January 23, 2014
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has selected U.S. Navy Chaplain Capt. Gerald Hutchinson to serve as its chaplaincy and pastoral care services manager.
A nine-member search committee chaired by CBF of Arkansas Coordinator Ray Higgins recommended Hutchinson for the position. Hutchinson succeeds George Pickle, who retired in June after more than a decade as CBF’s chaplaincy and pastoral counseling endorser.
“Our search committee of nine leaders in CBF life and the chaplain and pastoral counselor community was unanimous in our support for Gerry Hutchinson as the new manager for CBF’s chaplaincy and pastoral care services,” the committee said in a statement.
“He impressed us with his creative and effective leadership experiences in a variety of strategic ministry settings — the church, faith-based organizations and 25 years as a U.S. Navy chaplain. Gerry inspired us with his humility, personal touch and pastor’s heart. We saw a gifted facilitator who listens intentionally and celebrates the gifts of others. We saw an engaging storytelling who understands the servant heart of our chaplains and pastoral counselors and the CBF churches who endorse them. We strongly felt that God’s Spirit led Gerry to apply for this role, and that the Spirit led us to Gerry.”
Since 1988, Hutchinson has served as a U.S. Navy chaplain and has extensive experience with the U.S. Marines as a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer. During 2004-2005, Hutchinson was deployed with four Marine Helicopter squadrons to Bagram, Afghanistan, where he provided ministry during combat operations and developed and implemented a regional religious ministry plan for military personnel in the Kunar province.
Hutchinson was recalled in January 2012 to active duty to serve as director of religious affairs for Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa in the nation of Djibouti. During this one year assignment, Hutchinson led a Religious Ministry Team of eight sailors, soldiers and airmen to offer spiritual care to military members in six East African nations. He was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal in 2012 for participating in U.S. Embassy-sponsored English Discussion Groups for Djiboutian youth.
Hutchinson was endorsed by CBF in 1998 and was a member of the coordinating council of CBF Georgia (2006-2008). He served as associate pastor of CBF-partner Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. (2001-2008), and as lead interim pastor/associate pastor of Culpeper Baptist Church in Culpeper, Va. (2008-2013). Hutchinson has also been a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (National Association of Social Workers) since 1984.
A graduate of Mars Hill College (B.A. in Religion), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and the University of Louisville (M.S. in Social Work), Hutchinson’s previous ministry experience also includes 14 years at the Home Mission Board/North American Mission Board, first as associate director and then as director of the Church and Community Ministries Department in Atlanta, Ga. (1987-2001), and as a Home Mission Board missionary (1981-1987) with the New River Baptist Association in Jacksonville, N.C.
“Gerry brings a breadth of experience to this job,” said Bo Prosser, CBF Ministries Coordinator. “He is a church leader, a military chaplain, a social worker and a caregiver, who has had leadership responsibilities at various levels of ministry. Gerry brings a strong background of pastoral care and will be a strong advocate for chaplains and pastoral counselors, a trusted link in our congregations and a knowledgeable resource for our constituency.”
Prosser also expressed his gratefulness for Jim Pope, a CBF-endorsed military chaplain, who served as interim chaplaincy and pastoral counselor endorser over the past seven months.
“We are grateful to Jim Pope for his leadership in this interim period,” Prosser said. “Jim will continue to help Gerry transition into his role and assist with the tasks of the office.”
Hutchinson offered kind words for both Pope and Pickle and pledged to be a persistent advocate for CBF chaplains and pastoral counselors.
“I am honored to have been selected by a search committee of peer CBF chaplains, pastoral counselors and state coordinators. I also feel humbled to follow in the footsteps of George Pickle and Jim Pope, whom I greatly admire,” Hutchinson said. “I pledge to give my best efforts, with God’s help to provide pastoral care and ministry to our CBF endorsees, to promote the ministry of chaplaincy/pastoral counseling within the Fellowship and among our ministry partners and to faithfully represent CBF among the national certification/accreditation and employment organizations.”
Members of the search committee that chose Hutchinson included:
- Ray Higgins, CBF of Arkansas coordinator, Little Rock, Ark.
- Angela Lowe, hospital chaplain and chair of CBF’s Council on Endorsement, Lawrence, Kan.
- Angela Clark, hospital chaplain, Matthews, N.C.
- Rachel Hunt Hill, hospice chaplain, Shelby, N.C.
- Paul Byrd, hospital chaplain, Birmingham, Ala.
- Andrew Gee, pastoral counselor, Atlanta, Ga.
- John Lepper, pastoral counselor and coordinator of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, Louisville, Ky.
- Arthur Wiggins, military chaplain, Triangle, Va.
- Rick Stevenson, military chaplain, Fort Meade, Md.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.