Above: IMB President Emeritus Jerry Rankin jokingly asked for a vest that matched the one Paul Chitwood and Chuck Pourciau were wearing. Chitwood immediately presented him with a vest they intended to give him later. Rankin served the IMB for 40 years, 17 years as president. IMB Photo

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)—International Mission Board (IMB) trustees approved 92 fully funded missionaries for appointment during their May 17-18 meeting in Richmond. Missionaries approved for appointment will be recognized during a Sending Celebration on Tuesday, June 13, at 9:50 a.m. CDT in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans, La. The event will be livestreamed at sbcannualmeeting.net.

IMB trustees Nate Bishop and Doug Melton take time to visit during the May 2023 IMB trustee meeting. Many trustees only see each other in person when the board meets. IMB Photo

Trustees gave a warm welcome to IMB President Emeritus Jerry Rankin, who was president for 17 years and served a total of 40 years with the IMB. Having traveled to 157 countries, Rankin said that his most notable impression was watching the “awesome providence of God moving to fulfill His mission.”

He challenged trustees by asking, “For what purpose are you a part of this group?” Noting the significant advances to sharing the Gospel seen in present times, he urged trustees to lead with vision, focus and passion.

“Don’t be diverted. Don’t be distracted. Never lose that passion,” Rankin said. “Lead Southern Baptists to fulfill the Great Commission.”

President’s report

Kalaishi Johnson, IMB trustee from Mississippi, speaks with other trustees and IMB staff during a break from the IMB trustee meeting near Richmond, Virginia. IMB President Emeritus Jerry Rankin recognized Johnson as one of the college students he taught and encouraged toward missions involvement. IMB Photo

IMB President Paul Chitwood began his report by noting the “good days” that the IMB is experiencing as it prepares to send new missionaries while celebrating the 1,244 combined years of service of recently retired missionaries.

Chitwood, who is halfway through his fifth year as IMB president, reported advances in many systems such as communications, donor relations, church connections, alumni relations and protection against abuse and abusers. He noted that these advancements are leading toward IMB’s strategic objectives. He shared the following updates:

  • The candidate pipeline is now at 1,200and has the IMB positioned to see growth in missionary headcount.
  • The number of global missionary partners serving on IMB teams is expected to surpass 100 in the next few weeks.
  • The objective for a comprehensive strategy to engage 75 global cities is ahead of schedule. Fifty global cities will have strategies in place by the end of the year.
  • The IMB is expecting another strong financial year, that will likely come second only to last year’s all-time high.

Newly elected IMB trustee officers for 2023-24 are Keith Evans, chairman, Nate Bishop, first vice chair, Carol Pfeiffer, second vice chair, and Trudy Crittendon, recording secretary. IMB Photo

Missionary personnel have contacted 85 percent of Southern Baptist churches and, along with the mobilization team, are strengthening relationships with churches that are supporting the IMB.

Chitwood drew attention to the 2022 Annual Statistical Report that is available to the public.

“We celebrate the ongoing impact of Southern Baptists upon the nations,” he said, “rejoicing that 728,000 people heard the Gospel, 178,000 responded by trusting Christ for salvation, and 102,000 followed through with believer’s baptism.”

He added, “This is the beauty of our cooperative missions model and a legacy of 178 years. Every church that gives through the Cooperative Program can celebrate being a part of seeing hundreds of new churches planted in North America and 21,000 new churches around the world.”

“My prayer is that every Southern Baptist church would count every IMB missionary as their own and celebrate their church’s role in the advance of the gospel around the world,” he concluded.

Continuing business

Outgoing trustee officers, Lisa Lovell, first vice chair, and Chuck Pourciau, chairman from Louisiana, completed their terms of service on IMB’s board of trustees. Ten trustees were recognized for their completed terms. IMB Photo

Standing committees provided reports regarding administration, global engagement, human resources, LFTT (logistics, finance, technology, travel), mobilization and training.

Trustee chairman Chuck Pourciau from Louisiana led the election of officers for the coming year. The board elected Keith Evans of Washington and the Northwest Baptist Convention as the incoming trustee chairman. Evans is pastor of Resonate Church based in Pullman, Wash., and pastor ambassador for the North American Mission Board for six western states.

Trustees also elected: Nate Bishop of Kentucky, first vice chair; Carol Pfeiffer of Texas, second vice chair; and Trudy Crittendon of South Carolina, recording secretary.

Chitwood thanked trustees completing their terms of service and affirmed their continuing advocacy in the Great Commission task. Trustees recognized included: (2019-2023) Jim Barnhart – Missouri; (2019-2023) Glenn Steen – South Carolina; (2015-2023) Deron Biles – Texas; (2015-2023) Ken Gross – California; (2015-2023) Morgan Kerr – Georgia; (2015-2023) Lisa Lovell – Arkansas; (2015-2023) Ron Phillips – Texas; (2015-2023) John Waters – Georgia; (2014-2023) Andy Davis – North Carolina; and (2014-2023) Chuck Pourciau – Louisiana.

Reflecting on his time as an IMB trustee and as chairman of the presidential search committee who presented Paul Chitwood as the presidential candidate in 2018, Pourciau urged trustees to follow current leadership and guard the focus of the IMB.

“Take care of him,” Pourciau said, motioning to Chitwood. “Love your missionaries. Love the staff. Enable the work that God wants to do.”

Keith Evans adjourned the meeting with prayer. The next IMB board of trustees meeting will be Sept. 25 in Richmond, Va.