As a graduate student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lewis W. Newman studied the needs of pastors in Texas and on the basis of that study developed an in-service guidance (ISG) program at the University of Corpus Christi. The program was further developed with the cooperation and support of Woodrow Fuller of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas also encouraged the development of a course syllabus, being used at the University of Corpus Christi, into a basic textbook for a three-hour semester course. This course was to be taught in the Baptist schools of Texas; hence, the publication of “Understanding Baptist Life,” edited by Lewis W. Newman.
In 1959, the Home Mission Board (HMB) added Lewis Newman to its staff and under his leadership, the Home Mission Board began to adopt in-service guidance programs.
The Mississippi Baptist Convention, under the leadership of Therman Bryant, made ISG an official state program and encouraged each of the Baptist colleges to participate. Therman Bryant, from the state office; Charles Melton, from Clarke Memorial College; Norman O’Neal, from Mississippi College; Joel Ray, from William Carey College; and James Travis, from Blue Mountain College, adapted and expanded the Texas book to fit the Mississippi situation and wrote “An Introduction to Baptist Work,” 1962, which was used in each of the above-mentioned schools.
In the early 1960’s pilot projects were begun at three Baptist schools:
- Carson-Newman College, under Nat Bettis (a former teacher at the University of Corpus Christi)
- Southwest Baptist College, under H.K. Neely (President Robert Craig also taught at the University of Corpus Christi)
- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, under Garland Hendricks
Growth and Expansion
In 1964, C. Wilson Brumley (a former trustee of the University of Corpus Christi) joined the HMB staff as the associate to Lewis Newman in the Department of Rural-Urban Missions. Under C. Wilson Brumley’s leadership eighteen Baptist colleges and universities, three Bible schools and five seminaries participated in the ISG program sponsored by the HMB. The majority of directors from these institutions participated regularly in the annual HMB-sponsored summer conferences for ISG directors.
On January 1, 1968, Roy W. Owen, assistant secretary in the Department of Rural-Urban Missions came to the HMB to assist C. Wilson Brumley in the development of further assistance to schools interested in this type of in-service guidance. It was his responsibility to lead in developing the In-Service Guidance Manual; which was the department’s attempt to provide a history, a philosophy and some objectives for a ministry to students preparing for service in churches throughout the denomination.
By 1970 four additional schools had programs, bringing the total to twenty-six. In 1973 thirty-two schools, including all six Southern Baptist seminaries, were represented on the mail-out list. In 1978 there were forty-four Baptist schools in thirteen states with some type of ISG program. Growth during these years came while Larry Bryson, James Nelson, J. T. Burdine and Quentin Lockwood provided Home Mission Board leadership.
Officers were elected for the first time at the ISG Directors’ Meeting in 1979 at Galveston, Texas. J. W. Ousley of Baylor University was chosen as president, Russell Bennett of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was elected Vice President and James Byrd of Louisiana College was elected Secretary. The following year, 1980, a constitution was adopted. In 1981, Bill Neptune, from Oklahoma Baptist University, assisted the HMB/ISG program; first as a Mission Service Volunteer and then as a full-time consultant. He retired in 1993 and returned to serve as a Mission Service Corps Volunteer annually.
Moving toward Independence
In 1994, the ISG Directors approved the establishment of an archive file to be located at Baylor University. In 1996, the ISG Directors voted to establish an official Executive Committee and to seek incorporation. On August 8, 1998, the In-Service Guidance Association (ISGA) was incorporated as a non-profit corporation by the State of Oklahoma. As the organization matured, bylaws establishing a Board of Directors were adopted in 1999 and amended in 2002.
On July 31, 2009, the ISGA established full autonomy from outside entities and adopted a restated Certificate of Formation (Articles of Incorporation) with the State of Texas. With this action, the organization’s name changed to the Association of Ministry Guidance Professionals. By 2019 the Board of Directors realized the need for a further step of restructuring the Association and in 2021 revised the bylaws to reduce the number of officers and committees and establish a staff position for an Executive Director/Treasurer.