Boland honored with Baugh Laity Award; first Directors Emeriti installed
WAYNESVILLE, N.C. — The second annual John F. Baugh Laity Award was presented Sept. 19 to Tommy Boland during a dinner event held in conjunction with the Baptists Today Board of Directors meeting.
Boland has served in many leadership roles in the First Baptist Church of Chamblee, Ga., that merged into the early formation of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. Among those positions of service, he was the treasurer of that congregation for more than 50 years.
A trustee and special counsel to the president for Mercer University, Boland also helped organize and lead the former Mainstream Baptist organization in Georgia — at which time he and the late lay leader John Baugh of Houston, for whom the award is named, would discuss the importance of lay engagement in Baptist life.
He described Baugh as being “very likeable,” having “a winnable soul,” and caring deeply about the Baptist witness.
Boland’s own contributions to the larger Baptist movement included serving as interim coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship following the retirement of his close friend and former Cecil Sherman — until Daniel Vestal assumed that post.
“In some ways, giving the John F. Baugh Laity Award to Tommy Boland tonight doesn’t fit,” said John Pierce, executive editor of Baptists Today, at the casual event held under a large tent overlooking the mountains of Western North Carolina. “For one, this is a rather informal affair and Tommy leans toward the formal.”
“Second, this award brings public recognition … and Tommy works hard at avoiding the spotlight,” he continued. “However, there are many more good reasons why presenting the second annual John F. Baugh Laity Award to Tommy Boland is most appropriate.”
Pierce said that because of Boland’s calm demeanor and steadfast service, many do not know of the significant influence he has had as a Baptist lay leader. One of those places of service, he noted, has been in “giving immeasurable leadership to Baptists Today over the past 15 years” that included “providing needed organizational guidance and serving effectively as a director and chairman of the Board.”
In 1954, Boland joined Wachovia Bank of Georgia (then the First National Bank of Atlanta) where he worked in the commercial credit department. His responsibilities grew quickly. In 1975, he was named senior credit officer for the bank and helped develop the bank credit cards we use today.
Eventually he would rise to the top, and served as Chairman of the Board of Wachovia Corporation of Georgia and Wachovia Bank of Georgia until his retirement in 1994.
Boland served as president of the Georgia State University Alumni Association, trustee and treasurer of the Georgia Baptist Foundation, and president of the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a director of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation, the United Way of Metro Atlanta and the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center. He is trustee emeritus of the Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center in Atlanta as well.
“Mr. Boland has a long and deep commitment to the development of youth,” said Pierce, during the award presentation. “In the golden age of Baptist denominational life he led the youth department in his church’s Training Union program and was a Royal Ambassadors counselor as well as director of the summer camp program for more than 20 years.”
Boland and his wife Beth Ann, also a faithful volunteer who served on the board of Associated Baptist Press as well as in many other roles, are the parents to two (Edwin and Susan) and grandparents to three.
Baptists Today created the award last year to honor the memory of John Baugh and to recognize the many contributions of laypersons in Baptist life. The inaugural award was presented to Patricia Ayres of Austin, Texas, in the San Antonio home of Babs Baugh, at the same time Baptists Today presented its annual Judson-Rice Award to the Baugh family.
“We continue this good, new tradition of honoring a superb Baptist lay leader, while raising the visibility of all lay leadership in Baptist life,” said Pierce at the gathering of Baptists from the mountain region of North Carolina to enjoy barbecue and Appalachian music and pay tribute to good leadership.
Pierce thanked Boland for bringing his “exceptional leadership and organizational skills and resources to important places in Baptist life — including Baptists Today.”
About 15 years ago, when the 30-year-old news journal was at a crossroads, Boland was a key person in setting Baptists Today on a new course.
“I thought there was a really good reason for it continuing or I wouldn’t have gotten involved with it,” Boland said of that time.
The news journal, today, he said proudly, is “comprehensive in a fashion the average layperson can use.”
Boland also played a strategic role in the expansion of Baptists Today into new publishing opportunities through the Nurturing Faith initiative, said Pierce.
“We are very grateful to him for all he has done — for so many, for so long, so faithfully.”
Boland was also among the first class of Directors Emeriti to be installed by the news journal board.
“Baptists Today’s greatest strength is the independence and influence of its Board of Directors,” said Executive Editor John Pierce during this dinner event as part of the news journal’s board meeting.
Earlier this year, the Executive Committee created the designations of “director emeritus” and “director emerita” to honor persons who have made significant contributions to the ministry of Baptists Today and continue to provide support and affirmation. The first class was inducted at the Sept. 19 dinner event.
Tommy Boland of Alpharetta, Ga., who at the same event was presented the John F. Baugh Laity Award, was designated as director emeritus.
Winnie Williams of Clemson, S.C., an author, professor and real estate developer who previously served as chair of the board was named director emerita. Winnie and her husband Woodie have been faithful supporters, Pierce noted, and were among the first to indicate they had included Baptists Today in their estate planning so their support will continue on into the future.
Kirby Godsey, chancellor of Mercer University, was installed as a director emeritus. A quote from Godsey was placed on the cover of the recently published commemorative book, Baptists Today @ 30: “This journal exists, in my judgment, not chiefly so the truth can be heard, but so that anyone’s version of the truth can be questioned.”
“The editorial freedom that I enjoy is rooted in that understanding of seeking truth and allowing a critical look at what might be mistaken as truth,” said Pierce, expressing gratitude for Godsey’s wise counsel and support.
Mary Etta Sanders, a lay leader from Dalton, Ga., was also named director emerita. Pierce described her as a dear friend and faithful supporter of Baptists Today.
“Whenever I’m in Mary Etta’s presence, I feel affirmed and more energized about the mission at hand,” said Pierce. “She believes in what we are doing — and her understanding of and appreciation for our ministry rubs off on others — including me.”
Four new directors, including three lay leaders, began first terms on the Baptists Today board. Two other laypersons returned for new terms.
Andrew McGill is an active member of First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., who helped in the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Tennessee. He is vice president for strategy and business development for Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga.
Donna Wood is a leader in Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, Ga., where she chairs the finance committee. She is vice president of the Macon Accounting Center for Ricoh Americas Corporation.
Jim Strawn is a member of Dunwoody Baptist Church in Atlanta. After retiring from a career in radio, he was recruited by his former pastor, Daniel Vestal, to work in finance with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He retired from that role in 2004 and now buys, restores and sells old books.
David Hull is pastor of First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Ala. He has served many leadership roles including chair of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 2012 Task Force.
Clem White, an attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Sarah Timmerman, a retired teacher and lay leader in Cairo, Ga., returned to the board after serving six years at an earlier time.
At the concluding session, outgoing directors and officers were recognized for their service including chairman Walter Shurden of Macon, Ga., and Bob Cates of Rome, Ga.
Incoming officers are Chairman Don Brewer, a lay leader in First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga., and Vice Chair Cathy Campbell Turner of First Baptist Church of Clemson, S.C. Charles Schaible of Macon, Ga., chairs the Budget/Finance Committee and Jack Glasgow of Zebulon, N.C., chairs the Development/Marketing Committee.