IMB appoints Georgia Baptist missionary, 18 others


RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — International Mission Board trustees appointed 19 new missionaries for service around the globe during their Feb. 6-7 meeting in Richmond, Va.

Natalie Samford*, a Georgia Baptist, was one of the missionaries appointed. Sent by Clarkston International Bible Church, she will be serving among Central Asian peoples.

Trustees approved the appointment of 19 new full-time, fully funded missionaries, who were honored during a Sending Celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond. The service included a formal installation of Paul Chitwood as IMB's 13th president.

Susan and Todd Lafferty (left) share a warm greeting with IMB President Emeritus Jerry Rankin and his wife, Bobbye, following the IMB trustees’ plenary session Feb. 7 in Richmond, Va. Lafferty was unanimously elected as the IMB’s executive vice president during the session. CHRIS CARTER/IMB

In addition, trustees unanimously elected Todd Lafferty as the 173-year-old entity's executive vice president; affirmed Roger Alford as vice president of communication; and recognized 48 emeriti in memoriam.

Lafferty, 59, most recently has served as pastor of mobilization for Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He and his wife Susan previously served with the IMB for nearly 29 years. See related Baptist Press story.

Trustees also affirmed Chitwood’s selection of Roger Alford to fill a newly created role of vice president for communications. The role is designed to build and maintain an optimum communications approach, operation, and staff to best serve the needs of IMB and the SBC. Alford will begin serving alongside the existing senior leadership team in March.

IMB trustee David Miller (right), from Tennessee, greets Roger Alford (left), who will begin serving as IMB vice president of communication in March. CHRIS CARTER/IMB

Clyde Meador, former interim IMB president, recognized the lives of 57 former colleagues —  including seven staff, two current missionaries, and 48 emeritus missionaries —  who died in the past year. The field personnel's lives totaled 1,365 years of service through the IMB, with an average age of 88.5 and an average of 28 years of service.

In his first presidential report to trustees, Chitwood stated he has a growing gratitude to Southern Baptists for their faithful giving and support of their International Mission Board.

"Cooperating churches with 10 members to those with more than 10,000 members, local associations of a handful of churches to those with hundreds of churches, state conventions with 100 churches and those with thousands of churches, and SBC entities with budgets of a few million to those with budgets of hundreds of millions: this is the beauty and the brilliance of the Southern Baptist system of cooperative missions," he said.

In his first presidential report to IMB trustees on Feb. 7 in Richmond, IMB President Paul Chitwood states that he has a growing gratitude to Southern Baptists for their faithful giving and support of their International Mission Board. CHRIS CARTER/IMB

Chitwood continued, "It is a system that today maintains an overseas force of more than 3,600 missionaries serving in more than 100 countries. The Gospel will be heard today where it would not have been heard if it weren't for Southern Baptists making and keeping a commitment to cooperate together."

The next IMB board of trustees meeting is scheduled for May 22-23 in Richmond. The next missionary Sending Celebration is scheduled for June 11 during the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham.

*name changed for security purposes

IMB, IMB commissioning, Paul Chitwood