In August, we celebrated Dr. Todd Gray's one-year anniversary as executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. I think it's safe to say it has been an interesting year! As chairman of the search committee that recommended Dr. Gray to the Mission Board, I would like to reflect briefly on the past, recognize significant initiatives, express my personal gratitude, celebrate the Lord's faithfulness and hopefully prepare our hearts for the future.
First, let's journey back to where it all began.
In December 2018, a diverse group of Kentucky Baptist pastors and leaders from across the commonwealth began meeting to discern the Lord's will for a new executive director-treasurer. For months, our search committee dis- cussed, deliberated, fasted and prayed for the Lord to give us guidance and wisdom. Every person on the committee felt the burden of the responsibility, and every person took the process seriously.
As we neared the end of our search, it became clear that the Lord was leading us towards Dr. Todd Gray. Therefore, at a special called Mission Board meeting on July 25, 2019, I had the pleasure of announcing Dr. Gray as our candidate and recommending him for approval by the Mission Board. On Aug. 1, 2019, Dr. Gray officially began his new role as the executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Little did we know all the interesting challenges a year could bring!
From his previous roles as a Kentucky Baptist pastor, regional consultant and team leader, Dr. Gray was very familiar with the mission of the KBC, which allowed him to hit the ground running.
Almost immediately, Dr. Gray began meeting with our Mission Board staff to ensure our churches were being well served, and to pray, plan and develop a vision for the future. He also began visiting and preaching at churches across the commonwealth to share his heart for evangelism, encourage pastors and preach the gospel to the lost.
Very early in his tenure, Dr. Gray set a goal for the Mission Board staff to have 4,000 gospel conversations within his first year. To my knowledge, this was the first time an evangelistic goal of this nature had been estab- lished. This goal is simply reflective of Dr. Gray's belief that the Mission Board staff should lead by example. Although COVID-19 hindered this initiative, our Mission Board staff remains deeply committed to personal evangelism.
Another early initiative of Dr. Gray's was the Gospel to Every Home, an evangelistic effort to reach all 1.7 million homes in Kentucky with the gospel. By August 2020, through the support and planning of our associations, more than 1 million homes have been adopted. As we move into 2021, I pray for the Lord to bless our efforts, and I pray specifically for professions of faith, baptisms and spiritual revival. In the midst of planning, goal setting, strategizing and revitalization, a nationwide pandemic struck.
Beginning in mid-March, most churches discontinued meeting in person. In fact, any type of gathering was strongly discouraged. Everyone became accustomed to hearing the word "quarantine" and hearing phrases such as "during these unique times" and "unprecedented times." Most pastors experienced the oddity of preaching to an empty sanctuary while members watched online from home.
Yet, despite the difficult realities, Dr. Gray, along with our entire Mission Board staff, continued to support, encourage, equip and strengthen our local churches. Mission Board budgets were tightened, schedules were altered, technology was improved and a significant emphasis was placed on helping churches deal with a new reality.
As a Kentucky Baptist pastor, I appreciate the tremendous effort of Dr. Gray, as well as our entire Mission Board staff, to provide assistance, ed- ucation, training and encouragement "during these unique times" (see what I did there?).
As we remember Dr. Gray's first year as executive director-treasurer, I would like to conclude by focusing on the future.
Dr. Gray began his new role with excitement, enthusiasm and evangelistic fervor. As we entered into the unchartered waters of a pandemic, he led us — and continues to lead us — with wisdom, patience and discernment.
In the near future, as life begins to return to normal, I can't wait to see how the Lord will use Dr. Gray's passion to advance the kingdom. I can't wait to hear about all the gospel conversations, professions of faith and baptisms! I can't wait to see the fruit of the Gospel to Every Home! What if the Lord uses this pandemic to heighten our awareness of eternity and strengthen our resolve to share the gospel? What if 2021 becomes fertile soil for gospel seeds? What if we experience renewal and revival?
To all those questions I say amen! I say let's go! And, as his friend and as a KBC pastor, I'm thankful Dr. Gray will be leading us as we face whatever the future brings.
Dr. Gray, on behalf of our KBC churches and Mission Board staff, thank you for leading us well.
Wes Fowler serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Mayfield. He chaired the executive director-treasurer search team and currently is first vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.