State convention CEOs usually stay for a long stretch, so in my 37 years as a pastor or semi-retired pastor I’ve only been around for three changeovers of state convention leadership. Yesterday I attended one of the “listening sessions” held by the new Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., former NAMB staffer, big church pastor, former prez of the GBMB, and trustee of a bunch of significant SBC and GBMB entities.
“What do we call you,” one attendee asked.
“Call me Tommy,” he said with an avuncular and casual air. I like him already.
My state convention is one of the largest with over a billion dollars in church total receipts and over $16 million in gifts to both the Cooperative Program allocation budget and the special offerings and designated gifts through the Executive Committee.
We are also a state that saw a budget shortfall of over one million dollars in CP receipts for the last full year. More importantly baptisms in Georgia have declined for at least ten consecutive years and that at a time when the state’s population has grown significantly. I am uncertain if the state convention at its best can do much to change these trends.
There are a dozen of these “listening sessions” scheduled around the state this month and next where he can get an earfull and where he can offer some indication of his own personality and thinking.
It’s no secret that there’s a pot full of Georgia Baptist CP money being spent by the GBMB without much to show for it. Hammond did offer one eyebrow raiser when he said that “activity is not accomplishment.” Here in Georgia we are masters of the former while the latter is a bit of a stranger to us. I was a bit surprised, pleasantly so, by his candor and his wry sense of humor.
Let’s see where we go. Not that my humble opinion from the semi-reitred hinterlands counts for much around here but he has my prayers and support.
That’s our building in the photo. I put it here because I don’t think you will find it on the GBMB website. It’s been somewhat of a trigger for critics but it is Muy Magnifico (Georgia has about a million hispanic residents now). First thing our new leader said, “We’re going to sell the building” repeating a commitment made a few years ago. No big fire sale rush about it, though. It is an appreciating asset and highly valuable. Pot full of money to be spent when it is sold.