By Lonnie Wilkey & Julie McGowan
Baptist & Reflector
RICHMOND — Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, will be nominated as the 13th president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.
The IMB’s presidential search committee announced Nov. 6 that Chitwood, 48, will be presented to the full trustee board for a vote during their Nov. 14-15 meeting in Richmond. If elected during the plenary session on Nov. 15, Chitwood will take office immediately.
A native of Jellico, Tenn., Chitwood has led Kentucky Baptists since 2011. Prior to joining the convention staff, he was pastor of First Baptist Church, Mount Washington. He also has served as pastor of three other Kentucky churches.
Chitwood has been active in both state convention and SBC life. He served as president of the KBC in 2005-06 and was first vice president in 2003-04. Chitwood also was president of the KBC Pastors Conference in 2002.
He has served as a trustee of the International Mission Board from 2002-10 and was president of the trustees from 2008-10. In addition, Chitwood has served as an assistant professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., and as a trustee and adjunct professor of missions and evangelism at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
Chitwood has been involved in overseas short-term mission involvement in Brazil, Peru, India, China, South Africa, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, England, Spain, Germany and Haiti.
“A decade ago, I had the privilege of working with IMB President Jerry Rankin, Clyde Meador, Tom Elliff, and David Steverson to pen the IMB’s vision statement,” Chitwood said.
“While the wording was and is important, it simply captures the vision God has graciously given us in His Word. It’s His vision, and the culmination of the work that He has been doing through His church and, since 1845, through Southern Baptists. Our vision is unchanged: a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshiping our Lord Jesus Christ,” he stressed.
“It is so obvious that God has been preparing Paul for this role in so many ways,” said Rick Dunbar, chairman of IMB’s trustees and a member of the search committee from Madison, Miss. “Examine his work history, denominational experience, trustee background, educational history, leadership and team-building history; hear his heart for missions and the Lord, to be shared with the entire world; listen to his wife as she eagerly anticipates this role — and I think you will agree: We need him.”
Dunbar said the more the search committee talked, prayed and thought about Chitwood, “the more the entire committee has come together united in knowing he is God’s choice for our next president. He has the biblical foundation, a heart for missions and a proven track record of leading a big organization.”
Chuck Pourciau, chairman of the presidential search committee and senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., echoed Dunbar’s endorsement.
“Little did the presidential search committee anticipate the meandering path that would be this search,” Pourciau said. “There were many twists and turns, but our commitment remained singular. It didn’t matter what path we took as long as we ended up in the right place. The right place is to locate and recommend to the trustees the person God had already chosen as the next leader of the International Mission Board.
“We are unanimously agreed that we have done just that in recommending to the IMB trustees Dr. Paul Chitwood as our next president. Dr. Chitwood is uniquely qualified to lead us into the next era of Southern Baptists reaching the nations. His missions heart and leadership acumen will serve us well in the years to come. I am eager to watch God work through him as he leads our international missions efforts. …”
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, voiced support for his state convention counterpart.
“I am very pleased and excited that Paul Chitwood is going to be presented to the International Mission Board for nomination as their next president,” Davis said.
Davis noted that over the last seven years “Paul has become a very dear friend. I’ve watched his leadership skill up close and in person. He has a great heart and and a mindset for missions. He knows Southern Baptists. When he and I served together as IMB trustees, I was always impressed with his passion for Great Commission work and his ability to maintain strong convictions and build consensus.
“Dr. Chitwood is rock solid from every vantage point,” the TBMB leader observed.
Memphis-area pastor and former SBC president Steve Gaines tweeted Nov. 6 that Chitwood “going to serve as president of the International Mission Board is by far one of the best things that has happened in the SBC in a long time.”
Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, noted Chitwood is “a veteran senior pastor who loves the local church, our state conventions and the Cooperative Program.” B&R