Southern Baptist Leaders Endorse Chitwood for IMB President

Dr. Paul Chitwood, 48, will be nominated by trustees’ presidential search committee as the International Mission Board’s 13th president. The vote is scheduled for trustees’ Nov. 14-15 board meeting in Richmond. (Kentucky Baptist Convention Photo by Robin Cornetet)

Southern Baptist leaders from across the convention express their endorsement for Dr. Paul Chitwood as IMB’s 13th president. (Updated Nov. 13)

“Little did the Presidential Search Committee anticipate the meandering path that would be this search. There were many twists and turns, but our commitment remained singular. It didn’t matter what path we took as long as we ended up in the right place. The right place is to locate and recommend to the trustees the person God had already chosen as the next leader of the International Mission Board.

“We are unanimously agreed that we have done just that in recommending to the IMB trustees Dr. Paul Chitwood as our next president. Dr. Chitwood is uniquely qualified to lead us into the next era of Southern Baptists reaching the nations. His missions heart and leadership acumen will serve us well in the years to come. I am eager to watch God work through him as he leads our international missions efforts. Yes, brothers and sisters, we did indeed arrive at the right place, and that right place is Dr. Paul Chitwood.”

—Dr. Chuck Pourciau, chairman, IMB Presidential Search Committee, and senior pastor, Broadmoor Baptist Church, Shreveport, Louisiana

“As I have studied our IMB history and our past presidents, it is clear that God continues to build on the foundation laid down by so many. I believe that Paul brings many gifts and strengths that are exactly what we need right now.

“I have served as a trustee under Jerry Rankin, Tom Elliff, David Platt and Clyde Meador. They are all different, but I believe that each was called to this position with a unique perspective and giftedness, and we thank God for all of them. Paul brings a unique perspective also. He is a proven leader, motivator, and mobilizer, he is committed to missions, and he gives his all to the pursuit of God’s will.

“I believe Paul has the ability to unite the SBC and local churches to work cooperatively for the spread of the gospel all around the world.

“It is obvious that God has been preparing Paul Chitwood for this role in so many ways. Examine his work history, denominational experience, trustee background, educational history, leadership and team-building history; hear his heart for missions and the Lord, to be shared with the entire world; listen to his wife as she eagerly anticipates this role — and I think you will agree: We need him.”

Dr. Rick Dunbar, chairman, IMB board of trustees, and member, First Baptist Church, Madison, Mississippi

“I have known Paul for 16 years, and have consistently been impressed by and thankful for his commitment to the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth, as well as his excellent leadership skills. When Paul was serving as chairman of IMB trustees, he became an integral part of the leadership team, even to the point of having a significant part in crafting our vision statement that continues as a guide even today.

“His keen insight, leadership strength, commitment to the Great Commission, humility, and understanding of the lost world that lies before us, as well as unusual knowledge of the SBC, all combine to make him the ideal next president of IMB.”

Dr. Clyde Meador, IMB interim president

“It was a great privilege to get to know Paul through our search process. As an IMB trustee for eight years, and the chairman of the trustee board for two terms, he expressed a unique understanding of the demands of the role of president. In addition, his educational preparations and ministry background have shaped him to be ready to move into this demanding role. Yet, I sensed his deep heart of servant leadership when he told us his greatest passion is ‘the Lord’s kindness to me.’ His time leading in Kentucky demonstrates how he values entities and cooperation, and I have no doubt he will leverage the relationships he has developed thus far in his ministry. It was exciting to see him light up when we talked about the missionaries on the field, his passion to be a mobilizer and his yearning to see people saved.”

Mrs. Cindy Snead, member, IMB Presidential Search Committee, and member, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Arizona

“I am very happy to join with the rest of the Presidential Search Committee in recommending that Dr. Paul Chitwood be approved as our next IMB president. Dr. Chitwood is passionate about missions. He understands the workings of the IMB. He loves missionaries. His humble but strong leadership style will enable him to work well with our Richmond personnel, our field missionaries, and our SBC churches.  His vision for the future will inspire and guide the IMB as we seek to make disciples of all nations.”

