By Vicki Brown
Jim Hill has been tapped as interim executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. He will assume the part-time post on June 1.
Announcing the appointment at the BGCM annual meeting on May 30, outgoing executive director H.K. Neely noted, "We are ready for a new kind of leadership."
Neely emphasized that he chose to step down from leadership because he believes the fledgling convention needs new direction. "Nothing is wrong [in the BGCM]," he said. "Everything is right…. We need accountable leadership who can take on more responsibility…. It is simply time for a new direction in the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. It is time for strategic planning…and for a serious mission endeavor."
Drawing from Baptist heritage, Hill reminded his listeners that as associations and the first convention were formed in Missouri, "it was all about missions and evangelism."
Hill, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention from 1998-2001, pointed to the future. "You have a great future because you have the heritage without the bureaucracy," he said.
He said he recognized a problem in the MBC 10 years ago. "The peak year was 1964. It's been in decline ever since…. What I was hoping to do [as MBC executive director] was to throw out the bureaucracy and streamline [operations]," he said. "We [BGCM] are free…to organize…without an existing bureaucracy."
Hill added that the BGCM has a bright future because control will not be an issue. "We have voluntary cooperation without the need to control…. Control never works," he said.
The BGCM also gives individuals and churches a "chance to express passion without anger," Hill said. "We are about a passion for the kingdom…for serving churches…for doing God's work even if people don't like us. We can work with anyone…to form covenant relationships…. That's the way Baptists have always worked."
In an interview, Hill said his commitment to the new convention outweighs the criticism he knows will result from his decision to accept the post.
Hill resigned as MBC executive director on Oct. 4, 2001, citing a diminished leadership role with other MBC leaders, lack of confidence from executive board members, and increased visibility and control by a fundamentalist faction.
Hill said he accepted the BGCM post because "I believe in the organization, the people who are part of it and the churches that are part of it." He will concentrate on strategic planning.
Hill will serve part-time until a search committee names a full-time successor. Neely served without pay the past two years to help the new convention gain ground financially. Hill will receive a salary.
The new executive director serves as a strategy planning and resource development consultant to non-profit corporations and ministries as president of RDI Consulting and to congregations as president of Resource Churches.
A Missouri native, Hill is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as pastor of several Missouri Baptist churches and was a church planter for and staff member of the Home (now North American) Mission Board.
Vicki Brown is the Word&Way news writer.