99 leaving NAMB as part of downsizing

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--One-third of the North American Mission Board's staff will be leaving at the end of the year as a result of retirement incentives and other downsizing of the Southern Baptist entity. On Friday, Dec. 10, NAMB recognized retirees who are taking advantage of incentives offered at the beginning of October.

"These individuals have served NAMB and Southern Baptists in outstanding ways over the years," NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. "We appreciate everything they have done to further God's Kingdom and the impact of their work will continue for years to come."

Of the total of 99 people leaving, 81 are taking an early retirement package Ezell announced Oct. 1. Employees aged 54 and older were eligible for the package.

In addition to incentives offered by NAMB, retiring employees also were able to lock in to a higher annuity rate through Guidestone Financial Resources. The Southern Baptist financial services provider announced over the summer that the floor on its annuitized rates would drop from the current 6 percent to somewhere between 3 to 4 percent.

Anticipating a lower number of people in the building due to retirements, NAMB also trimmed a number of services and support staff positions. These additional reductions brought the total number of year-end departures to 99.

Carlos Ferrer, NAMB's chief financial officer who also serves as vice president overseeing human resources and other services functions, said the entity is providing support for those in transition.

"The package we are giving to those who are departing is as generous as we could make it," Ferrer said. "In addition, we are providing the services of a Christian job placement company to assist those who are seeking further employment."

Ferrer added that "those leaving are our longtime friends and co-laborers and we are committed to helping them make this transition as smoothly as possible."

At a Nov. 16 missionary commissioning service in Texas, Ezell stated, "As we go through changes, absolutely every change we make and every reduction we make is to put more missionaries in the field."

In October, Ezell told NAMB's board of trustees he is undertaking a four-step process: re-focus NAMB; build a strategy; develop the staff necessary to execute the strategy; and implement the strategy. The downsizing is part of a re-focus effort that will narrow the number of activities the entity undertakes.

"I have the very strong conviction that NAMB has been trying to do too much in too many different arenas," Ezell stated in a Nov. 22 e-mail to the executive directors of state Baptist conventions.

NAMB trustees also announced in October the formation of a "vision" committee that will work with Ezell through the strategy building and implementation process. That committee, now referred to as the implementation committee, consists of five members: Joey T. Anthony, pastor of Midway Baptist Church in Phenix, Va.; Stephen E. Hogan, pastor of Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; Steven D. Holdaway, pastor of LifeSpring Church in Bellevue, Neb.; Donna C. Medcalf, member of Edwards Road Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C.; and David Self, executive pastor of First Baptist Church Houston, Texas.

The Georgia Christian Index reported Dec. 9 that Lester L. Cooper Jr., pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Cumming, Ga., had resigned from NAMB's board of trustees reportedly in disagreement with the reduction in senior staff. A NAMB spokesman additionally noted in an e-mail to board chairman Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., Cooper said he wanted to focus more of his time on his church.

In a podcast posted by NAMB on Monday, Dec. 13, Ezell said he is working closely with state convention executive directors to develop NAMB's new direction and that the process is moving as quickly as possible.

"I cannot get in a cubicle and come up with this answer myself and come out and try and sell it," Ezell said. "I really think the best way ... is getting everyone around the table and saying, 'Hey, how can we do this together?'"


To listen to or download the podcast featuring NAMB President Kevin Ezell, visit www.namb.net/nambpodcast.

Download Story