Baptist heads farmworker ministry

A Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond graduate and former human-trafficking specialist for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is new leader of the National Farm Worker Ministry.

By Bob Allen

Lindsay Comstock, an ordained Baptist minister and former human-trafficking specialist for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, is new executive director of the National Farm Worker Ministry, a faith-based organization advocating justice and empowerment for an estimated 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States.

lindsay comstockComstock, until recently minister of Christian education and youth at First Baptist Church of Worcester, Mass., succeeds Virginia Nesmith, who stepped down last year after 15 years. Comstock’s first order of business is relocating the ministry’s office from St. Louis to Raleigh, N.C.

Formed in 1920 as a service ministry to provide farmworkers with food, clothing and day care, the National Farm Worker Ministry shifted to advocacy in the 1960s when United Farm Worker founder Cesar Chavez called on the religious community to change its emphasis from charity to justice.

Today NFWM works with three national farmworker organizations — the United Farm Workers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee — and with two state-based groups in Oregon and Florida.

“It is an honor to join the long line of National Farm Worker Ministry leaders who have stood alongside farmworkers for more than 75 years,” Comstock said. “With an active board fully committed to our mission, a talented and committed staff, and a clear organizational purpose in equipping faith communities to support farmworker led efforts, I am confident National Farm Worker Ministry is well-positioned to face the challenges ahead. “  

Comstock holds degrees from Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C., and Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond. She served previously as associate pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., which ordained her to the gospel ministry in 2007.

She served four years as a human-trafficking specialist in Southeast Asia with the Atlanta-based CBF. Last year she joined the board of directors of the Alliance of Baptists. She has previously served with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and spoke at the [Baptist] Conference on Sexuality and Covenant co-sponsored by CBF and Mercer University in April 2012.