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Convention’s church planting consultant Nevi Townsend dies in Ocala

By Barbara Denman

June 11, 2012


OCALA—Long time pastor, director of missions and church planting strategist Nevi A. Townsend, 81, died Monday, June 11 at an Ocala hospital after being transported there earlier that morning by emergency vehicle.


Townsend had been admitted to the hospital the Friday before his death complaining of chest pains but had returned home on Saturday.


Since 2000, Townsend served as a church planting consultant with the Florida Baptist Convention encouraging churches, associations and potential church planters to start new congregations.


In a 2011 interview, Townsend said church planting strategist had been one of the most rewarding roles of his ministry which spanned five decades. He was instrumental in starting more than 75 churches across Northeast Florida, an area stretching north from Leesburg and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf Coast.


In that 2011 article, Cecil Seagle, who is now retired as director of the Convention’s Missions Division, said Townsend “was one of the most effective church planter strategists in Florida Baptist life.”


“Nevi’s value is in his tenacity, his networking, his sensitivity to pastors and planters and his ability to work through all of this toward a successful church plant,” said Seagle. “Nevi leads the Church Planting Department in new church starts and has for several years.”


Born Oct. 27, 1930, the sixth generation Floridian served as pastor for more than 35 years, with 30 of those in his home state. He served as director of missions for the Indian River Baptist Association with offices in Fort Pierce and for a two-year stint as volunteer coordinator of the Florida Baptist partnership with eastern Dakotas.


A graduate of Jacksonville University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Townsend and his wife, Doris, had three sons.


Two of his sons have followed his footsteps in the gospel ministry. Gary Townsend is director of the church staff benefits office for the Florida Baptist Convention; and son Terry Townsend is pastor of First Baptist Church in Wellington. A third son, Kenneth of West Palm Beach, serves as a deacon in his church.


Townsend has served in various capacities in Florida Baptist State Convention life, serving on the State Board of Missions from 1978-1980 and the Committee on Time, Place and Preacher from 1977-1978 and 1982-1983.


He was a long-time member of First Baptist Church of Ocala.

Funeral arrangements for Nevi Townsend, Florida Baptists’ church planting consultant, have been confirmed.

Services are set for Thursday, June 14 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Ocala. Visitation will be held Wednesday, June 13 from 5-7 p.m. at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, 910 SE Silver Springs Blvd. Burial will take place at the Townsend Family Cemetery in Bell at 4 p.m. June 14.

Nevi Townsend is survived by his wife, Doris, and sons, Gary Townsend, director of the Convention’s Church Staff Benefits Office; Terry Townsend, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wellington; and Kenneth Townsend, West Palm Beach, and their families.  

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