By Sharon Mager
BCM/D Staff Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Baptist Mission Resource Center Coordinator Roy Thomas will retire on March 31. Thomas has served in a multitude of capacities through the years at the BCM/D.
BCM/D Team Strategist for Church Wellness Randy Millwood refers to Thomas as a “Renaissance Man.”
“He is one of a handful of people I have been privileged to know in life (and what a gift to get to have served with him), who is fearless at learning and growing in multiple interests.
Millwood said he has seen Thomas learn finance, IT, electrical and plumbing skills, grounds maintenance, construction, mail management, logistics, maintenance, event coordination, moving/relocation and conference planning.
“In our churches he has been preacher, teacher, musician, worship leader and education leader.
“And, alongside such a great variety of tasks and roles, we’ve gotten to enjoy his artsy, creative side from the retirement songs to script writer and everything in between. He reads widely, enjoys a cornucopia of music styles, is a photographer, a poet, a lover of the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies and a friend!”
“Whatever needed to be done … Roy was your man to do it,” said Theresa Sassard, who now serves as Baltimore Baptist Association executive office administrator. Sassard served with Thomas in the BCM/D finance department until 2006. “I could always count on Roy to bring a smile to my face with his quick wit, whistling in the halls, and singing through his projects, even on not-so-good days.”
“Roy and I worked closely together for about 18 years,” said past BCM/D Director of Finance and Development John Faris. “What I have always appreciated about Roy is his commitment to ministry to others, his integrity and his work ethic.”
Thomas reflected, “When I began working at the BCM/D in 1989, we had about 300 plus churches. Today our churches number about 540. The leadership during that time span (Past Executive Directors Charles Barnes and David Lee) provided a base for growth by encouraging and equipping our convention to promote church multiplication. They also enabled our missionaries to be out in the field, empowering them do what they do best; interact, consult, encourage, resource and coach. I am thankful to God for the opportunity that I have had to provide the resources and expertise in helping make this virtual transition possible.”
Asked about memorable moments, Thomas shared: “I had the privilege, along with my wife, Elaine and son, Mark, to serve as a DR [disaster relief) volunteer in the aftermath of 911. We had the opportunity to serve the people of that area providing food preparation to workers at Ground Zero and other first responders.
“I also served as the MD/DE partnership coordinator for the Nicaragua Disaster Relief Partnership, which included the state conventions of Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri and Maryland/Delaware. In the wake of Hurricane Mitch (1998) numerous teams (five from MD/DE) were sent to construct housing for the people in those areas devastated by the storm.
A native of New Jersey, Thomas attended Pierce Junior College and majored in Business Automation Technology, what would now have been considered computer engineering. Thomas met his wife, Elaine, on the very first day of classes and they married after graduation. It was at a young adult retreat in Lebanon, N. J., where Thomas prayed to receive Christ.
Thomas began a career in banking and also served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era. During this time, he and his wife were relocated to Nebraska, where Thomas surrendered to the Lord and a call to vocational ministry.
After graduating from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Thomas answered a call for a minister of education at First Baptist Church of Laurel and later Hazelwood Baptist. He also ministered at a church in Pennsylvania and for some time served in a secular business capacity.
Through those years, Roy and Elaine had three sons: Geoffrey, Trevor and Mark.
Thomas has no intention of “retiring” during his retirement. He has a list that includes continuing work on the book he has been writing, photography, consulting and pulpit supply to churches as needed.
Looking ahead, Thomas quotes J.R.R.Tolkien’s beloved character Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings:”
“The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
pursuing it with eager feet,
until it joins some larger way
where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.’”
“God willing, I too I am embarking on a new adventure. But though it is unfamiliar territory for one who has become accustomed to sameness I, like Frodo, too will join it with eager feet.”