Because The Baptist Home trustees are “just the friendliest bunch of people,” Annetta Kirkpatrick finally agreed to become The Home’s first female board chair.
But Annetta has discovered joy in serving the institution since she first, hesitatingly, said yes to becoming a trustee a decade ago.
Then-President and CEO Larry Johnson approached her in 2002 to consider serving on the TBH board.
“I was just speechless…. I was so surprised…because I hadn’t kept track of what was going on at The Baptist Home,” she said.
Johnson wanted to know where she stood on legal action the Missouri Baptist Convention had filed against The Home and four other formerly affiliated institutions earlier that year.
The Home, Word & Way, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Missouri Baptist University and Windermere Baptist Conference Center had each changed their governing documents to elect their own trustees. The MBC filed the lawsuit in August 2002 in an attempt to regain control of them. L
egal action against The Home is still pending in Cole County Circuit Court.
Kirkpatrick said that when she introduced her husband, Don, then a Word & Way trustee, Johnson was reassured and invited her to become a TBH trustee.
Annetta agreed to serve, even through she “didn’t feel qualified,” she said.
But in November that year, she thought she might have to back out after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
During a get-acquainted meeting in December, she felt God reaffirm her decision. “God was leading me to say yes…even though I didn’t know about the state of my health,” Kirkpatrick explained.
She began as a trustee in January 2003 and served the customary two three-year terms before rotating off the board. Invited to serve again, she returned to the TBH board in 2013 to fill the unexpired term of a trustee who had resigned.
Last fall, current President and CEO Steven Jones asked her to consider leading trustees as chair.
As chair of a committee in the past, Annetta had attended executive board meetings. “I was in awe of the chair. I thought what a job that would be,” she said.
But her first response was “no way.”
“Steve was so very supportive and encouraging to me, so I felt if the Lord wanted me to do this,…he would lead me,” Kirkpatrick said.
She recently led her first executive board meeting and looks forward to her first full-board meeting on March 27 at Arcadia Valley, Mo.
“I am thrilled she has made herself available to serve The Home in this way,” Jones said. “And she is doing a great job. She is exquisite in her leadership abilities. The Home is very fortunate to have someone of her strength and compassion leading this ministry.”
Despite the continuing legal action, The Home “has done so much in these last 12 years,” Kirkpatrick said. “The Baptist Home just keeps doing what it’s supposed to do — just taking care of people.”
As chair, she hopes to see the work continue. She would like to see the completion of the new campus at Ashland, Mo. “That would be something wonderful. It is a good time to be on the board — to see [the Ashland campus] from start to finish…. I get to be involved,” she said.
For her first executive board session, Annetta took the gavel her late husband had received for his service as Word & Way board chair from 2004 to 2006. She plans to place it on the table near her at each executive and full-board meeting as a reminder of how much Don had enjoyed accompanying her during her first stint.
Kirkpatrick is an active member of Big Creek Baptist Church in Pleasant Hill, Mo.