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new board for a new day

Meet the men who will direct the newest Free Will Baptist department

by T.R. Scott

To find out more about the Free Will Baptist Foundation, visit

FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS, the Free Will Baptist Foundation piggy-backed on the Board of Retirement and Insurance for leadership and direction. That changed in July 2005 when delegates to the 69th annual Free Will Baptist national convention elected a nine-member, separate board to guide the expanding agency.

The time was right, because the FWB Foundation had grown from a one-man operation to a corporation handling millions of denominational dollars and required its own staff and strategic plan.

After William Evans was named the Foundation’s first full-time director, the denomination created its first new board in more than 40 years. Meet the FWB Foundation Board—nine men elected in flights of three with terms expiring in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

The board, with members from eight states, is a diverse and savvy group, flush with broad-ranging experience. Chairman Waymon Fields, a layman, serves as mayor of Millport, Alabama. Member Wendell Walley is president of California Christian College; Phillip Whiteaker is both an assistant pastor and a Circuit Judge in Arkansas.

Their ages range from a young 35 (Brian Hurst) to a young-at-heart 69 (Waymon Fields). The board includes five pastors and seven FWBBC alumni.

Pictured (left to right)
Wayman Fields, chairman
Barry Simpson, vice-chairman
Roy W. Harris, secretary


Waymon Fields (Chairman)

Deacon, Sunday School teacher, musician, banker and mayor—Alabama businessman Waymon Fields understands finances and has served more than 35 years on district, state and national boards.

Mr. Fields brings 49 years of banking experience to his leadership post with the Foundation. He currently chairs the board at Merchants and Planters Bank in Millport (AL), and logged 33 years as the bank’s CEO. He served 12 years on the Board of Retirement and Insurance.

Fields, elected mayor of Millport in 2004, is a member of Alabama’s General Board (31 years), the Mt. Moriah Board of Missions (36 years) and is in his 36th year with the Alabama Children’s Home Board. One more thing—he was elected to the Lamar County Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

Barry R. Simpson (Vice-Chairman)

Pastor Barry Simpson leads New Hope FWB Church (Joelton, TN), an exciting congregation that influences the community and impacts the city of Nashville.

The 47-year-old Kansas native was converted while serving a four-year hitch with the U.S. Marine Corps. He took off his dress uniform in 1981 and enrolled at FWBBC, graduated five years later with a B.A. degree, and was ordained to preach in May 1986.

Simpson’s experience includes eight years as a board member at Pleasant View Christian School, four years on the FWB Family Ministries Board (Greeneville, TN), 15 years with the Cumberland Camp Board, and 17 years as treasurer of Cumberland Association’s Northern Quarterly.

Roy W. Harris (Secretary)

Fifty-three-year-old Roy Harris starts a new career on May 1 when he tries on the “Executive Administrator” title and moves into the FWB Executive Office. He will serve as convention manager, Leadership Conference director, and will coordinate stewardship seminars and disaster relief efforts.

Reverend Harris previously served 16 years at FWBBC in several roles—director of advancement, director of stewardship development, dean of men, dean of tudents, and men’s residence director.

He pastored 15 years in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Roy is a writer, educator and denominational veteran who founded Ahoskie Christian School (NC), and served in leadership roles at every level of ministry from moderator of local associations to chairing ordaining councils. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FWBBC, and is pursuing doctoral studies.

Pictured (left to right)
Brian Hurst , assistant secretary
Rick Locklear
Donnie Miles


Brian Hurst (Assistant Secretary)

He’s young—just 35 years old. He’s different—earning two degrees (B.S. and M.S.) in engineering at the University of Tennessee. He’s multi-talented—two years as manager of site administration and security with the National Association of State Boards of Accountacy, two years as men’s residence director at FWBBC, two years as youth pastor in Oak Ridge, and two years as adjunct faculty at FWBBC.

Brian has been pastoring four years and is in his second full-time church. He saddled up at Eastside FWB Church (Houston, TX) and later accepted a call to Missouri at First FWB Church in Mountain Grove. While in Texas, he served on the state Christian Education Board.

He served five years as an environmental engineering consultant before relocating to FWBBC and pursuing pastoral ministry studies. Son of a minister, Brian was converted at age six and ordained to preach at 27.


