Board names new president, prepares for new ministry yearby BSCNC Communications
During the first meeting of 2012, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Board of Directors elected a new president, heard financial and committee reports, and was challenged to a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program.
Michael Barrett, pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden, was elected Board president. Board Vice President Phil Qualls nominated Barrett, a pastor of more than 36 years.
“I have seen the consistency of him being a follower of Christ,” Qualls said. “The Lord has prepared him for this role at this time.”
Barrett has served as chairman of the Program, Place and Preacher Committee and Committee on Nominations. For eight years he served as a trustee for the International Mission Board and two years he was vice chairman of the trustee board.
Outgoing president Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, served two years as president. Blanton also served last year as president of the annual pastor’s conference held in conjunction with the BSCNC annual meeting.
In August 2011, the Executive Committee referred the Vision Fulfillment Committee report to BSCNC staff. The Executive Committee directed the staff to develop ministry responses and a long-range mission strategy based on the report.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSCNC executive director-treasurer, worked with BSCNC executive leadership to establish three committees to help study and make recommendations regarding issues raised in the report: communications, church planting/existing churches, and strategic development. The communications and church planting/existing churches committees have already begun their work, and the strategic development committee begins in April.
Cooperative Program-Doing More Together
Although the Convention finished last year 8.7 percent behind budget, it still came in about $150,000 in the black. “Carefully controlling expenses and utilizing technology to leverage time and effort have been a major part in helping us be able to stay in the black,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield pointed to the state’s economy as one reason for the income shortfall, as North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country.
He also credited diminishing Cooperative Program support as a reason for the shortfall. “Since 2006, in North Carolina there has been a 20 percent decline in actual contributions to the Cooperative Program,” he said. “In spite of the decline, the actual dollar amount from Cooperative Program receipts sent from North Carolina to the Southern Baptist Convention has increased by almost four percent.”
Hollifield said perhaps the greatest factor driving diminishing support of the Cooperative Program is the decline in stewardship among Christians. “Christians currently give approximately 2.5 percent of their incomes to their churches. That is lower than the percentage given during the Great Depression,” Hollifield said.
Despite the challenges, Hollifield said the Convention will stay the course. “We will continue to pray and trust our God to supply the financial support we need to do missions and ministry,” he said. “I consider our marching orders to be the Great Commission. We are going to continue to focus on the mission before us: assisting the churches in reaching the lost in North Carolina and North America, as well as the nations, with the gospel.”
Hollifield reminded the Board that the Convention’s efforts to stay the course will look different from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), as the BSCNC is not a mirror of the SBC. “I greatly value and appreciate the missions and ministry efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I am grateful for the partnership between our state convention and the SBC," Hollifield said. "However, this state convention has been charged with responsibilities that the SBC has not been charged to do.”
Hollifield urged Board members to help lead their churches to support the Cooperative Program. “We continue to challenge the churches to realize the possibilities when we cooperate together. We can do more working together than we can ever accomplish working separately,” he said.
Giving to special offerings was up in 2011. Gifts to the North Carolina Missions Offering, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering all saw significant increase, especially Lottie Moon, which was up about $1 million.
Elections and Reports
During the January Board meeting the Board’s committees each elect a chairman who not only helps lead that committee, but also serves on the Convention’s Executive Committee.
Individuals elected to serve this year are: Business Services Committee, Jimmy Adams, layperson, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Greensboro; Christian Higher Education, Rit Varriale, pastor, Elizabeth Baptist Church, Shelby; Christian Life and Public Affairs, Jarrod Scott, pastor, Green Pines Baptist Church, Raleigh; Christian Social Services, Wanda Dellinger, layperson, Green Street Baptist Church, High Point; Church Planting and Missions Development, Todd Marlow, pastor, Westmoreland Baptist Church, Charlotte; Communications, Jon Hall, pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte; Congregational Services, Patrick Fuller, pastor, Southside Baptist Church, Greensboro; Evangelization, Randy White, Director of Missions, New South River Association.
The four individuals elected to serve as at-large Executive Committee members are: Mike Ivey, pastor of West Cramerton Baptist Church, Cramerton; Rob Roberts, Director of Missions, Chowan Association; Tracey Bolick, layperson from Laurel Springs Baptist Church, Deep Gap; and Sandy Marks, pastor of Alexis Baptist Church, Alexis.
