CBF interim says attrition rate unexpected

Lance Wallace, director of communications and marketing at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for more than nine years, is the latest in a series of senior-level staff departures in recent months.

By Bob Allen

The interim head of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship says senior staff attrition has been higher than expected since the recent retirement of CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal, but it is no cause for alarm.

Patrick Anderson, interim executive coordinator and a past CBF moderator, said a Duke University official told a recent faculty gathering that even a premiere institution like theirs should welcome a 5 percent turnover annually so the organization does not run the risk of becoming stagnant and inbred.

“Since we have had little or no turnover for more than a decade, perhaps the departures we are currently experiencing calculate to that percentage,” Anderson said in an internal memo later made public. “It just happened all in one year!”

lance wallaceThe most recent departure is Lance Wallace, who has served as director of communications and marketing at the Atlanta-based CBF for more than nine years. His new job is director of communications of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, a position Anderson said has “greatly added professional advantages for him and his family” and “is built on his CBF experience."

“None of us would begrudge his accepting such a marvelous opportunity,” Anderson said. “I must say we were fortunate to have him as long as we did.”

Anderson said Wallace, a deacon at a CBF-affiliated church, remains a strong supporter of the organization, and so do other recently departed professional staff.

They include Terry Hamrick, who retired as coordinator of missional visioning but continues to manage a Lilly Endowment grant on the Fellowship’s behalf; Rob Nash, who was global missions coordinator for six years before returning to academia at CBF-affiliated Mercer University; and Ben McDade, who left after 10 years as coordinator of Fellowship advancement to join a new startup venture by CBF partner Baptists Today.

Steve Graham, who oversees peer learning groups and leadership development for national CBF, was just named coordinator of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. He begins duties Oct. 1. Rick Bennett, director of missional congregations for eight years, is returning to his native North Carolina to become pastor of a key CBF-affiliated church.

Anderson said each transition has its own “back story” but none of those individuals “left” CBF. Instead, he said, all “were recognized by our CBF partners as having skills and qualities they found attractive for their own organizational purposes” who offered them “enhanced forums in which to express their own CBF identities.”

Anderson said CBF leadership plans to structure staff in ways consistent with recommendations of a 2012 Task Force approved at the recent General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We continue to have good talent in CBF, and we will develop that talent and add new talent into the mix as we go forward,” Anderson said. “We are sad to say goodbye to some good and faithful servants. We eagerly await the emergence of new staff, so that perhaps in 10 years they too will be stolen away from us by our friends who know us best.”

Before coming to CBF in November 2002, Wallace worked as director of communications for Mercer University in Macon, Ga. Prior to that he worked at two newspapers in Florida and at the Macon Telegraph in Georgia.