Mackey: ‘Christian Gentleman,’ Respected Leader

Bill Mackey, a former executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, who earlier had served as director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s leadership development and evangelism growth team, died July 14 after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Mackey is remembered by those who served with him as a “Christian gentleman” and servant leader.

Mackey’s leadership and ability were recognized and respected throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, Bill Cox noted in a recent Facebook post. Cox, director of Concoxions, who organized the Chillipepper and Seesalt student conferences for many years, worked as his associate while Mackey served with the SCBC from 1979-92.

“Bill was a gifted preacher, teacher, thinker and more, but I think where he really excelled was in relationship. Bill genuinely cared about people. And it showed,” Cox wrote. “Pastors and others across our state and beyond knew that they had a trusted and passionate friend in Bill Mackey. That respect and admiration was well deserved.”

Observing that Mackey had been called “the ultimate Christian gentleman,” Cox added, “I believe and agree with all the wonderful things people will say and write” about him.

Joy Bolton, who was executive director of Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union during Mackey’s tenure, recalls him as “a servant leader, friend and mentor.” Earlier, they had worked together in South Carolina on the annual Women’s Lifestyle Evangelism Conference.

“When I came to Kentucky, he met with me regularly and included Kentucky WMU in many KBC efforts,” said Bolton, who retired to Charleston, S.C. “He understood the value of missions discipleship for long-term support of missions and encouraged churches to teach children about missions.”

Mackey’s 13-year tenure at the KBC included a strong emphasis on evangelism, missions and church planting. Under his leadership, Kentucky Baptists developed missions partnerships with Baptists in Tanzania, Poland, and Brazil. The KBC also began developing “high impact” churches started with the intention of beginning other churches.

Mackey and his wife, Kay, moved to Raleigh, N.C., to be near grandchildren following his retirement in 2011. He continued to work on a contract basis for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

“He was so Christlike in his attitude and actions,” said Milton Hollifield, the BSC’s former executive director. “He possessed a great heart for the Lord and displayed a deep commitment to follwing Jesus in his daily life.”

A native of Lancaster, S.C., Mackey earned master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to his state convention work, he served as a pastor in Whitesburg, Ky.

A memorial service for Mackey was held July 25 at Wake Crossroads Baptist Church in Raleigh, where he was a member, and a funeral and burial service was held July 26 at Fork Hill Baptist Church in Heath Springs, S.C.

Steve Hogg, pastor of First Baptist Church, Rock Hill, who preached for both services, said he considered Mackey to be “one of the two most spiritually impactful people” in his life. Mackey had baptized and ordained him and was the first pastor with whom he served on a church staff, he said.

“He was probably the most passionate one-on-one soul winner I’ve ever known. He was a man of the highest integrity, who wanted God’s kingdom to grow more than he wanted anything else,” Hogg said. “The ripple effect of his life and ministry is only known in heaven.”