Leroy Burke, pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Lumberton, was appointed chairman of the Committee on Nominations. Becky Black, layperson from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Knightdale, will fill the unexpired term of Robyn Kerr on this committee, and Hannah Modrell, layperson from First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, will fill the unexpired term of Sandra Harrison.
The only motion brought before the Board from a committee came from Business Services. The committee asked that the Caraway subcommittee be authorized to contract the development of construction documents for an additional lodging facility to be located adjacent to the current conference center (visit www.caraway.org for more on Caraway facility expansions). The motion was approved, and Caraway’s “New Beginnings Capital Campaign” will fund the construction documents.
In other committee reports, Patrick Fuller updated the Board on Congregational Services’ disciple-making emphasis. This year North Carolina Baptists are encouraged to attend a “Looking at your church in 3-D” event, which will help churches discover, develop and deliver a strategy in order to be more effective in disciple-making.
Randy White gave an update on the Find it Here Easter emphasis. As part of this year’s Find It Here: Expanding the Kingdom (www.finditherenc.org) missions mobilization focus, North Carolina Baptists are invited to join an intentional Easter evangelism emphasis. For the past two years, hundreds of churches across the state have participated and have seen the gospel change lives.
On May 8, North Carolinians will vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
“We want to challenge and encourage you to lift high the biblical standard of marriage,” said Jarrod Scott, chairman of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee (CLPA). “We need pastors who will champion marriage. Teach from the pulpit about the biblical standard of marriage and help expose your membership to issues in society about marriage.”
The committee provided Board members with resources about the biblical view of marriage and about the amendment. These resources will also be available to pastors.
Great Commission Partnerships
Michael Sowers, senior consultant for Great Commission Partnerships, reported that a three-year research study is underway to identify unreached people groups in North Carolina. Study results will help North Carolina Baptists be more effective in sharing the gospel with those who do not know Jesus Christ.
Sowers updated the Board on Convention partnerships. New churches started last year in New York City, that will be high priority partnership churches this year, include two Hispanic church plants in Queens, polish and Indian church plants in New Jersey, a multiethnic church plant on Long Island, and two church planting centers in Queens.
In Toronto, churches have been started for immigrants and messianic Jews, and a multiethnic church plant is also underway. Proposed church plants will also target young professionals and people living in a high-rise apartment complex.
“There are people in your neighborhoods and around the world who this very hour are begging for someone to stand at their door with the good news of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission says we are to go and to teach all that was commanded to us,” Sowers said. “In 2012, my prayer is that we will be faithful to be among those who stand at the door.”
Dana Hall shared during the NC Baptist Men report that Hurricane Irene disaster relief efforts continue in areas such as Pamlico and Dare counties. NCBM volunteers recently completed four homes for disaster victims in Bertie and Hertford counties. Recovery efforts are beginning in Burke County following the tornado earlier this month.
The annual NC Baptist Missions Conference will be held April 13-14 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte (www.baptistsonmission.org).
Hall also shared that college students can sign up to participate in a local, national or international Transform122 missions week. Transform 122 is a partnership between NCBM and Baptist Campus Ministry.
Sandy Gregory, Director of North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM), shared about the ongoing work to minister physically and spiritually to aging adults. Gregory said this work is critical, as one out of every five people is 50 years old or older. In the next 15-20 years, in 70 North Carolina counties, the 65 and older population will outnumber the 0-18 population.
Evangelism is a priority for NCBAM. About 85-90 percent of calls to the NCBAM call center, which helps connect aging adults and their families with resources to meet their needs, are from people who do not go to church.
On April 28, NCBAM will partner with NC Baptist Men and Operation Inasmuch for “Rampin’ Up,” a day devoted to building wheelchair ramps for aging adults.
Executive Director Clay Warf shared that the North Carolina Baptist Foundation is encouraging North Carolina Baptists to practice good stewardship by beginning this year by writing a will. “Make estate planning your greatest act of Christian stewardship,” he said.
Last year the Foundation distributed $8 million to Christian charities and the Church Growth Investment Fund was up by 12 percent.
“We want to help North Carolina Baptists be good stewards of what God has entrusted them,” Warf said.
The Foundation (www.ncbaptistfoundation.org) is available to assist individuals and Baptist entities with charitable giving such as endowments, funds and trusts; Christian estate planning through a last will and testament, life insurance, and retirement plans; and church loans and church growth investments.
The next Board of Directors meeting is May 22-23 at Caraway Conference Center.
*Photos courtesy Shawn Hendricks, Biblical Recorder Managing Editor