By Mark Wingfield
Baptist missiologist Bill O’Brien has been named the first executive director of Gaston Christian Center, a new mission and ministry center in north Dallas which aims to create a collective of faith-based agencies and churches to serve the needs of the region.
O’Brien was elected to the post by the center’s board of directors Sept. 18 and will begin serving immediately.
Gaston Christian Center is an emerging project created in partnership between Gaston Oaks Baptist Church and Wilshire Baptist Church, both in Dallas, with plans to engage other congregations as supporting partners. The goal of the center is to ensure the future missionary use of the property currently owned by Gaston Oaks Baptist Church, once located in a historic building in downtown Dallas and at one time one of the largest congregations in the city. It relocated in 1990 to its current location — a former office building in a mixed-income neighborhood in northeast Dallas.
The property currently houses five congregations: Gaston Oaks, which is primarily Anglo; La Promesa Iglesia Bautista, a Spanish-language congregation; the Karen Fellowship; Afrika Fellowship; and Bhutanese Fellowship. In addition, the property houses several nonprofit ministries, including Healing Hands Ministries, a medical and dental clinic for the uninsured; Gateway of Grace, an interdenominational ministry focused on refugee resettlement; and the Korean-America Sharing Movement. Among shared enterprises, English as a Second Language classes are being offered, and a computer training lab is under construction.
O’Brien is an internationally recognized missiologist who most recently has taught at Dallas Baptist University, Baylor University’s Truett Seminary and the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Va. He was founding director of The Global Center at Samford University and served as executive vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign (now International) Mission Board. He began his career in missions as a music missionary in Indonesia.
“I am excited about working again with Bill,” said Gary Cook, pastor at Gaston and chairman of the center’s board. “We served together years ago on the Inter-Agency Missions Council of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Gaston Christian Center is incredibly blessed to have a person of his experience to be the first executive director of the center.”
Gaston Christian Center is a registered 501(C)(3) organization whose mission is to ensure that the 66,000-square-foot Gaston Oaks property is managed in perpetuity as a mission and ministry center, focused both on service ministries and congregational incubation.
The center also in September received its first major grant, a $100,000 endowment given through the Baptist Foundation of Texas.