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COLUMBIA, Md. (BP) -- Will McRaney, a former Florida Baptist church planting and evangelism strategist and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor, has been elected as executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

With the BCM/D search team "wholeheartedly" recommending him, the convention's General Mission Board voted unanimously Sept. 10 to call McRaney to fill the position vacated by David Lee, who retired from the Columbia, Md.-based convention July 31.

McRaney, 50, sees his new role as an executive missional strategist.

"While there are organizational and legal matters that impact our churches, our primary purpose as churches and the BCM/D is to be on mission in expanding God's Kingdom for His glory," McRaney said. "I am excited about the journey I will share with our churches and their leaders."

Since 2011, McRaney has served as team strategist for Florida Baptists' English-speaking church planting team in Jacksonville, Fla., after previously directing the convention's evangelism strategy department.

McRaney's work "started in evangelism and finalized in church planting -- two of the Florida Baptist Convention's top priorities," John Sullivan, the Florida Baptist Convention's executive director, said. "He has proven to be a wonderful and productive servant of the Lord. He has a great work ethic and a very bright mind. Dr. McRaney will do well in his new assignment leading Maryland-Delaware Baptists. We will miss him."

McRaney returned to field ministry in his native Florida after weathering Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans Seminary, where he had served as professor of evangelism, occupying the Max and Bonnie Thornhill Chair of Evangelism from 2001-2007 and the Cecil B. Day Chair of Church Planting from 1996-2000. He taught multiple evangelism and church planting courses for master of divinity students as well as professional and research doctoral candidates.

Originally from Dade City, Fla., McRaney is the cofounder and senior consultant for the Ministry Enhancement Group, which works to increase the effectiveness of Christian leaders, church planters and churches by providing biblically-based and cutting-edge methods, strategies and training for the church of the 21st century.

A church planter assessor and training system designer, McRaney has researched, written about and spoken extensively on personal and church evangelism, church growth and health, church planting, leadership, revitalization, church models, postmodernism and cultural trends.

McRaney created "Love Your Neighbor -- Share Christ," a church evangelism strategy design model to assist churches in designing a holistic model for evangelism in any context. This model, which addresses the major challenges of evangelism, has helped boost evangelistic efforts in Asia, India, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and across Florida, among other places. He described it as "the greatest overall contribution the Lord has led to make to date."

It was during the development of the Love Your Neighbor model that McRaney was in a life-threatening head-on car accident with a drunk driver. He suffered critical injuries, including broken legs and a broken arm, but has since made a full recovery.

McRaney has written several books, including "The Choice: Life's Most Important Decisions -- 40 Day Experience," published by LifeWay Christian Resources, 2005, and the widely used "The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Christ in a Changing Culture," published by Broadman & Holman, 2003.

McRaney also has experience in the local church, as founding pastor of Life Church in Mandeville, La., 1997-99; lead pastor at Daybreak Community Church in Littleton, Colo., 1992-1996; and pastor of Jackson Avenue Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Miss., 1987-1991.

The first time McRaney ever preached outside of his home church was at First Baptist Church in Moss Point, Miss., in March 1987. A seminary student at the time, McRaney was filling in for David Lee, who was serving there as pastor.

McRaney earned two degrees from New Orleans Seminary: a doctor of philosophy degree in evangelism and discipleship in 1992 and a master of divinity degree in biblical studies in 1989. He earned a bachelor of arts in business administration from Mississippi State University, where he played both football and baseball.

He has also served as adjunct professor of evangelism and church planting at Liberty Baptist Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., and as adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and Colorado Christian University.

He and his wife Sandy have three children, Blakeney, Hadley and Macy.

When asked about his initial thoughts about the future, McRaney said, "Sandy and I are looking forward to seeing the hand of the Lord move in our churches and across Maryland and Delaware in the coming years."

"It is a brand new day for Maryland/Delaware Baptists," said Bob Simpson, BCM/D's associate executive director and chief operations officer. "We are grateful to God for leading us to Will and Sandy McRaney," "They will bring new energy and fresh eyes to help us amplify our impact in this region. We are praying for them as they make their transition."

Members of the BCM/D search team were Charlie Brown, associate pastor of Dunkirk (Md.) Baptist Church and BCM/D president; Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md.; past convention president Ken Stalls, pastor of South End Baptist Church in Frederick, Md.; Bernard Fuller, pastor of New Song Bible Fellowship in Bowie, Md.; and Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale (Md.) Baptist Church.

Shannon Baker is a national correspondent for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Copyright (c) 2013 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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