Ind. Baptists elect Cecil Seagle as new exec

MONTICELLO, Ind. (BP) -- The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana marked two key events in less than a month -- convening their 53rd annual meeting and welcoming Cecil Seagle as the SBCI's sixth executive director.

Messengers to the Oct. 7-8 meeting, held in the new facility of Twin Lakes Baptist Church in Monticello, approved a 2012 budget of $4.33 million. Although a decrease from $4.69 million, the budget nevertheless increased contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program by 1 percent to 37.5 percent. The state convention voted in 2004 to systematically increase its percentage of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to national and international missions causes until the 50/50 level is reached.

Cecil Seagle, then serving as the convention's interim executive director, talked with messengers about current challenges facing Indiana Baptist churches and challenged the convention to look to a great future of working together to impact Indiana.

Less than a month later, on Nov. 1, the convention's Executive Board met in a special called business meeting to hear a recommendation from their executive director search team that Seagle was their choice to be the next SCBI executive director.

Randy Edwards, pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church in Metamora and chair of the search team, read the unanimous recommendation from the search team. Following a question-and-answer time, the board voted 31-3 to approve Seagle during the session at the convention's Highland Lakes Camp.

Seagle, age 72, who began serving as interim executive director in March 2011, directed the Florida Baptist Convention's missions division for 22 years. He succeeds Stephen Davis, who resigned in February to join the North American Mission Board as the Midwest Region vice president.

The search committee told Executive Board members they had considered 12 candidates and interviewed one prior to Seagle but did not sense God leading them to call that candidate. In September, the committee began to consider Seagle and, after much prayer and discussion, unanimously agreed to interview him.

Search team member Ray Deeter, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Evansville, told the board that their checks of Seagle's references convinced them Seagle is "passionate, active, energetic, respected and has a Kingdom mindset." Chris Kellermeyer, pastor of Family Life Community Church in Pendleton, said, "One thing that impressed me is Dr. Seagle's love for Indiana, for our churches and for our pastors. He wants to see what God is doing with our Indiana pastors and churches and to help them." Jim Walls, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlestown, noted, "One thing that impressed us on the search team was how Dr. Seagle came to be the interim, but he was actively involved, wanting to make a difference while he was here." Bobby Pell, pastor of Northwoods Church in Evansville, said, "SCBI has a great new leader in Dr. Cecil Seagle, who can move us into a new day, building on the solid foundation of leadership left before him by Dr. Stephen Davis."

Other search team members were Charlotte Jones, a member of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, and Scott Hobbs, pastor of First Baptist Church in Griffith and current SCBI president. Hobbs said the search team saw three particular qualities in Seagle: 1) he sought the leadership of the Lord, 2) he did not seek the position and 3) he has the passion and experience to take Indiana Baptists to a new day.

Seagle's relationship with Indiana Baptists began in 2003 when Indiana and Florida shared a missions partnership. In 2007, that partnership began to focus on how to impact Indiana's urban centers, culminating in Indianapolis being designated as a "Send City" in the North American Mission Board's new "Send North America" strategy. In that process, Seagle played a key role in developing a vision to reach Indiana for Christ and became increasingly aware of the opportunities and challenges of reaching Indiana with the Gospel.

Seagle told Executive Board members that he and his wife "are overwhelmed by the sense of God's plan and timing."

"Peggie and I are surprised by our Father's grace and by the invitation and support of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana Board to become SCBI's sixth executive director," Seagle said. "What an honor to be considered and invited to lead the Indiana Baptist family. We are determined to love you, serve you and our Father as we join the Indiana Baptist family in reaching Indiana with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. SCBI's future is bright and hopeful. My challenge: Let's determine today to give ourselves fully to those things Jesus loves and did! We can hardly wait to launch out into the deep! By the way, we are quickly being Hooserized!"

The Seagles have two adult sons, both of whom serve as pastors of Southern Baptist churches. The Seagles also have nine grandchildren.

A graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Baptist College of Florida, Seagle has served as pastor of churches in Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and is the author of a book, "Stress in the Life of the Minister."

At the Oct. 7-8 SBCI annual meeting, Scott Hobbs was elected to a second term as convention president, as were Randall Forsythe, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Portage, first vice president; Ken Albert, second vice president, and Sara Burk, recording secretary.

Frank Page, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, preached the convention sermon. The overall spirit of the convention was very positive as messengers and guests were challenged to discover and live out the "Calling" that God has on their lives. Speakers and reports were filled with challenges to reach out to the lost in Indiana and to strengthen churches, plant new churches and impact Indiana with the Gospel.

The 158 messengers and 96 guests at the annual meeting also were greeted by longtime Indiana pastor Ross Terry, Monticello Mayor Jason Thompson and Wabash Valley Association moderator Jeff Lawley, pastor of Remington Baptist Church in Remington.

The convention's 2012 annual meeting will be Oct. 15-16 at Waynedale Baptist Church in Fort Wayne.


Compiled from information submitted by Steven McNeil, mobilization equipping & communication team leader for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana.

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