BRIDGETON, Mo. — The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home Board of Trustees elected Russell L. Martin to be the next Children’s Home president during its April 22 meeting at the Bridgeton, Mo., headquarters.
Raymond R. “Bob” Kenison had announced his retirement at the January board meeting and the Board voted then to name Martin the interim president while they began their search for a new president.
“It’s time for us to look forward and see what God wants to do next with MBCH,” said board chair William A. Vail in a news release following the meeting. “We really thought that it might take a little while in looking for the next president, but in our Executive Committee meeting on Monday night (April 21), the Lord just led us to make a decision and not to wait around to name the next president….
“We had a time of prayer together seeking God’s direction, and as we prayed and talked together, God led us to a unanimous decision that Russell Martin needed to be named the next president,” he said. “It was with joy and pleasure that we presented this to the Board on…April 22, and they unanimously confirmed what we felt was God’s will.”
“Martin comes to this position with a lengthy history of dedicated and effective service to the Children’s Home,” according to the news release. He joined the staff in June 1977 as the business manager and worked alongside Kenison for more than 30 years.
As the agency grew, so did Martin’s role. He became the executive vice president and treasurer in 1997 and the president of MBCH Children and Family Ministries in 2003. He also serves as the vice president and treasurer of the MBCH Foundation, MBCH Properties and the MBCH Professional Development Institute. When The LIGHT House ministry to young mothers and their babies in Kansas City, Mo., affiliated with MBCH Children and Family Ministries, Martin was named president of that agency.
“I am humbled by this move by the Board,” Martin said. “When Bob Kenison announced his retirement plans, I said I would not seek this job and I haven’t. I believed it was vital to allow God do His work and follow His direction. The way the Board came to this decision so quickly and in such unanimity demonstrated to me that this is God’s will for my life and for MBCH at this point in time.”
Children’s Home leaders say Martin is already influential and highly respected throughout the child welfare community. He is a member of the Board of the Missouri Coalition for Children’s Agencies, serves as treasurer of the Missouri Alliance of Children and Families, and is an accreditation commissioner for the Council on Accreditation.
He and his wife, Shirley, have three sons – Brian, Trevor and Jordan – and five grandchildren. He has been a deacon and Sunday School teacher and has served on the personnel and finance committees as a churchman.
“Just as Bob Kenison has always said, I know that the real work of MBCH is done by wonderful Christian staff members throughout the state,” Martin said. “MBCH is only able to make a difference in the lives of children, youth and families because our staff truly believes that they are missionaries in the field of child and family services.
“Without a firm foundation of faith in God and a call to ministry, we would be just another child care agency,” he said. “We know that we can only excel as we follow the leadership of Jesus Christ and allow the gospel to be the guiding light of our work.”
Martin officially becomes the Children’s Home president on July 1.