DALLAS– On September 26, Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) hosted a Founder’s Banquet at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas. This event celebrated the leadership of Bill Arnold, who began the work that became TBMF in 1984 and served as president of the Missions Foundation until his retirement in 2020. Rita Griffith, who served as Administrative Assistant for TBMF from 2000 through 2020, was also honored for her innumerable contributions to the Foundation. The banquet was a time of fellowship and reflection on all that God has done through Arnold, Griffith and so many others working with TBMF.
Jerry Carlisle, president of TBMF, thanked the banquet attendees, who included Texas Baptists staff, current and former TBMF council members and representatives from many partner institutions and ministries.
“Think of the churches that are represented here tonight and what they mean to Texas Baptists and to God,” Carlisle said.
Arnold introduced Griffith, commending her for her hard work and over 20 years of dedication to TBMF.
“Her commitment to the work of the Foundation is an inspiration and a challenge for all of us,” Arnold said. “Without a doubt, the Foundation is better today because of the way Rita inspired the whole staff.”
Griffith was presented with a gift by David Lake, chair of the TBMF Awards Committee. She thanked Lake and the TBMF council for their acknowledgment and also thanked the current TBMF staff, Becky Brown, Arnold and her family. She reminisced over her years at the Foundation and spoke of her heart for the ministry.
“It’s been a great 20 years working with all of you, and I appreciate this honor and this gift. Thank you,” she said.
Following Griffith’s speech, Tony Alexander of Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving led the audience in music, singing “Be Thou My Vision” and “In Christ Alone,” songs requested by Griffith and Arnold respectively. She was accompanied by Barbara Forbis on the piano.
A video detailing the formation of TBMF was shown, featuring testimonies from instrumental people such as Dr. Bill Pinson, former executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; Bob Feather, former TBMF consultant, and Fred Roach, chairman of TBMF. It walked banquet attendees through the story of Mission Texas, the 1985-1990 statewide campaign to fund the creation of 2,000 new churches in Texas. That campaign launched the organization that became TBMF.
Arnold was then presented with a special Founder’s Award for his service. Buster Snellgrove, chair of the TBMF Council, praised Arnold and presented him with the award, saying “Bill’s always been positive. He’s committed, he’s focused, he loves the Lord and he wants to help people use their resources to help ministries reach people for Christ.”
Arnold thanked banquet attendees, Jerry Carlisle, TBMF Staff, Executive Director David Hardage, Fred Roach, WMU of Texas and his family for their support and ongoing contributions to the Foundation.
He shared about what the Foundation has done since its inception, including facilitating funding for six books; two $1 million, no-interest loans for hospitals in Guadalajara and Nuevo Laredo in Mexico; a $15 million, low-interest loan program to help start new churches; five new BSM buildings; and medical services for four orphanages.
Arnold thanked the donors who made these ministries possible, saying that the money given towards ministry has a far-reaching impact.
“The money you give to missions never stops giving. People who gave to the Missions Foundation in 1984 and 1985, that money is still at work and making a difference,” he said.
Carlisle announced that an anonymous donor made a gift of $1.6 million to establish the TBMF Bill Arnold Endowed Scholarship at Baptist University of the Americas.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how those dollars will be spent… and as long as it is needed, that endowment will keep giving in your name,” Carlisle said.
He also announced the launch of the Legacy Society, a group for donors who have included TBMF or Texas Baptists ministries in their estate plans.
“The Legacy Society is for everyone who is led by God to name the work of Texas Baptists as part of their estate plan and to include the work of the foundation and of Texas Baptists in a will or trust, charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust,” Carlisle explained. “We can help you with the vehicles; we can help you leverage your gifts in a way that avoids unnecessary tax, but a way that will honor God’s work until His Kingdom comes.”
Those interested in joining can add Texas Baptists to their estate plans through December 31, 2021, to be considered founding members.
Texas Baptists Executive Director David Hardage closed the evening. He shared that Arnold would be president emeritus of TBMF and thanked both Arnold and Griffith for their years of ministry.
“The Missions Foundation is at a great place today because of the work of Bill Arnold and Rita Griffith and so many others,” he said.
To learn more about TBMF and how they can help you build a legacy that will honor God in your lifetime and beyond, visit missionsfoundation.org.