Church planting initiative among board highlights

by Chad Austin, BSCNC Communications
Thursday, May 25, 2017 | 333 days old

Baptist associations, church planting networks and individual churches could receive up to $10,000 in reimbursements for their investments in establishing new churches as part of a new pilot program being offered through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC).

The program was announced to members of the BSCNC’s Board of Directors during the board’s recent regularly scheduled meeting, held Monday and Tuesday, May 22-23, at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.

Under the program, the BSCNC’s Church Planting Team would reimburse up to $5,000 to associations, networks or sending churches for their investments in new church plants. Reimbursements would apply to funds invested during the first year of a new church plant’s existence.

Associations, networks and sending churches would also be eligible for up to an additional $5,000 if a new church plant is located in one of North Carolina’s top 100 pockets of lostness that have been identified by the Baptist state convention, bringing the total potential reimbursement amount to $10,000. 

In most cases, a pocket of lostness is a small geographic area where at least 70 percent of the population is unchurched.

The program will begin July 1, and convention leaders hope to work with 30 partners during the first year. Partners must be preapproved based on criteria developed by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The program will be evaluated after the first year.

The reimbursements would also require partners to reinvest funds in additional missions efforts in the state, either by supporting the second year of the church plant or by helping establish another church plant.

“This is a way that we can send people into the community to establish new churches,” said Lawrence Clapp, chair of the board’s Church Planting and Missions Partnerships Committee, in announcing the program.

While the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina does not directly support individual church planters or individual church plants, the convention does work with churches, associations and networks to help start new churches. Clapp said the new program provides a new approach to expand the convention’s support of church planting efforts.

Funding through sending churches currently exists through the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and state conventions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, Clapp said.

Through its partnerships, the BSCNC has helped start about 100 new churches annually since 2007.

Those interested in the program should contact Mark Gray, who leads the BSCNC’s Church Planting Team.

The board’s Executive Committee also approved a proposal to assist Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in establishing a new program that will provide theological education and training to inmates serving long-term sentences within the N.C. prison system. The BSCNC will provide Southeastern with a total of $69,500 over five years, beginning with an initial contribution of $36,000 in 2017.

The funds will help Southeastern cover capital costs associated with starting the North Carolina Field Minister Program. The program will offer inmates the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry. Graduates of the program would be designated as field ministers and appointed to ministry positons within prisons across the state. Southeastern plans to begin the program with an initial class of up to 30 inmates later this year.

“This new educational program in North Carolina aligns with our current strategy of impacting lostness through disciple-making and would enable us to help reach and minister to a population that is often overlooked and neglected,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the BSCNC.

The Board of Directors also unanimously passed a motion authorizing John Butler, executive leader for the convention’s Business Services Group, to negotiate a lease agreement with a private company to develop a solar farm on the property of Caraway Camp and Conference Center near Asheboro. If developed, the solar farm would be located on an unused section of Caraway’s property that would not be developed for use by the camp.

The board also voted unanimously to approve a motion calling for the transfer of 20 percent of the convention’s 2016 operating income over expenses to a contingency reserve fund. The transfer amount will equal $25,668.

In other business:

  • Board President Marc Francis appointed board members Ken Jones, Earl Roach and David Spray to serve on the nominating committee for Fruitland Baptist Bible College. Jones will serve as the chair of the committee, which has the responsibility of appointing three individuals to serve on Fruitland’s Board of Directors. The committee’s appointees will be presented to the BSCNC’s Board of Directors for approval at the board’s September meeting.
  • The Executive Committee approved a recommendation by the convention’s Committee on Nominations to appoint Kenneth Robinette and Nathan Sanders to the Board of the Directors for the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina. Robinette is a layperson from Rockingham First Baptist Church and will fill the 2018 unexpired term of Joan Mitchell. Sanders is a lay person from Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington and will fill the 2019 unexpired term of Wendy Peters.
  • The board approved six motions brought by the Articles and Bylaws Committee that updates language in the convention’s articles of incorporation and bylaws for consistency, establishes a new Convention Relations Special Committee to replace the former Christian Social Services Special Committee and changes the dates of the election of board officers from January to September. All proposed amendments will be voted on by messengers at the 2017 BSCNC Annual Meeting in Greensboro on Nov. 6-7. The proposed amendments will also be available online for review at least 30 days prior to the Annual Meeting.
  • The board voted to name a section of the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell as Holbrook Village in honor of longtime Caswell director Rick Holbrook. Holbrook is retiring at the end of May after 32 years of service.
  • The board heard an update from Hollifield and other convention staff members on the progress being made related to the “impacting lostness through disciple-making” strategy.

The board’s Executive Committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, July 13, at the BSCNC offices in Cary. The next meeting of the full Board of Directors is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 25-26, at Caraway Camp and Conference Center near Asheboro.