The IMB Moving On

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

While we are having no second thoughts regarding the decision to retire last year, it is gratifying to stay connected with the staff and work of the International Mission Board and to celebrate the continuing commitment to our global mission task.

It was a privilege to participate in the inauguration of Dr. Tom Elliff as my successor as president of the IMB in Richmond last week. Although he was elected and assumed leadership last March, this official installation was held in conjunction with the November board meeting and semi-annual gathering of overseas affinity group leaders. Held at Grove Avenue Baptist Church, the event was a time of reunion with many friends and members of our home church for 17 years as well as many SBC dignitaries who gathered for the occasion.

Tom and I were seminary classmates and have been friends over the years as he and Jeannie served for a short time as missionaries in Zimbabwe and we had been involved in appointing two of their daughters at missionaries. After a notable career as pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Denver and for 20 years at First Southern Del City, Oklahoma, Tom served on my executive staff as Senior Vice-President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations. Having served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, he has the respect and influence to lead Southern Baptists to a greater commitment and involvement in our Great Commission task.

Two days later we participated in a missionary appointment service hosted by William Carey University and Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. Mississippi Baptists reflected their strong commitment to missions by turning out en mass for this special service  commissioning 77 new career missionaries to serve around the world. The reception and mission displays (pictured) reminded us of the more than 100 such appointment services conducted during my tenure as president.

It was a full week of travel to Richmond, back home for the appointment service and then leaving for a weekend mission emphasis with Matthew and Cheryl Nance at Byne Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Matthew was an MK in Indonesia, and he and Cheryl served for almost 20 years as missionaries in Korea and China. On the way home we stopped for lunch with Al and Kem Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn and friends who served us as accountability partners over the years. It was stimulating to spend a couple of hours sharing with seminary students participating in an extension center at his church.

Earlier we celebrated Bobbie Miller’s 80th birthday with lunch together in Jackson. Bobbie and her late husband, Chuck, had been my supervisors when I served as a summer missionary in the Philippines as a college student in 1963. It was always amusing to them that I would later emerge as their Area Director. Their love and support has been a blessing throughout the years, and it has been a joy to find Bobbie living in Jackson upon retirement.

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