(photo: Churchnet Executive Director Jim Hill, Rev. Samuel Tolbert, and new Churchnet President Forestal Lawton.)
Messengers at Churchnet’s 2016 Annual Gathering elected three new officers to lead the Churchnet Board of Directors for 2016-2017. Meeting April 15 and 16 at First Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, messengers elected the following new officers: President Forestal Lawton, Vice President Brian Ford, and Secretary Amanda Evans.
Lawton, who served the past three years as Vice President, will serve as President. An active member of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., Lawton has long called Kansas City his home. He serves as Director of the Men’s Department of the Baptist World Alliance. A graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Lawton spent 35 years working for the Jackson County Family Court.
“I am delighted that Forestal has agreed to serve as President of Churchnet,” says Churchnet Executive Director Jim Hill. “He has been one of our key leaders for several years, and he comes to this new leadership role with a passion for Baptist work around the world, a commitment to local church ministry, and vibrant personal faith. I know he will provide great leadership for our network.”
Ford, a current Board member, will serve as Vice President. The pastor of Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church in Columbia since 2003, Ford grew up in Missouri and is a graduate of William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan., and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. Ford has served on boards for various Baptist ministry organizations and as an adjunct faculty member at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Holly, have two children.
Evans will serve as Secretary. Evans is Project Director for Blue Duck Marketing, which she founded with her husband, Nathan. Evans has worked with several Baptist ministry organizations in Missouri. Evans holds two degrees from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., where she currently resides.
Outgoing President Donna Potts completed her constitutional limit of three one-year terms. Melody Pryor, pastor of First Baptist Church of Stanton, Mo., stepped down as Secretary after several years of service.
The main speakers during the Annual Gathering were: Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. (President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.) Carol Bercian (Founder and Director of the Tabitha Ministry in Guatemala City), and Rev. Otto Echeverria President of the Guatemala Baptist Convention). There were also several breakout workshops on a variety of ministry topics, including combatting predatory lending, working to end hunger, preparing for cross-cultural missions, serving as a healing presence between citizens and law enforcement, and reaching Millennials.
“Our theme this year was Missional Collaboration,” Hill said. “Churchnet is all about helping to create space where genuine collaboration can take place among congregations and church leaders as we seek to join God in his mission in our world.”
Churchnet’s mission is to serve churches by fostering collaboration and hope for engaging new generations and cultures.