By Robert Dilday
Ricky Creech will step down as executive director/minister of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention April 24 to take the helm of a faith-based nonprofit in Kentucky which provides services to troubled youths in parts of Appalachia.
Creech, who has been the DCBC’s chief executive since 2011, announced his plans April 3 to the convention’s board of directors — the first meeting of the group created in a major governance restructuring adopted in February.
In an interview Creech said adoption of the restructuring proposal — which reduced the governing body from 163 members to 25 and streamlined committees — offered a natural time to consider his own future.
Creech shepherded the proposal, which he described as a “radical departure” in governance for the 150-church DCBC, through a months-long process. It was presented last October, but a vote was postponed when delegates asked for more time to consider it. Final approval was given Feb. 24.
“Ever since October I had been thinking that when you pass this proposal, you end one chapter and start another,” Creech said. “Either I would continue to walk with the convention and help write their future story, or I would step aside for someone who is fresh and let them write the future story.”
If he stayed, he added, he would have made a long-term commitment — “and I had to ask whether I was willing to make that and whether that was where God wanted me.”
It was while grappling with those questions that Creech said he received the offer to be president and CEO of the Kentucky-based ministry, which he declined to name until that organization has released the information. The offer was an opportunity to return to his social work roots — he began his career as a church and community missionary in Alabama — and to be closer to family, he said.
“This is a 360 move. I’ll end professionally where I started.”
Creech counts as a key accomplishment the DCBC’s shift from a governing structure dating to the early 1950s.
“At the end of the day my job was to assist in moving the convention forward. I felt this new governing structure was needed.”
But his tenure has been marked by other accomplishments, many reflecting the passion for social ministry which is sending him to Kentucky. Creech is credited with establishing a fully-equipped emergency response team which assisted victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey as well as those affected by adverse weather conditions in Washington. He also enlisted MissionServe DC, which for the past two summers has brought hundreds of youth to the area to repair homes for single parents, low-income residents and seniors in the District and suburban Montgomery County, Md.
Creech has formed ties with D.C. Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), the American Red Cross, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. He was appointed commissioner for national and community service by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and began laying a foundation for the convention to become a major stakeholder in community transformation.
“This is a magical city and I’ve experienced things I never thought I’d experience,” he said. “Things are going great here. I could stay and continue to be successful because we have a great team in place.”
Before his election to the DCBC position, Creech was executive director of the Birmingham (Ala.) Baptist Association. Earlier he was a church and community missionary in Montgomery and Birmingham for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Home (now North American) Mission Board.
“Rev. Creech has helped to lead the convention toward a bright future,” said DCBC president Larry Hentz. “In the time he’s been here, he has helped us to envision the great possibilities available to us as Baptists living in what is probably the most diverse region in the country. We are grateful for his service and wish him God’s best in all of his future endeavors.”
Under the new governance structure, the board of directors will appoint a seven-member search committee to identify the next executive director/minister.
“It is our hope that we will be able to expedite the search process so that we have someone in place to continue the forward movement that the convention has experienced under the leadership of Rev. Creech,” said Hentz.
— With additional reporting by Leslie Copeland-Tune, director of communications and resource development for the DCBC.