A New Role
It was 2006, just a few months after Hurricane Katrina, that I received a call to serve as pastor of the Gulf Coast district in Mississippi. I was so excited and thankful because I would be serving where I had grown up. I loved growing up along the Pearl River in the town of Pearlington. I enjoyed fishing and swimming in the bayous during the summer with my brother. Later we would both work the fishing boats that ply the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Several of the later teen summers were spent as staff at Camp Alamisco with Pastor Bill Wood, and I graduated from Bass Academy in 1985. Then it was off to Southern College (now Southern Adventist University) for a business degree with no thought that I would ever be able to return home.
I call our conference the promised land, and when you cross the Mississippi River, you have crossed over Jordan. Maybe that is why the call to Gulf Coast meant so much to me. Several family members had lost their homes, and almost all of the church members had suffered losses due to the storm. I thought what a great time to return home and be a part of rebuilding. I felt so privileged to use the gifts God has given me to serve in my home conference. Those feelings are still with me today.
For over fourteen years, I have had the privilege of serving Gulf States Conference in several roles. The role has never really mattered. What was important was that I wanted to make us better. It has never been a job; it has always been with a personal interest in the place and people that mean so much to me. On September 1, our Executive Committee asked me to serve in the role of President. On the one hand, this is just another role, and I want to bring to it the same energy and enthusiasm that I have for every other position. On the other hand, I feel what an honor it is to be entrusted with this role by those who I call family. My heart is full, and while I know it is just a role, please know that I will do my best to advance God’s Kingdom for as long as our constituents feel I can be a blessing. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The many comments and texts have given me courage, and I look forward to what God has in store for Gulf States!
Meet the Team
“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
Elder Livermore left many legacies to Gulf States Conference. One of those was creating a larger ADCOM team. I have seen the benefits of having a larger decision-making team. Traditionally the ADCOM team consisted solely of the three officers, but under Elder Livermore’s leadership, Cary Fry and I were given the titles of VP and included on the ADCOM team. I am thankful that our Executive Committee allowed us to continue that practice by granting the VP title to Tracy Fry. I believe we really bring a strong administrative team to work with our Executive Committee in moving Gulf States Conference forward. I am so thankful to work with our officers: Martin Fancher, Executive Secretary, and Gwen Speak, Treasurer. Martin has served in Gulf States for twenty years and is well known. He is easy to talk with and brings a great knowledge of policy to our team. Gwen Speak is our other officer and brings audit as well as Union level accounting experience to our team. Cary Fry, VP of Ministerial, continues to serve on ADCOM. Cary does a great job both supporting and challenging our pastors. Lastly, as I mentioned, we added Tracy Fry as VP of Administration. As a former principal and teacher, she brings educational experience and a gift for administration. In its entirety, the team brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to serve you and work with our Executive Committee.
Navigating the Times
Students at Hoover Christian School utilizing protective measures in class.
I want to say a special thanks to our teachers here in Gulf States. COVID-19 has brought with it many challenges. All of our churches and their leadership teams have made decisions based on what was best in their local area, and God has blessed. The challenges are especially hard to navigate in our schools. Currently, all of our schools are open, and students are being taught on the campus of each one. This has required a lot of work from our teachers and school boards to find a way forward. While challenging, when I visited Hoover Christain Academy a few weeks ago, the students seemed so happy to be together. The staff and students were doing a great job following protocols, and to date, our schools have done well. Most of our schools began with enrollment down a bit, but I am thankful we are open and continuing to minister and educate our young people. Bass Academy enrollment is just over sixty students so far this year, but they too are off to a good start. Please continue to keep our schools in prayer as they move forward in this challenging time.
I want to thank those who have continued to remember the Bass Memorial Academy Endowment. We are currently over the two million dollar mark. This ministry is close to my heart and a continual focus for me. Giving to an endowment is the gift that continues to give each year through the earnings. Building the BMA Endowment is one of the ways we try to make sure the ministry of Bass Academy continues here in our conference, and I am so thankful for your continued support.
Office of the President