 —Rev. Duane Ostrem, IMB field leader, Asia, and member, IMB Presidential Search Committee

“I have known Paul Chitwood for more than two decades. I know his heart for international missions and for the nations. He is a great choice for IMB president. I believe he will bring great vision, passion, and leadership to the IMB.”

Dr. William “Bill” Henard, Executive Director-Treasurer, West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists

“It will be a huge loss for Kentucky, but an unmistakable win for the Southern Baptist Convention: after an incredible tenure as Kentucky Baptist state exec, my friend Dr. Paul Chitwood is the IMB presidential search committee’s long-anticipated nominee.”

Dr. Adam Greenway, Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I am incredibly excited about this announcement. Paul and I were fellow pastors and friends for years in Kentucky, and we have had a great partnership with the Kentucky Baptist Convention under his leadership. I am looking forward to partnering with him and IMB for years to come. I know God will use him greatly in this new role.”

Dr. Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board

“I am so thankful for this announcement. I have known Paul Chitwood for many years. He is one of the most faithful and effective ministry leaders I know. He has the heart, mind and soul to lead the International Mission Board with skill, devotion, energy, and vision. He loves Christ and is passionate to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. This is a great day for the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Dr. Al Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Dr. Paul Chitwood will be presented to IMB trustees as the nominee for president of the IMB. He has been my dear friend and brother for a long time. Couldn’t be happier! Dr. Chitwood has served as a pastor in Kentucky, a trustee of the IMB and chairman of our board during his tenure. He is currently serving as state executive director for Kentucky Baptist State Convention. He will make a great IMB president.”

Gordon Fort, IMB Ambassador for the President

“I believe the Lord has been gracious to us at IMB. Dr. Chitwood is a Christ-honoring brother, and I appreciate his humility, missiology, and pastoral insights. As a former Kentucky Baptist pastor and state convention president, I think this a good day for Southern Baptists and our Great Commission hopes!”

—Dr. Kevin Smith, Executive Director, Maryland/Delaware Convention

“I was privileged to serve on the IMB Board of Trustees with Paul Chitwood. He always seemed motivated by the conviction that everyone in the world needs to hear the gospel and he demonstrated the leadership needed to mobilize Southern Baptists to take the gospel to all the world. He is going to serve the churches of the SBC well as president of the IMB.”

—Dr. Charles Fowler, Pastor, Germantown (Tenn.) Baptist Church

“It was such a joy to receive word that the IMB’s presidential search team was unanimously recommending Paul Chitwood as our next IMB president. I have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the quiet grace, genuine humility and incredible effectiveness with which Dr. Chitwood has carried out his many roles as husband and father, teacher, pastor, IMB board chairman, and current Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. In all of those assignments, Paul Chitwood has made clear his passion to see the fulfillment of the Great Commission, his compassion for the lost, his understanding of Southern Baptist life and his eager, innovative approaches to Kingdom expansion. As many on the board and on the field will testify, Paul Chitwood is eminently qualified to serve in this new role. It will be a privilege to pray for him faithfully as he assumes leadership in this new era of advance in global missions.”

—Dr. Tom Elliff, Former IMB President

“I am thrilled at the news that Dr. Paul Chitwood will be the new president of the IMB. He will be an outstanding IMB President. I have known Paul and Michelle since 2006 and served with them in various Kingdom endeavors. Paul is a man of integrity and wisdom. He genuinely loves the Lord and his family and the Great Commission.  He will be a president all the constituents of the SBC can connect with as well as a president who can lead the IMB into the future. I praise God for raising Paul up for such a time as this.”

