OZARK, Mo.—Jim Wells, a 15-term Southern Baptist Convention registration secretary known for his humble leadership style, died June 17 following a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 69.
First elected registration secretary in 2002, Wells oversaw messenger registration, ballot counting and reporting of vote totals at SBC annual meetings among other duties. He served alongside eight SBC presidents.
SBC President Steve Gaines called Wells “a humble servant of Jesus Christ.”
Wells “was a diligent servant and a godly, Christ-like man,” said Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. “He was a great encouragement to me and to many other presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention. We will miss him.”
When the advanced stages of cancer prevented Wells from attending this year’s SBC annual meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix, messengers adopted a resolution of appreciation that stated “countless volunteers” on the SBC Credentials Committee and among convention tellers “have witnessed transformative servant leadership through Wells’ humble, yet principled leadership style.”
As recently as June 9, the resolution stated, Wells said he was “confident in these final hours that God is in control” and that he was “looking forward to a day when we will worship at the feet of Jesus together.” Wells intended to devote his final days of life to “praying for the lost,” according to the resolution.
Messengers expressed in the resolution “their deepest and most sincere gratitude to God for the life and ministry of Jim Wells.” The resolution commended Wells for “assuring that each duly elected messenger … was properly certified and that each messenger’s ballot was accurately counted.”
Frank Page, SBC Executive Committee president, described Wells as “a truly good man” and “a man without guile.”
“He never sought the limelight but was always faithful to serve out his duties with integrity and competency,” Page said. “His Christ-like demeanor was evident to all. He will be missed.”
Wells told BP June 2 he wanted to explain in an interview following this year’s SBC annual meeting “how much it meant” to him to serve Southern Baptists as registration secretary.
He also served the SBC on various committees over the years, including the Executive Committee from 1991-2001, winning election twice as the body’s secretary and serving two years as chairman of the Administrative Subcommittee.
Wells’ five-decade ministry included pastorates of nine Missouri churches, nearly 12 years as director of missions for the Tri-County Baptist Association in southwest Missouri and four years on the Missouri Baptist Convention staff as a liaison to DOMs.
Wells’ chief registration assistant Don Currence, minister of administration and children’s pastor at First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., was elected June 13 to succeed him as registration secretary. (BP)