Envisioning the executive's role as "a great opportunity to be a pastor to pastors" and to be an encourager to Kentucky Baptists, Chitwood told the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the state convention, that his desire is to be "a blessing to the churches and to build them up."
Chitwood, 41, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Washington, Ky., since 2003, was presented to the Mission Board by search committee chairman Paul Badgett of Pikeville. The committee, he said, sought a candidate with the right character and chemistry as well as competence.
"We found that in Dr. Paul Harrison Chitwood," Badgett said, noting that Chitwood has been a trustee of the International Mission Board, an assistant professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor at University of the Cumberlands.
A native of Jellico, Tenn., Chitwood has served as pastor of four Kentucky congregations. He also has been a convention president and first vice president, and he has served as president of the KBC Pastors' Conference.
Prior to his election, Chitwood addressed the board briefly, sharing that one of his priorities would be church planting.
"Seeing the number of churches that are closing and actually outpacing those that are starting across the country, I think there is a great opportunity there," he said.
Chitwood also said he sees an opportunity for relationship building and promoting greater cooperation between the convention's staff and KBC pastors.
Another role Chitwood said he would embrace is strengthening the partnership between the convention and its universities and entities.
"Serving as a trustee for the University of Cumberlands and as a faculty member at Southern Seminary has provided some opportunities to think about the great potential for stronger partnership that lies there," he said.
In response to a question about his theological perspective, Chitwood responded, "I am a Bible-believing Southern Baptist. I believe God's Word is true, inerrant," adding also that he is "perfectly comfortable" in affirming all versions of the Baptist Faith and Message.
More specifically, in regard to his views on Calvinism, Chitwood said, "I really think that that issue is needlessly a point of controversy.
"I really believe on that issue what we find in Scripture is a tension between human responsibility and human free will and the absolute sovereignty of God," he added. "My personal theology allows for that tension."
Of greater concern, he said, is that Kentucky Baptists allow for a difference of opinion on matters that Scripture holds in tension.
Urging Kentucky Baptists to be "a big tent convention," Chitwood said every tent needs stakes to keep from being blown about by the wind. For him, those stakes include the Word of God, the Baptist Faith and Message, cooperation and the Great Commission, he said.
"With those four stakes, the Kentucky Baptists can be a big tent. And it can be a big tent that honors God and allows us to work together with enthusiasm," he said.
As for his support of the Cooperative Program, Chitwood explained that at his two previous pastorates, the congregations contributed more than 20 percent of their undesignated gifts through CP. At First Baptist Mount Washington, members have embraced a plan to steadily increase CP giving to 10 percent, he said. The church currently gives approximately 8.5 percent and is moving toward 9 percent in the coming budget year.
"While there is room in our convention for anyone who is willing to cooperate at any level," Chitwood said, "I do believe the leaders of our convention need to lead by example."
As IMB trustee chairman, Chitwood was a strong proponent of changing the Cooperative Program allocation formula to allow more funding to send more overseas missionaries. At last year's KBC annual meeting, he spoke in favor of the Kentucky Great Commission Task Force's recommendation to move toward a 50/50 split of CP receipts between the Southern Baptist Convention and the KBC.
"The decision has already been made by the Kentucky Baptist Convention with regard to the division of funds," Chitwood told the Western Recorder. "So, now it is the responsibility of the executive director and the staff here to carry out the will of convention with regard to the percentage that will go on to SBC causes, and to be the best stewards we can of the resources that are entrusted to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
"I think we can do that best by celebrating -- not lamenting -- what God is doing with Cooperative Program funds," he said.
Chitwood will begin duties as executive director July 1. To read the Baptist Press article on Chitwood's nomination, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=35364.
LIFEWAY'S HISPANIC RESOURCES HONORED -- The B&H Publishing Group, the trade publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, received several awards at the Expolit Latino Convention, an annual conference and expo focusing on the growth of ministry and resources within Hispanic markets.
The awards received by B&H during Expolit's May 19-23 sessions in Miami included:
-- "El Desafio del Amor" (Love Dare), which received the Harold Kregel book of the year award for the second year.
-- A Platinum Award for Love Dare.
-- "Biblia premios y regalos," RVR 1960 -- the Text Bibles Award.
-- "Biblia de estudio Arco Iris," RVR 1960 -- the Study Bibles Award.
-- "Biblia letra grande tamano manual," RVR 1960 -- the Specialized Bibles Award.
In addition, B&H received the catalog award for Vive tu Fe 2010-2011 catalog.
"Ministry to the Spanish-speaking community is a significant focus for B&H, so to be honored for our work is a wonderful affirmation," said Selma Wilson, vice president for B&H Publishing Group. "Our team at B&H is committed to be a global leader and innovator in producing books, Bibles and digital resources that impact entire cultures for Christ, and it is a joy to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters."
FREE 'MILLENNIALS' DOWNLOAD -- The Millennials -- 78 million Americans born between 1980 and 2000, arguably the largest generation in the nation's history -- are shaping the American culture of the first half of the 21st century.
Starting at noon today, June 6, a free copy of "The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation" (B&H Publishing Group) by Thom and Jess Rainer can be downloaded through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore and CBD (Christian Book Distributor).
Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, and his son Jess, a banking professional and Millennial born in 1985, worked together on the comprehensive research project.
The free download will available through noon, June 20. In addition, B&H is in the process of launching a free Millennials app.
Research for the Rainers' Millennials project began in June 2009, encompassing 1,200 interviews of older Millennials born between 1980 and 1991. Among their findings:
-- Millennials and marriage: They are marrying much later, if at all. In 1970, about 44 percent of 18-25-year-old Boomers were married. Today, only 15 percent of Millennials in that age group are married.
-- Millennials and the workplace: 84 percent of Millennials say that job success is important. However, they want to have fun with their coworkers on the job, and they see the need for balance between work and life.
-- Millennials and money: The Boomers indulged. Gen X went over their heads in debt. The Millennials might be the first generation to have a balanced view of money since the United States became an economic power. But many of them are confused about their finances.
-- Millennials and religion: They are the least religious generation in American history. Only 13 percent of Millennials considered any type of spirituality to be important in their lives; most don't think about religion at all.
Based on reports by Todd Deaton, editor of the Western Recorder; Baptist Press associate editor Michael Foust; Ashley Stephens of Woman's Missionary Union; and the communications office of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net