By Bill Webb
COLUMBIA — The Missouri Baptist Foundation board of directors feted their president of 15 years during a banquet held in conjunction with their regular meeting Aug. 4-5 at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia.
James “Jim” Smith’s 15th anniversary with the organization prompted words of praise from board chairman Ron Mullennix, retired staff member Ed Wallace, Baptist General Convention of Missouri staffer Bob Perry and New Tribes Mission staffer Tim See.
Foundation staff members and directors were joined by representatives from several Baptist entities who have been recipients of the work of the organization.
Smith received a cash gift from Mullennix on behalf of the board as well as an unexpected keepsake — a painting by director Steve Easterwood, who also is pastor of First Baptist Church, Dexter.
The painting shows Smith — in casual clothing — helping an older man representing people in need, one of many endearing characteristics of the 15-year leader, according to pastor-painter Easterwood.
He had composed the painting utilizing photography of Smith, Easterwood said, ultimately focusing on the Foundation president’s focus on others in his work and in his private life.
Wallace, retired trust officer with the Foundation, recounted his friendship with the Foundation leader since Smith’s first pastorate out of seminary in Oklahoma. Wallace and his family were members there.
He listed a number of leadership characteristics exemplified in Smith but focused on one — obedience, to God and to his ministry to others.
Perry, who is the congregational health team leader for BGCM, also referenced the leader’s work in a local church. A year or so ago, Smith served as interim pastor of University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield, where Perry and his wife, Marilyn, were members.
What Perry witnessed was a Foundation leader with a pastor’s heart, both in his relationship with the entire laity of the church but also with the staff and key leaders during the interim.
Tim See said Smith and the Foundation worked closely with him and the New Tribes Mission training facility on the Lake of the Ozarks to help set up an endowment for the mission-sending organization’s “tech center,” which See administers.
New Tribes Mission missionaries traditionally serve in jungles, See explained, and he develops technology to help them do such things as carry on computer communication utilizing solar power.
The men met when Smith did interim pastoral work at Riverview Baptist Church at Osage Beach, where the Sees are members.
Mullennix announced that in Smith’s honor, the staff and board had contributed $1,250 to go to the Minsk (Belarus) Theological Seminary, a cause dear to Smith.