Along with recently announced budget cuts and various ministry and staff reductions, LifeWay Christian Resources also will be discontinuing the Church Partners area. The Alabama Baptist confirmed the decision with LifeWay on May 4.
The church partners ministry area represents 36 states and Washington D.C., according to Fran Trascritti, director of church partnerships, in a November article at blog.lifeway.com/newsroom.
“Our church partners … exist to both hear from churches and partner with them in ministry by being experts on the many trustworthy resources LifeWay provides,” Trascritti said in the article. “Their primary job is to visit with churches across the country to develop an ear for what issues pastors and ministry leaders are facing on a daily basis.”
The number of positions eliminated has not yet been reported. Unofficial sources indicate each state represented with a church partnership had at least one LifeWay representative and several states had multiple representatives.
Alabama most recently had two representatives and had three for a few months last year prior to repositioning of personnel following a retirement in Mississippi.
Alabama Baptists will miss the relationships, connection to expert information and opportunity to have a voice at the table, said Daniel Edmonds, director of the office of Sunday School and discipleship for Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Edmonds, who has a long history with LifeWay and the various people who have served in the church partnership roles, knows the importance of truly understanding the Sunday School literature and Bible study curriculum being selected by church leaders.
“You’ve got to have a trusted partner with literature,” he said.
Alabama’s two most recent representatives, Michael Gentry and Rick West, served that role well, Edmonds said, noting that everyone who has served in the roles for Alabama throughout the years has had an education ministry background and understood how to help the churches. “It has been an essential function especially for the second chair-type roles in larger churches and pastors of churches of 250 and under.”
‘Up for the challenge’
But “even as we grieve for our friends and are sad to lose this connection to LifeWay, we also value our partnership with LifeWay … and have confidence they will find a path forward,” Edmonds added.
“We don’t know what the picture will look like and where we are in that picture or even if we are in that picture, but we’ve got to pray and trust. We’ve got to pray for Ben (Mandrell, LifeWay president) and that God will lead him in the decisions he has to make.
“We’ll continue to work with LifeWay as best we can,” Edmonds said. “I think Ben is going to really try to get to know the churches and the hearts of the people … I think he’s up for the challenge. I look forward to seeing how they figure this out.” (TAB)
Share with others: