An honor and one that got away - Word&Way

An honor and one that got away

As Missouri Baptist Convention annual meetings go, this year’s rendition at Tan-Tar-A Resort on the Lake of the Ozarks was pretty quiet so far as business and debate were concerned.

Bill Webb

Nothing particularly controversial came out of the many reports brought to messengers. Questions from the floor following various reports were almost nonexistent.

Five resolutions recommended by the Resolutions Committee drew not a question or a comment as each was presented by title and voted on individually. This isn’t always the case.

Preachers and other leaders had plenty of time to preach and make other presentations, and musicians brought in to lead worship were frequently granted bonus time to fill in unused minutes on the program.

Messengers will each recall their favorite recognitions, awards, messages, reports and music, of course.

One such memorable moment was the introduction and recognition of longtime Missouri Baptist Children’s Home President Raymond R. “Bob” Kenison, who retired this year after 36 years of dedicated service.

The other was the banter produced when messengers discovered that Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary President Jeff Iorg was the team chaplain for the San Francisco Giants, at the time still playing the Kansas City Royals to decide the World Series.

Kenison, who officially retired June 30 but is continuing key assignments through year’s end, drew a long standing ovation when introduced during the Children’s Home report to the convention on the morning of Oct. 28.

He was joined on the platform by MBCH Trustee Vice Chair Greg Morrow and Kenison’s long-time associate and his successor as president, Russell Martin. The retired leader acknowledged the ovation but did not speak. President Wesley Hammond invited him to the main lectern and prayed for him.

The next morning, Kenison’s service was feted in a resolution of appreciation in his honor.

Those who know Kenison understand that he would have been much more comfortable advocating for the rights and care of hurting children and their families, lobbying on the ministry’s behalf or engaging in fund-raising to undergird the longstanding ministry.

The Children’s Home faced some uncertainty when Kenison came on as a development officer 36 years ago and after just a few years was asked to assume the role of interim administrator and, months after that, administrator without the interim tag.

His dedication and hard work on behalf of hurting children and families has paid off through the years, but he is quick to point out the work of countless agency staffers during his tenure, who have been the primary points of contact with hurting constituents.

The ministry is no longer primarily facilities housing groups of children to the degree it once was. The agency still tries to help restore broken families, provide temporary foster care and facilitate adoptive services. Kenison believes children function best in families.

Bob Kenison’s leadership is one of the primary reasons the Children’s Home has become the force for good it is. His commendations at Tan-Tar-A were well-deserved.

Iorg, who spoke during the annual Missouri Baptist Pastors Conference, taught one of two CORE leadership development sessions and then brought the final message of the convention, broke the news about his baseball chaplaincy by dangling his hand over the edge of the lectern and pointing out that he was wearing a World Series ring presented to him when the Giants won the World Series in 2000. He had received another after the 2012 championship and mentioned that he hoped to win a third if the Giants could knock off the Royals in either Game 6 that evening or in Game 7 the next night.

He took (fairly) good-natured ribbing after the Royals grabbed a 10-0 win to even the series at 3-3. He spoke before noon, hours ahead of the start of the championship game in Kansas City. The Giants squeaked out a win in the final, 3-2, long after the annual meeting had adjourned.

Iorg handled the sting of the Game 6 thrashing well as he took the platform for the last time. Of course, he had the last laugh. For the third time in five years, Giants players did not need consolation from their chaplain of 10 years. And it looks like Iorg will receive his third ring. He plans to leave one to each of his three children some day, he told messengers.

Still, didn’t the Royals give their fans a great ride?

Bill Webb is editor of Word & Way.