State Missions leader retirecomment (0)
By Anthony Wade
For half of his life Billy Nutt has worked as a state missionary with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, with the majority of that time in ministry to Baptist associations throughout the state. July 31, he retired.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my work, but the work is not completed,” Nutt said.
“There are many things yet to be done, but I leave with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.”
Nutt has been employed by the State Board of Missions in various capacities for the last 33 years. He retired after serving as director of the Associational and Cooperative Missions office for about 15 of those years.
Years ago when the office existed as the Association Missions Office, he was its director for 10 years.
Nutt was honored at the Associational Leadership Conference May 11-12 at the Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center, with gifts from directors of associational missions (DOMs).
Jack Wright, Clarke Baptist Association DOM and president of the Alabama Baptist Conference of Directors of Associational Missions, presented the gifts along with a book of letters to Nutt.
“We want to express our appreciation to you from all DOMs for your 33 years, for your friendship and for your leadership — for being to us what you have been all these years,” Wright said.
SBOM executive director Rick Lance called Nutt “the personification of what it means to be on mission for Christ here in Alabama. Billy Nutt has been a pastor to DOMs — a major part of their support group.”
Nutt responded, “As I think about my Christian ministry in the local churches and the 33 years at the State Board of Missions, it has been beyond my fondest dreams and imaginations. I am grateful to God and Alabama Baptists for allowing me this opportunity.”
Among other gifts was a large framed picture of Union Station, presented by Judy Felkins, president-elect of the Mission Belles, an organization of spouses of DOMs. The print of this railroad station, a historic structure that still stands in Montgomery, was welcomed by Nutt, who has a keen interest in railroads.
In retirement, Nutt will continue working a couple of days a week on special projects for the SBOM.
“Dr. Lance has asked me to stay on a part- time basis as a special assistant to him to work on projects related to his office. I’ll do that two days a week,” Nutt said.
“I’ve used in recent days verses — Ephesians 3:20-21 — which basically say that there’s a power at work in all of us that’s able to do far more than we could ask or hope for. I have not seen my work as a job, and I have not seen it as climbing any kind of a corporate ladder, but I have had opportunities that have far exceeded my fondest dream of what Christian ministry is all about.”
Nutt’s successor, Ron Madison, comes from the pastorate of First Baptist, Opelika, and prior to that First Baptist, Decatur.
“I’m excited about the leadership that he will provide, and I think he’s an excellent choice,” Nutt said.
Nutt, 66, was born in and spent much of his childhood in Fort Deposit, then he and his family moved to Foley. Both places he fondly calls home.
His wife, Geri (Sparkman) Nutt, grew up in Huntsville and was a member of Huntsville Park Baptist Church.
They have three sons: Kedric, Kevin and Kendall Nutt; one daughter, Kim Mills, and five grandchildren with a sixth on the way. Spending more time with the family and especially the grandchildren — the oldest is age 10 — is part of Nutt’s retirement plans.
“I enjoy piddling,” he said. “I don’t play golf or fish, but we have small acreage, and I enjoy being outdoors. I’m not a mechanic, but I enjoy working with my hands and keeping my tractor and mower operational.”
He said that he and his wife enjoy traveling, citing the coast, the mountains and the southwestern U.S. as favorite places. A generous travel gift was a big part of the gifts he received from the DOMs at Shocco.
Nutt knew in his early teens that he was called of God into full-time ministry. His educational trek took him to Howard College (now Samford University), where he earned his B.A. in 1956, then to Southern Seminary, where he earned his master’s of divinity in 1961. He was bestowed an honorary doctorate from the University of Mobile in the 1970s.
He served three pastorates while in school, two of them in Alabama — Magnolia Baptist Church and Oakdale Baptist Church, both in Alabama-Crenshaw Association. After seminary, Nutt was pastor of Goshen Baptist Church in Salem-Troy Association, then Millry Baptist Church in Washington Association.
After Millry Baptist, he began his career as a state missionary, working at the SBOM beginning in 1967.
“I enjoyed being a pastor, but these years of service at the Board have given me the opportunity of focusing more in the missions area, which has certainly been challenging, and has brought with it a sense of fulfillment,” he said.
As he retires, there are 75 associations and 72 directors of missions in the state, and the associational and cooperative missions office has eight major divisions.
Nutt explained that the first Baptist associations in the state were in the 1810s, preceding the founding of the Alabama Baptist State Convention in 1823. These early groups usually met once a year, and there were no offices or DOMs. One of the earliest was the Beckbe Association, now Bethlehem, which covers basically Monroe County. But in the early 1800s Beckbe covered most of what is southwest Alabama.
“I would say that during the last half of the 20th century we have seen a maturing on the part of the associations from a time where a lot of things were done for them by the SBOM and SBC to now, a time where they are very mature and have able staffs and financial resources, so that in their maturity they are much more charting their own course in missions.”
Nutt said early DOMs were pioneers in the 1940s—50s with most being older. Today, many younger men with very strong credentials are filling these leadership roles.
“We’re all on the same playing field in a colleagueship — it’s not a hierarchy sort of thing,” he said.
“For the association in the 21st century, the name of the game is going to be resourcing the churches. Whether it’s the association, state convention or SBC, the bottom line is doing a quality job in providing services to the churches. The association is closest to the churches and has a tremendous opportunity in resourcing the churches in the 21st century,” he said.