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New NAMB role seeks to boost ethnic involvement
Mike Ebert, Baptist Press
August 09, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

New NAMB role seeks to boost ethnic involvement

New NAMB role seeks to boost ethnic involvement
Mike Ebert, Baptist Press
August 09, 2011

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A new role created by the North American

Mission Board (NAMB) will help the entity maintain a strong focus on minority

ministry needs and facilitate leadership opportunities for minorities

throughout Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)

life.

NAMB president Kevin Ezell created the role of presidential ambassador for ethnic

church relations shortly after messengers at the SBC

in Phoenix voted to approve a

recommendation citing the “need to be proactive and intentional in the inclusion

of individuals from all ethnic and racial identities within Southern Baptist

life.”

Ezell has named Ken Weathersby to fill the role.

“I think messengers sent a clear signal in Phoenix

that they want to see a broader spectrum of ethnic involvement in the SBC,”

Ezell said. “This new role will help facilitate that.”

Ken Weathersby is NAMB’s new presidential ambassador for ethnic church relations.

Weathersby most recently served as associate vice president for ethnic

mobilization at NAMB. He has previously served in leadership positions in NAMB’s

church planting and evangelism areas as well. He has also served in an

evangelism leadership role with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and pastored

churches in Baton Rouge, La.,

and Cincinnati.

“All of us need to be doing whatever it takes — as our president, Kevin Ezell,

says — to reach all peoples,” Weathersby said. “So I’m asking ‘How can we

strengthen what we’re doing? How can we plant more churches? How can we show we

value everyone and that we all need to work cooperatively?’”

Weathersby’s role will be fully funded by NAMB, but he will spend part of his

time working with the SBC Executive

Committee as it seeks to implement recommendations made by the Executive

Committee’s ethnic study workgroup regarding ethnic involvement in SBC

life.

Based on a motion presented at the 2009 SBC

annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.,

the Executive Committee workgroup examined “how ethnic churches and ethnic

church leaders can be more actively involved in serving the needs of the SBC

through cooperative partnership on the national level.”

On Feb. 22, the Executive Committee approved a 10-part recommendation that was

presented at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in June. Messengers

voted overwhelmingly in favor of the recommendations that asked for greater

accountability regarding increased diversity in leadership and participation of

ethnics in the SBC.

“I am so excited about this joint endeavor with NAMB in which we will encourage

our ethnic brothers and sisters to new levels of cooperation and mission

involvement,” said Frank Page, president and CEO of the Executive Committee.

“Ken Weathersby is a dear friend and a man whom I respect deeply,” Page said. “He

is uniquely qualified for this position and I will enjoy every moment of

working with him.

“Having worked with him at the North American Mission Board, I know his heart

and his ability. This is a win-win for Southern Baptists!”

Weathersby says a key part of his role will be to forge and strengthen

relationships with Southern Baptist ethnic fellowships. He hopes that will lead

to more ethnic involvement in SBC life.

“As we have more involvement, hopefully we will have more ownership,” Weathersby

said. “That includes responsibility and accountability. Promoting our missions

offerings and the Cooperative Program and holding up the value of our

missionaries — all of these are part of our responsibilities.”

Since NAMB’s formation in 1997, the entity has led Southern Baptists to place

an emphasis on ethnic church planting. More than half of all SBC

churches planted or affiliated with the SBC

since 1997 have been African-American or ethnic.

“NAMB will not take a step back from ethnic church planting,” Ezell said. “At

the same time, we are asking our ethnic churches to take a step up in

supporting the Cooperative Program and our missions offerings.”

Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist

Church in Cambridge,

Mass., made the motion in 2009 which called

on the SBC to study how ethnic churches and

leaders could play a larger role in SBC

life.

Kim said he was “very pleased” to hear of the creation of the new position and

Weathersby’s appointment to it. He said it “demonstrates a commitment from the SBC”

to the historic “Affirmation of Unity and Cooperation” document signed by

entity leaders, state executives and ethnic fellowship leaders at the Executive

Committee meeting June 13 and presented to messengers during the Executive

Committee report at the SBC annual meeting.

“It will be the beginning of a journey … to work together as equal partners

for His kingdom to strengthen our beloved denomination, which has a rich

spiritual heritage in its history rooted on the bedrock of missions,” Kim said.

With NAMB’s new Send North America church planting focus and IMB’s new

assignment to assist in reaching people groups in North America,

Weathersby believes the timing of his new role is opportune.

“It’s an appropriate time for Southern Baptists to continue to highlight the

importance of reaching all people with the Gospel and having all ethnic

representation in the convention,” he said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ebert is vice president for communications at the North

American Mission Board.)