Ernie Myers, founding executive director of the Nevada Baptist Convention, died Tuesday, April 2, in Plano, Texas. He was 93.
Myers was elected as executive director when the Nevada convention was constituted in 1978 in Las Vegas during an Oct. 16-17 meeting at Red Rock Baptist Church.
He led Nevada Baptists until his retirement in June 1992.
He also served as the Southern Baptist Convention’s second vice president, elected at the SBC’s 1989 annual meeting in Las Vegas.
“Dr. Myers provided stability as this new convention was learning to be a convention,” Kevin White, the convention’s current executive director, said in comments to Baptist Press.
“He ever sought to keep the vision and purpose before the churches — of a convention of churches working together for the Kingdom,” White said. “He also made a priority of teaching the Cooperative Program to many of these churches and leaders, as he truly believed in the CP” as Southern Baptists’ key channel for supporting state, national and international missions and ministry.
The convention grew from 65 churches and missions to 135 during the 13-plus years of Myers’ leadership, with 17,341 baptisms.
Working in the nation’s seventh-largest state with 110,567 square miles, “Dr. Myers had a grand endeavor as the new executive director,” White said. “He was responsible for establishing a budget [of $135,000], locating office space and hiring staff to perform the needed tasks of the new convention.”
And he moved to establish partnerships for the 14,000 Baptists in Nevada with the former Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) and other state conventions.
The convention’s first offices were in a converted Victorian home next to the University of Nevada in Reno. The convention sold the home in 1982 “as Dr. Myers saw the need to buy the current building that now houses the Nevada Baptist Convention offices,” White recounted. “His experience in running capital campaigns was pivotal in fundraising for the purchase and remodel of the current convention building. We currently reap the blessing of a debt-free building as a result.”
Michael Rochelle, retired pastor of Shadow Hills Baptist Church in Las Vegas and a former convention president, said “Nevada has been blessed by the visionary leadership of this trailblazer in the West.”
“Leaving the security and comfort of a solid ministry for the risk of giving birth to a new state convention evidences the walk of faith in this man’s life,” Rochelle said. “Patience and persistence characterized his life. His willingness to invest himself in the lives of churches and church leadership was undeniable.”
The Nevada convention “would not enjoy its current position without the foundation laid by Dr. Myers,” Rochelle said. “Nevada has lost a great leader and the SBC has lost a great man.”
Mike McCullough, associate executive director for the California Southern Baptist Convention who formerly worked on the Nevada convention’s staff, said Myers, a Mississippi native, “loved serving in the West and advocated for the needs of Nevada and other new work conventions.”
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Source: Baptist Press