMB as part of a voluntary retirement offer extended to all staff members
age 54 and older with at least five years’ service.
Other NAMB staff retiring with more than three decades of service are Cheryl
Williams, Candy Elliot, Marilyn Taylor and Kendale Moore.
“Brenda is one of the most dedicated, loyal and committed employees I’ve ever
worked with,” said NAMB CFO Carlos Ferrer, who has worked with Hendrickson
since 1992. “She pretty much took me by the ears when I got here and started
teaching me. She’s mentored and taught a lot of people on how we do our work in
financial areas. She will be greatly missed.”
With 46 years with HMB/NAMB, Hendrickson is the longest-serving staff member
retiring this month.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to work at the HMB and NAMB. I think I would
have missed a lot if I hadn’t had that opportunity,” Hendrickson said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a
writer for the North American Mission Board.)