—Nathan Lino, Senior Pastor, Northeast Houston Baptist Church

“Extremely pleased at the pending election of Paul Chitwood as the new IMB president. Superb, Godly leader, doctrinally and missiologically sound, solid devotion to SBC cooperation, driven by passion reaching the nations. His time as IMB trustee chairman the most delightful of my tenure.”

—Dr. Jerry Rankin, Former IMB President (via Twitter @RankinOnMission)

“Paul Chitwood is an excellent choice to lead the SBC International Mission Board. He is a state executive so he understands how Southern Baptists relate to one another. He is a strong proponent of the Cooperative Program which is the lifeline for missions. He is a confessional Baptist. He will keep us lashed to the inerrancy of the Word of God. I am thrilled at his selection.”

—Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

“I am very excited for Southern Baptists, our churches, and our International Mission Board because Paul Chitwood is an outstanding choice to serve as our IMB President. He has a pastor’s heart, strong leadership experience, and is a passionate mobilizer for missions. Paul relates well to churches of all sizes and pastors of various backgrounds while being able to build strong cooperative gospel partnership that will serve our Southern Baptist family well. He will be a courageous advocate for our missionaries and sound the urgent call for every church to be involved so every nation is reached with the gospel of Christ.”

—Dr. Brian Autry, Executive Director, SBC of Virginia

“I am excited about the nomination of Paul Chitwood as the next president of the SBC International Mission Board. By training, experience, disposition, and conviction, Paul is ideally suited to give leadership to Southern Baptists’ premier missions enterprise. Paul is committed to Christ, His Word, His Church, and His gospel mission. He values by word and deed Southern Baptist missiology, Southern Baptist structures, and the Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists. We pray God’s blessings on Paul, Michelle, and their family as they begin this significant new role.”

—Dr. David Hankins, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptist Convention

“For months I have prayed God would work in the life of the IMB presidential candidate and give him a heart consumed by God’s call. I have prayed for the IMB search committee and asked the Father to protect the process as well as the hearts and integrity of search committee members. I prayed committee members would emerge united, resolute and confident in identifying His candidate. Today we celebrate an answer to prayer.

“I could speak in glowing terms of professional achievements, but Paul and Michelle Chitwood won my heart when I discovered their passion to help vulnerable children. As an adoptive mother, I was captivated to hear their foster care/adoption journey.

“Joy Bolton recently retired as executive director-treasurer of Kentucky WMU. During her tenure, she worked closely with Dr. Chitwood. She says, ‘Paul Chitwood is a true missions supporter. He has led the way in promoting the Cooperative Program and missions offerings and has been a partner with WMU in missions discipleship and engaging people in missions. He values the role of the local church in preparing future missionaries and in supporting those who are serving now. Dr. Chitwood will be a great bridge builder with those who pray and give to send missionaries around the world. He has a unique understanding of the partnership of local churches, associations, and state conventions with the SBC to do our work cooperatively.’

“As leader of the International Mission Board, I am confident Dr. Chitwood will inspire and motivate all Southern Baptists to enthusiastically embrace the Great Commission as a personal mandate. At WMU, we treasure the opportunity to tell the stories of Southern Baptist missionaries and call Baptists to generosity and prayer for the sake of making Him known among the nations. We would be eager to welcome Dr. Chitwood to this new role and work in partnership for the gospel.”

—Sandra J. Wisdom-Martin, Executive Director/Treasurer, Woman’s Missionary Union

“I first met Dr. Chitwood when he was considering doctoral studies. Since then, I’ve watched the Lord give him a passionate heart for missions and use him as a strong pastor and denominational leader. He loves the Lord, his family, the church, our denomination, missionaries, and the nations. I look forward with eager anticipation to see how the Lord will use him to lead the IMB into the future.”

