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(RNS) Two longtime executives of the Southern Baptist Convention have announced plans to retire in 2010, with each warning that new evangelism approaches will be needed in the denomination’s future.
Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, announced to his trustees on Sept. 16 that he would retire on July 31, 2010.
“We are at a crucial stage at which it is imperative that we become a different type of organization — a denominational entity that is not doing missions on behalf of Southern Baptists but is essentially serving and facilitating churches in taking responsibility for the task,” said Rankin, who will be 68 and will have served for 17 years in the post when he retires.
Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, announced on Sunday (Sept. 20) his plans to retire on Sept. 30, 2010.
Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Chapman also announced a prayer effort during his last year in office that urges Southern Baptists to “pray for one person every day until that person is saved or one of you dies.”
Chapman, 68, said the prayers would be part of a new initiative called the “Great Commission Resurgence.” Chapman had earlier questioned that initiative, which was approved at the denomination’s June annual meeting and spearheaded by SBC President Johnny Hunt.
“It seems as if we as Southern Baptists have lost our passion for personal evangelism,” Chapman said in a statement to Baptist Press.
In addition to the pending departures of Rankin and Chapman, another top executive recently left Southern Baptist ranks. Geoff Hammond resigned Aug. 11 from the presidency of the North American Mission Board, which he led for two years, after questions were raised about his management of the agency.
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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