Rick Locklear

The man from Michigan—Rick Locklear’s 25-year ministry has focused on two churches in Michigan’s Wolverine Association. When Rick was 21 years old, the Ten Mile FWB Church (Madison Heights) took a chance and called the young preacher as pastor. The gamble paid off, the church prospered and grew, and Rick stayed five years, experimenting, learning and taking notes.

For the past 20 years, the 46-year-old minister has served as associate pastor at the influential Woodhaven FWB Church where his father (Loyd Locklear) leads the congregation. Rick says he has enjoyed the best possible mentoring experience at Woodhaven.

Reverend Locklear is the long-time moderator of the Wolverine Association. He also served as the association’s treasurer and as a member of the Michigan Master’s Men Board. Converted at age 11, Rick answered the call to preach during his junior year at FWBBC.

Donnie Miles

When people ask Donnie Miles about his life, he always defers and claims there’s not much to tell, that he’s plain and not very distinguished. But the quiet 52-year-old minister, deep in his first pastorate, brings stability and versatility to the Foundation Board.

Donnie took a seldom-used (but quite effective) route to his current role as senior pastor at Peace FWB Church in Florence, South Carolina. He invested 16 years as assistant pastor at three North Carolina churches in Beaufort, Durham and Greenville—learning, studying, experimenting. He is now in his 16th year as pastor at Peace Church.

Miles, a South Carolina native, graduated from FWBBC in 1976. He subsequently served on the North Carolina State Youth Board, on both the North Carolina and South Carolina State CTS Boards, and as director of South Carolina State Youth Ministries. He serves on the South Carolina Conference Presbytery Board. Donnie grew up in the home of a landscaper (dad) and a banker (mother).

Pictured (left to right)
Wendell Walley
Phillip T. Whiteaker
Melvin Worthington


Wendell Walley

There aren’t enough college presidents to go around, but the FWB Foundation Board has one. After 34 years in the pastorate, Reverend Wendell Walley was named president of California Christian College (Fresno, CA) in 1999, where he has brought a renewed energy and vision to the institution. The 63-year-old minister was converted at age five in his home state of Mississippi.

Wendell’s four pastorates in Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina include a stint as a home missionary when he planted, organized and pastored First FWB Church in Greeneville (MS). His pastorates rang with building, expansion, land purchases and construction.

Reverend Walley earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at FWBBC, where he was student body president, yearbook editor, and was named the “Most Outstanding Student.” He has written extensively for Randall House (Sunday School and CTS materials) and contributes to denominational publications. Wendell served two years on the national Executive Committee, four years on the General Board, 12 years on the Home Missions Board, plus numerous state and district responsibilities.

Phillip T. Whiteaker

When he’s not busy with his duties as assistant pastor at First FWB Church in Jacksonville, Arkansas, Reverend Phillip T. Whiteaker (44) sometimes hears himself referred to as “Your Honor.” That’s because Phillip is one of those rare preachers who is also an attorney. He completed his law degree in 1986, became a deputy prosecutor (1993-97), and has served as Circuit Judge in Arkansas’ 23rd Judicial Circuit since 1997.

Whiteaker was ordained as a minister in 1988. His 18-year ministerial career in Arkansas includes serving five congregations in Little Rock, Glenwood and Jacksonville.

Active in local Central Association outreach, Whiteaker marked 10 years on the Executive Board and three years on the Mission Board. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University (B.A.) and U.A.L.R. School of Law (J.D.).

Melvin Worthington

One of the most respected and recognized names among Free Will Baptists, Dr. Melvin Worthington (68) brings 50 years of denominational service to the FWB Foundation Board. Although he was a successful pastor for 20 years in five states, Worthington’s signature body of work is his 23-year legacy as executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Named Executive Secretary Emeritus in 2002, he continues to influence and shape denominational thinking.

During his years in the Executive Office, he demonstrated flexibility and innovation as editor-in-chief of Contact, convention and conference director, and launched the International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist churches, Inc. (1995). He convinced the denomination to construct a National Office Building (1991) and publish the 720-page hymnal, The Free Will Baptist Hymn Book, Rejoice (1988). Through his leadership in 1992, the denomination adopted The Together Way Plan of support.

Worthington earned two doctorates, the Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University (1998) and the Th.D. from Luther Rice Seminary (1974). His influence reached beyond Free Will Baptist ranks. He served 20 years on the Board of Directors of the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA), and was elected president of the organization. He became one of the nation’s top meeting planning consultants, earning the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, and annually conducts workshops for hundreds of association planners.






©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists