The action came during the Fellowship of State Executive Directors annual meeting, Feb. 13-16 in Scottsdale, Ariz. State executive directors meet each year for fellowship and to discuss issues related to Baptist state convention work.
The name of the state executives' special committee is "A Study Committee on Implementation of NAMB Initiatives with State Conventions."
Emil Turner, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and president of the fellowship for 2011-12, said the committee was established "to evaluate how state conventions and NAMB can maximize cooperation during the transition process of implementing the new NAMB initiatives."
Announced in 2011, NAMB's Send North America strategy focuses heavily on church planting and shifting funds to the field for church planting.
Members of the committee are David Hankins, chairman, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention; Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Cecil Seagle, executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana; Mark Edlund, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention; Bob Mills, executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists; and Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Some state convention leaders have expressed concerns about what their relationships with NAMB will look like as historic "cooperative agreements" are replaced with new "strategic partnerships" with state conventions. The Southern Baptist entity has used cooperative agreements with states to support and define its work and to assist in the furtherance of domestic mission work.
Turner said the study committee is important to evaluating and understanding the future work of state conventions with NAMB.
"I think this study committee can help get beyond anecdotal reports about difficulties that new work conventions face and arrive at quantifiable conclusions," Turner said. "The desire is to cooperate with NAMB in a way that helps strengthen new work conventions."
Turner added, "Executive directors in all the state conventions have appreciated the spirit evidenced by Dr. (Kevin) Ezell (president of NAMB) as he has worked with us. This should be a positive and productive process that strengthens our work together."
Following the establishment of the committee, Turner said he contacted Ezell to reassure him the action "is not to be or do anything adversarial, but to seek understanding and cooperation."
It is the desire of the state executive directors' group that NAMB trustees be involved in discussions as well, Turner said.
"The focus of our concern is the cooperation of NAMB and state conventions," Turner told Ezell. "I believe this will be a good thing and expect it to proceed in a friendly and collaborative manner. Thank you for your hard work for the SBC and for the Kingdom."
Mike Ebert, NAMB's vice president of communications, said it is NAMB's "desire to be good partners with our state conventions," adding, " are always open to anything that would move us toward penetrating lostness in North America. We are ultimately accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention through the NAMB trustees, and we are confident in the direction in which we are moving."
Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News, newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
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