—Dr. Chuck Lawless, IMB Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists; Dean of Doctoral Studies and Vice President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at SEBTS

“Dr. Paul Chitwood will be a wonderful leader of the International Mission Board. His denominational experience, trustee background, overseas travel, and his education involvement will definitely aid him in the task at hand but his heart for the lost is his driving force. Paul Chitwood’s greatest desire is that all peoples from every tribe and nation would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He has a true burden for the lost, and the life he lives is indicative of just that.

“He is a huge advocate for the Cooperative Program, leading the state of Kentucky to increase funding to international missions by moving more Cooperative Program funds from the state mission budget to the Southern Baptist Convention budget.

“He is a strong leader with a huge missions heart. He is a wonderful father and has been blessed with a wonderful helpmate in his wife Michelle. She is a great mother, mentor, and prayer warrior for her husband. She will be a great asset.

“As President of Woman’s Missionary Union, I am very excited for the International Mission Board and the missionaries serving all around the world. As a Kentuckian, we will miss him leading the Kentucky Baptist Convention but I know he is following God’s leading and will give it his all. I am honored to call him friend.”

—Linda Cooper, President, National Woman’s Missionary Union

“The first thing I did upon hearing the news was smile. I can think of no subset of Southern Baptists that should not be pleased to hear of Dr. Chitwood’s nomination.

“We join in prayer for the full board as they meet next week to consider the search committee’s recommendation. Paul loves missions. He has led out in support of the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches. His wide range of experiences has equipped him to see the value of every facet of Southern Baptist ministry and missions, from local church, through the association, and on to the state and national levels. I believe he can be confident of his convention’s support and continual prayer, for we can certainly be confident of his for us.”

—Augie Boto, Interim President, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee

“Throughout my years of ministry I have met some impressive godly leaders who have come to the place of service at the most opportune moment. Paul Chitwood is one of those rare individuals who has done just that for such a time as this. He has impressed me with his godly spirit and his unique gifts for spiritual leadership.

“Paul knows Southern Baptists and he has an excellent working knowledge of the IMB and the mission we have to reach the world for Christ. As a pastor, Paul led his churches to be on mission with The Great Commission. He was exemplary in leading his churches to give generously through the Cooperative Program and to the special missions offerings.

“Paul’s experience as chairman of the trustees at IMB, at a very strategic time, has helped to shape his leadership skills and his Christian worldview. He demonstrated wisdom as a leader of leaders. His travels around various parts of the world doing hands on missions work are valuable to the ministry he has been called to do.

“In his role as Executive Director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Paul has been a pacesetting leader in his state and among his peers in other state conventions. During this time I have had the privilege of walking alongside him as a fellow Executive Director. I have admired his practical and thoughtful brilliance as a visionary leader. Paul is one of the few people I know who is extraordinarily gifted with insightful and analytical thinking.

“I am proud to call Paul Chitwood a friend, a partner and a colleague in ministry. I look forward to seeing what our Lord will do through him as he gives leadership to the IMB. I am praying for him as he begins this journey.

“You have called a top tier leader who will lead well and personify the best of the best among Southern Baptists. Paul is the real deal and I do not express that casually.”

—Dr. Rick Lance, Executive Director, Alabama Baptist Convention

“Paul Chitwood going to serve as President of the International Mission Board is by far one of the best things that has happened in the SBC in a long time! A veteran senior pastor who loves the local church, our state conventions & the Cooperative Program!”

—Dr. Steve Gaines, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., Former SBC President (via Twitter @BellevuePastor)

“Thank you, the IMB President search committee, and the whole of the IMB Trustees for the wonderful job you all have done in seeking a candidate for our next IMB President! I was excited today to hear of the nomination of Dr. Paul Chitwood of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Paul is an excellent choice for this role and to lead the IMB into the future that God has for us. Dr. Chitwood brings several key characteristic and gifts to this role for this appointed time. He is a great man of God, exemplary in his ministry, family, and personal life. He is a gifted leader from his time as a pastor, to serving as a trustee with the IMB, and then to the Executive role he has carried out so well in the Kentucky Baptist Convention. His heart for missions is evident in how he has led the various ministries he has been involved in through the years. His love for missions has also been just as evident in his personal life attested to by his many mission trips.

