NASHVILLE — Bill Sumners, a Tennessee Baptist and director of Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives since 1988, will retire from his post next July, he recently announced in a letter to the Council of Seminary Presidents, which governs the organization.
“It has been my pleasure and joy to serve in this position, in this place, for most of my career,” Sumners told the CSP.
Since the 1997 reorganization of the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBHLA has been governed by the CSP, comprised of the six SBC seminary presidents. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is also CSP president.
“We are very thankful for Bill Sumners for his many years of service to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives,” Mohler said. “He has been a key figure in bridging the Southern Baptist past to its present and future. We look forward to recognizing him in the months ahead for his service.”
Sumners said the SBHLA’s “modest” collection in 1983 has grown to become the largest, most diverse and most accessible collection of Baptist material in the world.
Established in 1938 as part of the Southern Baptist Historical Society, the SBHLA maintains thousands of books, Baptist associations’ and state conventions’ annuals, Baptist newspapers, histories of Baptist churches, archival records, and many other Baptist history resources in 10,000 square feet of office space in the SBC building in Nashville, according to its website.
Sumners is a member and Sunday School teacher at Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville.
Mohler said the CSP is now about the task of finding Sumners’ successor. As CSP president, Mohler will be receiving all nominations for this very important post, he said.
Candidates for the SBHLA director are required to have a graduate degree in librarianship, Baptist history, or archival studies, with a preference for certified archivists, according to Mohler. Nominations will be received through Dec. 31, and can be mailed to: R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, Council of Seminary Presidents, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.