Advance Magazine

Guardians of the Gate

From our very beginnings, Baptist Mid-Missions has never operated autonomously. We were founded in 1920 under the authorization of a Council of pastors and lay people. That accountability structure continues to this day with our governing bodies: our Elected and Advisory Councils (US) and our Canadian Council.

Healthy Checks and Balances

To an outsider, the Council’s activity is virtually invisible, yet their work gives foundation to all that Baptist Mid-Missions does. Twice a year, this team of pastors and laypeople converge at the BMM Home Office to set policy, analyze finances, review operations and activities, and much more. One of their largest current tasks is to steer our Presidential Search Committee, which is seeking the successor to Dr. Vernon Rosenau, who will retire by the end of this year. All BMM presidents and administrators must be approved by the Council.

If one could sum up the Council’s role in a single word, it would be accountability. Keeping BMM’s operations separate from its governance creates healthy checks and balances that safeguard our long-term integrity. Dr. Rosenau has said, “Accountability is the number one reason of [the Council’s] importance. The Council molds BMM, and our administrators are accountable to them. Council members ask questions about all we do, and they work hard at keeping us operating in proper legality and fiscal health.” As part of our constitution, BMM commissions a yearly, independent financial audit, which the Council carefully parses before signing off on. Each Council member is authorized by his or her local church, which infuses BMM with representatives from missions-minded churches. As the Council sets BMM’s policies, they safeguard our theological integrity.

Missionary field teams are encouraged to send representatives to provide missionary input into each Council session, creating further checks and balances.

Worthy of Commendation

A laudable aspect of our Council members is that they conduct their roles without remuneration. Some cover travel and lodging at their own expense and others receive a stipend from their home churches. In so doing, they free BMM’s funds to be used more fully for Great-Commission ministry. Speaking of their service, Dr. Rosenau said, “They consider it a tangible way to advance the cause of world missions. They love it and serve willingly.” A Council member since 2002, Rev. David Burman Sr. (pastor of Berean Baptist Church, New Castle, Delaware) has sought ways to go the extra mile in his role. He attended BMM’s Candidate Seminar and Christmas dinner to get better acquainted with our missionaries and staff. He and his wife, Beverly, have visited and ministered to our missionaries in Brazil and Germany. “Serving on the Council certainly opened my understanding of the detail that goes into missions, getting missionaries to the field, and watching over them. I have a greater appreciation for all the work the Home Office does for the missionaries,” said Rev. Burman.

Rev. David and Beverly Burman
Rev. David and Beverly Burman

Council member Rev. David Strope pastors Ankeny Baptist Church in Ankeny, Iowa, a congregation that actively promotes a wide-range of missions ministry, which reinforces Rev. Strope’s heart for all BMM does. He enjoys being part of a team that gives big-picture missions guidance: “I always find it very stimulating to interact with the highly capable people on the Council. It gives me great delight to see in a broader scope the breadth of the ministry of the churches through Mid-Missions.”

Dr. Michael Wilburn, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, represents an up-and-coming generation of Council members—the second generation, in fact. His father, Dr. Howard Wilburn, has been a long time Council member, and his brother, John Wilburn, is a BMM missionary. Michael saw the need for continuity between the generations to shape what BMM will look like beyond Year 100: “If we can provide that in our 30s and 40s, that’s healthy for BMM’s long-term stability. It’s not easy work, but I find it joyful. It’s as though I’m supporting the missionaries, making sure their calling to ministry can be fulfilled because they have this structure behind them that supports them.”

Crucial to BMM

Expressing our deep gratitude for our Council, Dr. Rosenau said, “We couldn’t exist without them. Any honest ministry needs accountability. For the sake of transparency and honesty and for the sake of the organization’s ethical and theological stand. They are the guardians of the gate.”

BMM North America Field Administrator Steve Butler (left) speaks with Council members Lance Augsburger and David Burman Sr.
BMM North America Field Administrator Steve Butler (left) speaks with Council members Lance Augsburger and David Burman Sr.

Baptist Mid-Missions’ Council

Our heartfelt thanks go out to our governing body, who serve sacrificially to ensure Baptist Mid-Missions stays strong for generations to come:

Elected Council

Rev. Thomas Alexander—Ohio
Rev. Stephen Anderson—Colorado
Mr. Lance Augsburger—Iowa
Capt. Steve Brown—South Carolina
Rev. David Burman, Sr.—Delaware
Rev. David Burman, Jr.—Ohio
Rev. David Chapman—Ohio
Rev. Timothy Collard—Illinois
Rev. Troy Crain—Illinois
Dr. Dan Dickerson—Michigan
Mrs. Jennifer Dougherty—Iowa
Mr. Ian Ferguson—South Carolina
Dr. Randy Gilmore—Indiana
Rev. Donn Hauser—Pennsylvania
Mrs. Kim Kerr—Michigan
Mr. Jeff Kudlo—Ohio
Dr. Betsy Love—Iowa
Dr. Jeff McCann—North Carolina
Rev. Patrick Odle—Ohio
Dr. Jason Ormiston—South Carolina
Dr. Lee Ormiston—Minnesota
Rev. Mario Roy—Quebec
Rev. Kenneth Spink—Ohio
Rev. David Strope—Iowa
Dr. Jim Tillotson—Iowa
Rev. Tom Townsend—Michigan
Dr. Howard Wilburn—Virginia
Dr. Michael Wilburn—Virginia

Advisory Council

Rev. Greg Allison—North Carolina
Rev. Tom Benefiel—Florida

Canadian Council

Rev. Keith Boss—New Brunswick
Rev. Don Fisher—British Columbia
Rev. Ryan King—Nova Scotia
Rev. Mario Roy—Quebec
Dr. Jim Tillotson—Iowa
Rev. Kevin Williams—Alberta

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