NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time in its 130-year history, Lifeway Christian Resources will have an African American woman as trustee chair. Missie Branch was elected Tuesday, March 8, by Lifeway trustees during a special-called meeting.   

Branch is assistant dean of students to women and director of graduate life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. A member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., Branch began her service on the board in 2017.   

Lifeway CEO Ben Mandrell shared his excitement about this historic moment and praised Branch’s leadership ability, character and love for the local church.   

“Missie’s character, commitment to the local church, and investment in tomorrow’s ministry leaders give me confidence that she’s the person to lead our board,” Mandrell said. “I’m excited and thankful for her historic appointment as the first African American female to chair our board.   

“Missie is a bright person with a tremendous amount of insight and an inner strength from the Lord. I believe she will be a strong, unifying leader. She is a great friend to Lifeway, and I look forward to our deepened partnership.”  

Branch expressed her appreciation for the board and their trust in her to lead them well.  

“I am humbled by the confidence of my fellow board members,” Branch said. “Leading alongside a group like ours is an honor. When asked to join the board a few years ago, I never anticipated an opportunity like this. I love serving an organization whose mission is directly linked to the ministry and mission of the local church. I’m determined to work with my fellow board members as we seek to honor the Lord and serve our convention.”  

Branch was elected vice chair during the trustee meeting held Jan. 25. She will now fill the role vacated by Greg Kannady, who stepped down as chair due to a recent health issue. While Kannady plans to continue his service as a board member, he shared with trustees via email he felt it would be wise to replace him as board chair.   

Mandrell offered his appreciation for Kannady’s continued commitment to Lifeway. “We’re all praying for Greg and his family as they face this health challenge together,” Mandrell said.  

Trustees also elected Luther McDaniel, Chief Financial Officer at Empirical Capital Partners, to serve as vice chair. McDaniel has served on the board since 2016. He’s a member of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tenn.  

“Luther McDaniel’s financial and business expertise is invaluable as he steps into the vice chair role,” Mandrell said. “I’m grateful for his leadership and for the other men and women who faithfully serve on our board.”  

Ben Posey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Leroy, Ala., will continue to serve as recording secretary. “I so appreciate Ben’s servant leadership and devotion to serving Christ and His church,” Mandrell said. “The church he pastors is similar to a large majority of Southern Baptist churches—churches that rely on the resources Lifeway provides. It’s indispensable to have pastors like Ben providing feedback and speaking into those resources.”  

The next Lifeway trustee meeting is scheduled for August 29-30, 2022.