“I believe one of the greatest gifts he brings to the IMB Presidency is his ability to communicate and relate to our churches and constituency. He is a pastor at heart and a leader by experience and example. It is a right timing that Paul is coming into this role; a time that we need even more clear and heartfelt communication with our churches, associations, and conventions. On top of all this, I have seen personally his heart for the SBC, the Cooperative Program, and gospel going to the ends of the earth. Thank you again, all of you, for this godly, wise choice as our next leader of the IMB.”

—Jeff Palmer, CEO, Baptist Global Response

“Having worked closely with Paul on a variety of denominational issues within our Commonwealth, I’ve seen him interact with numerous people both inside and outside church walls, pastors large and small, intellectuals and everyday Joes, and what I’ve found is ‘Dr. C’ has a unique gift to connect with people from all walks of life. In fact, I’d say he’s as gifted in that area as anyone I’ve ever met. Seminary professors, missionaries on the field, denominational influencers, whoever: I’ve observed him break down barriers on numerous occasions in order to foster understanding. With a denomination as diverse as ours, that kind of relational insight will be invaluable whether or in Richmond or Riyadh, Nashville or Naples.

“Even when conversations become necessarily difficult, Paul has time and again called us back to our mission as heralds of the good news. Imagine someone with advanced governmental and administrative abilities coupled with a skill set to communicate complex issues in a simple way:  now imagine that individual merged with a kingdom heart. That’s Paul Chitwood.”

—Barry E. Fields, Pastor, Hawesville Baptist Church, Hawesville, Ky., via

“Dr. Paul Chitwood has blessed us as pastor of my home church during those hard Somali years and the loss of our 16-year-old son from an asthma attack in Kenya. He has always been a missions leader as pastor of churches, chairman of IMB trustees, and as the leader of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Paul Chitwood’s heart breaks for the billions of lost people, and he speaks passionately on their behalf. He is a leader who exemplifies a servant’s heart. He loves missionaries and IMB. We are grateful that our search committee has recommended such a man of God to lead us.”

—Nik and Ruth Ripken, Mission Veterans and Researchers

“I have known Paul Chitwood since he became a trustee of our company back in 2002. In particular, when he served as chairman of the board from 2008 to 2010, I saw his leadership in action, and I was impressed by what I saw. I have always found Paul to be highly intelligent, thoughtful, straightforward yet diplomatic, skillful at leading people and processes, and deeply committed to our Savior and our mission. Although he has never served long- or mid-term overseas, his experience as a trustee gives him unique insight into who we are and solid familiarity with how we operate.

He has served as a pastor, as an adjunct professor of EV at SBTS, and as Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Each of these roles will be tremendous assets to him as president. He has the relationships of an insider in the SBC, but he is not an advocate of tradition or the status quo. Just to give one example of his leadership, when he became Executive Director of the KBC, he led the convention in his first year of office to change their Cooperative Program giving from 65% to the state/35% to all other causes to a 50%/50% split, effective immediately. That was not an easy thing to do, but he then led well through the necessary changes to get KBC spending within the new budget realities. I believe that the Presidential Search Committee has served us very well in choosing Paul as their nominee.”

—Zane Pratt, VP for Global Training, IMB

“I am excited to see Dr. Paul Chitwood nominated to lead the International Mission Board. Paul has served effectively as a pastor, state convention executive and mission leader. He is a cooperative program champion and strong Southern Baptist unifier. I whole-heartedly support his nomination.”

—Ted Traylor, Pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla. 

“When I heard the news that Dr. Paul Chitwood would be the candidate for our next IMB president, I rejoiced. For some years Paul and I served together on the IMB’s Board of Trustees. He consistently demonstrated a sense of godly wisdom and genuine humility. His life and ministry trajectory from those days to now are open books and ‘the proof is in the pudding.’  His missiological passion, theological convictions, and methodological practices sync perfectly with who Southern Baptists are and, still yet, who we will become for the Kingdom’s sake.”

—Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor, Istrouma Baptist, Baton Rouge, La.

“I am very pleased and excited that Paul Chitwood is going to be presented to the International Mission Board for nomination as their next president. Paul has become a very dear friend. I’ve watched his leadership skill up close and in person. He has a great heart and and a mindset for missions. He knows Southern Baptists. When he and I served together as IMB trustees, I was always impressed with his passion for Great Commission work and his ability to maintain strong convictions and build consensus. Dr. Chitwood is rock solid from every vantage point.”

—Dr. Randy C. Davis, President and Executive Director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board 

“Congrats ! The mission of the is what excites me most about being a Southern Baptist; praying Psalm 67 for you & the teams you’ll lead. Believing the best days are ahead!”

– Dr. J.D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and President, Southern Baptist Convention (via Twitter @jdgreear)

“I rejoice in the selection of Dr. Paul Chitwood as the next president of the IMB. This is, without doubt in my mind and heart, the will of our Lord. I give thanks to God for the diligent and faithful work of the Search Committee. I will be praying for Paul, his family and the IMB family during this transition period.  The future looks even brighter!”

—John Adams, Retired Vice President for Religious Affairs at Union University, former IMB Trustee from Tennessee

“What a sense of answered prayer to hear about Dr. Paul Chitwood as the next President of the IMB. I had the privilege to serve with Paul on the board, and I knew then that God has something special for Paul in the future. You can be sure we will continue to pray and support the Board in these matters.”

—Dr. Michael Butler, Senior Pastor, Lakeview Baptist Church, former IMB Trustee from Oklahoma

“What a joy unspeakable it was to receive your blessed information that Dr. Chitwood is under the Board’s prayerful consideration to be the upcoming President. I believe that the Search Committee has made a commendable recommendation regarding the promising candidate. I did serve with Bro. Paul, who was the chairman of our Committee of the East Asia People’s Group, and highly appreciated his loving and wise leadership. Be assured of my continued prayer as you and the Committee prayerfully deliver your wise consideration and decision.”

Simon H. Tsoi, former IMB Trustee from Arizona

“Congratulations ! The family will love you and gladly serve you as you lead Southern Baptists to reach the nations.”

– Dr. Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (via Twitter @DannyAkin)

“It is with joy and gratitude to the God who hears the prayers of His people that we collectively affirm the nomination of Dr. Paul Chitwood as the President of our beloved International Mission Board. No ministry of Southern Baptists enjoys more prayer support than that of our international missionaries. Nothing spurs the generosity of Baptists like that of taking the good news of Jesus Christ to the nations. We believe that Dr. Chitwood will seek the face of God and His vision for the work of the IMB. We also believe he will demonstrate the love and care that our missionaries require and deserve.

“As colleagues of Dr. Chitwood, we know him to be a man who loves our Lord, His people, and His work. He is a uniquely gifted leader who has demonstrated commitment to all that we stand for as Southern Baptists, including the Cooperative Program which undergirds Southern Baptist missions at the state, national, and international levels. Effective leadership of the IMB can best be given by a man who understands and supports the cooperative mission system unique to SBC. We believe that Dr. Chitwood’s deep involvement in Baptist life at every level makes him a strong choice to lead the IMB. Indeed, had you sifted through the annuls of 47,000 Baptist churches, and our 15 million members, you would be hard-pressed to find another who brings together the experience, holy character, forward-thinking, spirit of cooperation with all SBC partners, and leadership skills of Paul Chitwood. He will not only lead the IMB to greater effectiveness and gospel impact, he will be a unifying leader for Southern Baptists at large. As was said of another long ago, Paul Chitwood is a man for such a time as this.”

—Fellowship of State Executive Directors