Debbie McDowell, 51, director of the missions mobilization group of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, has announced her resignation after 22 years of service.
McDowell, well known to South Carolina Baptists who have participated in SCBC missions partnerships at home and abroad, joined the state convention staff after graduating from seminary in 1988. Her last day at the convention office will be July 31.
McDowell began her SCBC career 22 years ago when she accepted a newly created position that focused on developing missions partnerships. She was named missions mobilization group director in 1996.
In response to an e-mail query from the Courier, McDowell wrote: “When I became group director in 1996, the verse that God used to confirm that step for me was Colossians 4:17 – ‘Take heed to the ministry that you have received in the Lord that you may fulfill it.’
“Fourteen years later God is using that verse again to confirm that I have completed the work that He called me to do as Missions Mobilization Group Director.
“I do not know the next place He will have me to serve,” McDowell wrote. “I am anticipating an incredible faith journey where I will grow to love and trust Him more. Staying in my comfort zone to maintain a job is not what God has led me to do. I’m choosing to walk by faith.”
In November 2009, South Carolina Baptists celebrated 26 years of national and international missions partnerships. At the event, McDowell praised volunteer missionaries from South Carolina and those who supported others who went on mission trips to partnership areas.
“Even though partnerships have officially ended over the years,” she said in a Nov. 23 Courier story, “the impact continues for eternity in the lives of volunteers and in the places where they have served.”
South Carolina Baptists first partnered with Puerto Rico in 1983 to help build Baptist churches for the new believers there. Other partnerships followed, including those with Brazil, Kenya, Romania, Taiwan, South Asia, and closer to home in New England, West Virginia and the Appalachian region.
This year, the SCBC has begun “South Carolina Baptists: A Witness to the World,” an emphasis highlighting 10 “kingdom connections,” or missions focal areas.
South Carolina connections will be in multi-housing ministry, multiethnic ministries and faith/school partnerships. North America connections will be in Atlanta, Nova Scotia and Ohio. International connections are planned in India, London, Peru and with Northern African and Middle Eastern people groups.
In a Feb. 4, 2010, first-person article describing the state convention’s new missions partnership focus, McDowell wrote:
“Picture with me a football stadium filled with South Carolina Baptists who have participated in missions in their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or their ends of the earth. Now, add to that image the people who have given financially or who have given other resources in support of that mission. Finally, add those who have prayed, the travel agent and the medical personnel who gave immunizations. The stadium would be filled with those who are sharing the good news of Jesus throughout the world.
“Now, picture a stadium filled with those who are still without the hope and light of Jesus. Approximately 6 billion people would be in this stadium. If you pictured the unchurched just in South Carolina, you would see approximately 3 million.
“These two images remind me to celebrate the impact that South Carolina Baptists have made around the world. They also are a staggering reminder that we have only just begun.”
– Compiled by Butch Blume, managing editor.