As one reflects on the past year, it is not only important events that come to mind. Specific people – especially leaders – are often at the center of significant events, leading in unique ways. Reflecting on the year is also an appropriate time to remember those who have passed away.
These Southern Baptist figures stood out for their unique leadership in a year filled with uncertainty.
Milton Hollifield: Celebrating 10 years
The Biblical Recorder dedicated eight pages of the April 9, 2016 issue to recognize Milton Hollifield’s 10th anniversary as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He was elected and installed in a called meeting of the convention April 11, 2006. When Hollifield stepped into the leadership role, North Carolina Baptists were dealing with a lot of division. He has met and exceeded expectations.
Franklin Graham leads 50-state Decision Tour
Placing prayer on his priority list, Franklin Graham announced April 14 that he would travel to all 50 states in 2016 to conduct prayer rallies. Called the “Decision America Tour,” the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse said the only hope for the United States is “Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ.” Graham capped the months-long tour with a record-breaking rally in Raleigh on Oct. 13.
Steve Gaines accepts SBC presidency
Following a runoff vote that didn’t produce a winner, North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear announced June 15 he would withdraw from the race for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) during the annual meeting. Greear’s decision – in an effort to help bring unity after a close vote – avoided a second runoff and left Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines elected by acclamation as president of the SBC. Gaines humbly accepted.
Parliamentarians take center stage during SBC election
SBC parliamentarians normally work behind the scenes at the annual meeting, but their expertise took center stage as debate arose over the vote tallying procedure when the presidential election led to a runoff that failed to name a winner. Chief Parliamentarian Barry McCarty explained the voting policies and procedures to messengers. Amy Whitfield served as the SBC’s first female parliamentarian in 2016.
David Platt steers IMB, endures criticism
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), led the organization through a difficult budget recovery plan that began in 2015 to counteract years of deficit spending. Platt was faced with tough decisions and criticism from fellow Southern Baptists over the austerity measures. IMB announced in late 2016 that it would be sending more missionaries to the field and a balanced budget had been approved for 2017.
The Biblical Recorder remembers the lives of many who died in 2016.
Clifford Burton “Cliff” Barrows, who served as music director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for many years, died Nov. 15 in Pineville, N.C., after a brief illness. He was 93.
Jerry Bridges, influential author of The Pursuit of Holiness and longtime speaker with The Navigators ministry, died March 6 at the age of 86.
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, a stalwart leader of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative wing for nearly three decades, died Feb. 13 at age 79.
Richard G. Hicks, 75, died July 28. Hicks was a longtime pastor in North Carolina churches and graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible College and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Pals family
A missionary family from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis died July 31 in a car crash. Jamison and Kathryne Pals were 29; their three children, Ezra, Violet and Calvin, were ages 4 years to 2 months.
Charles C. Ryrie, a scholar whose name abounds on Ryrie Study Bible editions with more than 2.6 million in print in multiple languages, died Feb. 16 in Dallas at age 90.
Tim LaHaye, author of the best selling Left Behind novels who helped stir a national interest in end-times prophecy, died July 25 of a stroke. He was 90.
Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative group Eagle Forum who was known for her decades-long advocacy on behalf of the traditional family, died Sept. 5. She was 92.
William Mills died Jan. 2 at 89 years old. Mills was a WWII veteran and graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served many churches in North Carolina for more than 55 years.
The BR staff would like to recognize all missionaries that passed away in 2016, men and women of whom this world is not worthy.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15