The Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board announced the hiring of Jason Thomas, a pastor with a decade’s worth of experience in campus ministry, to mobilize the denomination’s nearly 4,000 black congregations for missionary work.
“The IMB is excited to have Jason join our team as we work to deepen our relationships with African American churches across the convention,” Chris Derry, director of IMB’s partner relations team, said in a recent release from the organization. “His experience with church planting and growing historically black college and university ministries will aid him in guiding us to better listen to, equip and inspire more Southern Baptists from our African American churches to partner with our 3,660 field missionaries to take the gospel to the nations.”
Thomas’ hiring comes just months after Doug Logan, president of Grimké Seminary, Acts 29’s director of Diversity for Church in Hard Places, and a pastor at Remnant Church in Richmond, Virginia, highlighted in an op-ed published by the IMB why the organization needs to send out more missionaries of color and highlighted a number of reasons how they could do this.
“Like it or not, the legacy of European colonialism is a major stumbling block for many of the millions who suffer in places ravaged by centuries of light-skinned oppression. In contexts like these, black and brown missionaries simply bring credibility that’s hard to obtain otherwise. On top of this, diverse missionary teams avoid sending the wrong message about our faith. Simply by virtue of being different, they help the world see that the gospel is for all types of people,” Logan wrote.
He noted at the time that even though the IMB had fully funded missionary vacancies, very few of his friends who pastored majority black congregations were aware of the opportunities. He further suggested that the organization worked to build awareness among black churches through organizations such as the National African American Fellowship, which represents more than 4,000 predominantly black congregations in the SBC.
According to the organization’s website, the NAAF has a membership in excess of 400,000 ranging in size from house churches to some of the largest churches in America.
And Marshal Ausberry, president of NAAF, said he was excited about Thomas’ hiring.
“Truly, we believe that the addition of Jason as a church mobilizer focusing on the African American church will help foster stronger relationships within the IMB in reaching the world for Christ," Ausberry said.
Along with his 10 years of experience as a campus minister, Thomas has a Master of Divinity degree in church planting from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Southeastern Louisiana University. He and his wife, Gaynel, live in Henrico, Virginia.