The recent edition of the Biblical Recorder briefly surveyed numerous highlights of the 2014 year. The stories, chosen by the BR staff, in this section highlight notable events in both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Southern Baptist Convention
1. NAMB chaplains
Chaplaincy is one of six areas of focus for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) evangelism group. Chaplains are able to minister in hard places around the world. In 2014 NAMB focused on providing support and appreciation for chaplains, educating churches on chaplain ministry, and developing a strategy to help pastors and leaders incorporate chaplains into ministry plans. They also developed a long-term strategy for church planting at nearly every U.S. military base in the world.
2. Mental health council named
Executive Committee president Frank S. Page named a 23-member volunteer advisory body of local church leaders and professionals in the mental health field to advise him on possible ways to better communicate with churches about mental health ministry needs, while also resourcing them. Four from North Carolina were named to the group: Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Doug Carver, a member of First Baptist Church in Matthews and executive director for chaplaincy at the North American Mission Board; Brad Hambrick, pastor of counseling at The Summit Church in Durham; and Sam Williams, professor of counseling at Southeastern Seminary.
3. ‘Third Way’ church
The Executive Committee (EC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) withdrew fellowship from New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., when pastor Danny Cortez advocated a “third way” perspective on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The EC’s action marked the first time the committee has withdrawn fellowship from a church on behalf of the convention. The SBC, the California Southern Baptist Convention and the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association each disagreed with the claim that unity requires granting church membership to persons who affirm homosexual behavior.
4. David Platt elected IMB president
The election of David Platt on Aug. 27 as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (IMB) brought praise and calls for prayer from Southern Baptists. He succeeds Tom Elliff who served as IMB president since March 2011. Platt, 36, is the youngest leader in the history of the 169-year-old Southern Baptist mission organization. Platt’s passion for people lost without Christ – and his calling to reach them – inspired members of IMB’s trustee search committee.
5. SBC pastor care line
Southern Baptist pastors now have a place to turn thanks to a new partnership between the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Focus on the Family. On Oct. 1 they launched a care line, (844) PASTOR1, for Southern Baptist pastors, staff, chaplains and missionaries. NAMB partnered with Focus on the Family in part because the ministry has more than two decades of experience hosting a pastor crisis care line. The phone line is available weekdays between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST.
Baptist State Convention of N.C.
1. N.C. Baptists seek ‘Greater Things’ at annual meeting
The annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) was held this year on Nov. 10-11 in Greensboro. Over 1,800 attendees heard reports and took decisive action to elect officials and vote on bylaws, budgets and resolutions. Three officers were elected during the annual meeting: Timmy Blair, president; Cameron McGill, first vice president; and Joel Stephens, second vice president. Together N.C. Baptists prayed John 14:12 asking God to do “Greater Things.” In mid-October, the BSC Board of Directors approved a reduced Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2015. This CP budget of $29 million is $1 million less than 2014, and it was approved by church messengers during the meeting. The budget increases the percentage going to the Southern Baptist Convention to 37 percent, up from 36.5 percent in 2014.
2. NCBM continues to clean up after April tornadoes
The April 25 tornado outbreak left great damage to the North Carolina towns of Elizabeth City and Washington. More than 35 volunteers from Baptists on Mission (formerly known as North Carolina Baptist Men) began work on April 27 in both cities to help homeowners clean up from the storm. At the annual meeting in November, John Gore reported that volunteers are finishing the work in those cities.
3. N.C. Baptist Collegiate Ministry restructured
North Carolina is home to more than 200 colleges and universities where 39,800 faculty are educating more than 591,000 students from every state and most countries around the world. In 2014, N.C. Baptists intensified efforts to utilize this prime opportunity to evangelize the world from their home state. Baptist Campus Ministries was restructured in 2013 to provide consultants who encourage local churches to take ownership of the college ministry opportunities on the campuses near their churches by forming collegiate partnerships.
Also, the convention received a proposal to purchase the Battle House on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Baptists also own properties on the campuses of Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, N.C. State and UNC Asheville. The Asheville property is currently for sale.
4. Happiness Retreats Celebrate 40 years
Five Happiness Retreats were held in 2014 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the event. More than 700 people with special needs attended the three-day retreats at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro and Truett Camp in Hayesville. Since the first Happiness retreat at Caraway in 1974, the objective has been to provide a fun camp experience while making disciples among special needs adults in North Carolina.