For the first time since 2005, two candidates will seek the office of president for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
The two candidates – Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, – sat down with Biblical Recorder Editor K. Allan Blume earlier this month to discuss a variety of topics that included why each decided to run for president, their qualifications for office and what they hope to accomplish if elected.
Earlier this year it appeared that only one candidate was going to run for the position. Bordeaux, who has served the last four years as second and first vice president, contacted Blanton and let him know that he had decided not to run.
In the May 25 issue of the Biblical Recorder, Blanton announced his intentions to accept a nomination for president. In late July, Bordeaux contacted Blanton and the Recorder to announce he had reconsidered his decision and would run after all.
“The more I prayed about it, the more the Lord began to change my heart and my mind,” said Bordeaux, during the hour-long interview recorded at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro on Sept. 10.
“I didn’t feel like I sought the office. In many ways I felt like the office sought me.”
“Yes, I did make the decision not to run, but then with encouragement from my family, from my church and many people across the state, I did change that position. I take full responsibility for that.”
Allan Blume, center, editor of the Biblical Recorder, asks questions of Bobby Blanton, left, and C.J. Bordeaux, candidates for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) president. Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, will be nominated at the BSC annual meeting Nov. 11-12. The Recorder met with the candidates Sept. 10 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro to ask them questions. See video or play below.
In the last election between two candidates nearly 8 years ago, Stan Welch, who was pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis at the time, defeated Blythe Taylor, the former associate minister of St. Johns Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Welch is now pastor of West Asheville Baptist Church in Asheville.
Both Bordeaux and Blanton voiced respect for the other and full support if either candidate wins. They also explained that their decisions to run did not have anything to do with any theological disagreement.
“I think I can say this, and he would agree … there’s not a half-a-teaspoon ounce of difference in our [theological] beliefs and convictions,” Bordeaux said. “I’m only seeking the office to continue serving my state, serving all of North Carolina Baptists and just being a part of what God is going to do and continue to do here in our great Tar Heel state.”
Blume asked both candidates to share why they felt uniquely qualified for the position.
“For whatever reason the Lord has put me in places of leadership all throughout my life,” said Blanton, who gave a brief summary of leadership opportunities that included everything from being the captain of his high school football and basketball teams to his years of service as a pastor, president of the BSC’s Board of Directors and serving on various committees of leadership for the convention.
“One of the greatest challenges that I’ve had in leadership is being the president of our Board of Directors,” Blanton said. “It was through that experience that [I] really gained a lot of valuable insights for me, relating to leadership.”
Blanton later added that though he has not served in a vice president officer role for the BSC, he believes anyone with North Carolina Baptist leadership experience should have the same opportunity to win the presidential position as someone who has served as first and second vice president.
“One of the trends I think we have slowly begin to creep toward in our convention is this idea of automatic succession,” Blanton said. “I’m certainly not an opponent of succession.
“Succession has proven to be very helpful for us, and we’ve had some great leaders that have been generated … from that,” added Blanton, who nominated Bordeaux the last two years for the office of first vice president.
Blanton explained that succession becomes a problem, however, when it is “automatic succession.” He contended there are many leaders who would make great presidents but don’t have years to invest to “get in line in the back of the train and ride that train for six years.”
“I just think it puts us in a place of disadvantage,” Blanton said. “I would say the office of president is much too important for it ever to be assumed.
“I have no disappointment with C.J. I just think … it’s a healthier trend for our convention that these kinds of positions, particularly that of the president, would be such that we would have a choice.”
Earlier during the interview Bordeaux brought up the topic by saying, “I do not in any way see moving into the office of the presidency as an automatic right or an automatic succession. … I had initially decided not to seek this office but I love our convention.”
Bordeaux later added, “I think what Bobby and I are doing is great for the convention. I don’t have any issues with it whatsoever, and again, he and I are going to be friends win or lose. But I just haven’t heard a lot of interest in the last several years about convention leadership.”
Blume asked Bordeaux why he feels qualified to serve as president. Bordeaux responded, “I don’t.”
“To be truthful, I don’t feel qualified,” he said. “I don’t know of any man or any woman that could actually say they are because it is such an incredible responsibility.”
“I have such great respect for the men that have gone before us over these many past years, but I really believe this is one of those positions that it cannot be done by a person,” he said. “It has to be done with the help of the Lord.”
During the discussion, Blanton and Bordeaux shared their thoughts on the BSC’s new strategy and restructuring that focuses on making disciples, church planting and reaching more lost areas of the state.
The new strategy and staff structure was approved by the BSC’s Executive Committee in the spring and will officially launch in January.
“I’m very excited about the new strategy,” said Blanton, who presided as president of the Board of Directors during the initial study to help formulate a new vision and plan for the BSC. “It’s a structure that I think is bold. I think it is exciting. … If North Carolina Baptists will embrace it and will rally around it, I think it will go a long way to help to impact the lostness that is already a part of North Carolina.”
Bordeaux also expressed support for the convention’s new strategy and called it a “powerful tool and great opportunity for North Carolina Baptists.”
“We’ve already seen some agreement and we’ve seen disagreement,” he said. “But I really do believe that the strategy that Dr. Hollifield has placed before us for the North Carolina Baptist State Convention and for North Carolina Baptists is really a stroke of genius.”
“We’ve done things one way, a certain way, for a long time. … This is breaking the mold, and I really see this model is going to help … and keep us on the cutting edge of the forefront of Kingdom ministry work for many years to come.”
Each candidate shared what he would like to accomplish if elected president of the BSC.
Blanton reinforced his support for the convention’s strategy to focus in on the lostness in the state.
“I feel very excited about the opportunities that we face in this state,” he said. “It’s staggering to think that of a population of 9.5 million people, it is estimated that 5.8 million people are unchurched.”
While international and North American missions are vital, Blanton said, North Carolina Baptists must not forget that “God has brought the world to our doorstep, and we must be able and willing to meet the challenges of that opportunity.”
Bordeaux said he’d like to focus more on church health and relationships between churches of different styles and sizes.
“I hear a lot of small church pastors say you don’t care about us,” he said. “Nobody calls upon us. Nobody knows who we are. They just want our money. And I think that sets a dangerous tone if they believe that.’’
He also expressed an interest in initiating a conversation or summit between both sides.
“I would hope that I’d have the opportunity to influence a conversation. … One of the privileges that the convention president does have is the opportunity to be heard.”
Both men challenged North Carolina Baptists to attend this year’s annual meeting Nov. 11-12 in Greensboro. See video or play below.