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Board creates committee to find N.C. way
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
September 29, 2010

Board creates committee to find N.C. way

Board creates committee to find N.C. way
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
September 29, 2010

After the Baptist State

Convention (BSC) board of directors determined it was not feasible to alter the

North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), members approved a special vision fulfillment

committee to discern and affirm a North Carolina Baptist approach to fulfilling

Great Commission mandates.

Meeting Sept. 28 at Fort

Caswell Assembly the board also approved a BSC health insurance plan to control

costs for employees and retirees; approved a new missions partnership with

Moldova; approved the $32,685,480 budget recommended earlier by the Executive

Committee; recommended several amendments to articles of incorporation and

bylaws; approved a 2011 North Carolina Missions Offering goal of $2.1 million,

the same goal as 2010, and permitted Caraway Conference Center to solicit

churches in February for its capital campaign.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Baptist State Convention leadership evaluates essential agenda items during Sept. 28 board meeting at Fort Caswell as bad weather approaches. From left, Brian Davis, Milton Hollifield, Bobby Blanton, John Butler, and Convention attorney John Small.

Board members crammed a day

and a half meeting into one long day, ending at 10 p.m., to be able to leave

Fort Caswell early the next morning ahead of another swell of rain that dropped

10 inches on Wilmington the day before and had closed roads around the coastal

city.

NCMO findings

North Carolina Baptist

churches will keep receiving a statewide North Carolina Missions Offering that

supports N.C. Baptist Men and church planting after a study showed it “simply

not feasible, nor in our best interests” to eliminate the offering, according

to Board President Bobby Blanton.

Blanton had appointed a

study committee in response to a May motion from board member Austin Rammell to

“examine the feasibility” of moving Baptist Men and church planting into the

Cooperative Program budget to reflect the priorities Baptists claim. In

exchange, Rammell’s motion suggested moving “non-priority” items out of the

budget and into a new special offering.

Blanton named to the

committee officers of the Convention and of the board, several executive

committee members and one member at large.

The committee held an

invitation-only listening session Sept. 2 at the Summit Church in Durham,

inviting a group designated by Rammell. Seven attended.

Although the committee

determined “it was not feasible” to affirm Rammell’s motion “without doing harm

to the ministries the NCMO was intended to support,” the committee also felt

the exercise was valuable and “we need to continue to listen to all voices

across this state,” Blanton said.

So at the board meeting,

Blanton proposed a committee that would gather input from Baptists of

“partner churches” across the state.

Blanton, pastor of Lake

Norman Baptist Church in Mooresville, repeatedly maintained North Carolina

Baptists are a diverse group and said, “the time is right” to invite the input

of all North Carolina Baptists to determine with Executive Director-treasurer

Milton A. Hollifield Jr. how best to discern, affirm and fund North Carolina

Baptist efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.

The Executive Committee

endorsed the idea fairly easily but it nearly ran aground later that evening

when the full board considered it. It almost disintegrated into

generational tensions when Alan Smith of Lake Wylie Baptist Church implied that

such an effort gives too much influence to young pastors.

Smith said avenues for input

already are in place and, “It’s a sign of weakness to cater to a generation

that always wants its way immediately.”

“It’s a selfish generation,”

Smith said. The “more mature, older” leaders “need to hold the standard” and

not “allow a few people to dictate to us how the structure should function.”

Blanton said it is “no

secret” that the seven persons in the listening session related to the NCMO

discussion were “next generation pastors.” He said Baptist seminaries are

training the next generation that “like it or not” will be leading the

Convention.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Bobby Blanton, left, explains the board’s response to earlier motion by Austin Rammell that would have moved North Carolina Mission Offering priorities into the Cooperative Program budget.

“But there are other voices

in the Convention that would disagree with those voices,” Blanton said. The

listening sessions and study committee will be an effort to be sure all voices

have input.

In discussion the new committee’s

focus was clearly directed toward the vision Hollifield has published in his “Seven

Pillars for Ministry,” which outlines the areas of emphasis he feels will help

North Carolina Baptists “become the strongest force in the history of this

convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel.”

Aaron Wallace, pastor of

Hephzibah Baptist Church, said the purpose of a vision fulfillment committee

would not be to present a blank slate and ask, “What do you think we should be

doing?”

Instead, he said, “We believe Milton has given us a great vision in the

seven pillars” and input from N.C. Baptists would be to “hear if we’re carrying

these out in the most effective way.”

The “Seven Pillars” are: practice fervent prayer; promote evangelism and church growth; strengthen existing churches; plant new multiplication churches; increase work with the international community; escalate technology improvements and upgrade the web site; and reclaim the younger generation of church leaders.

Bill Gay felt too many

questions remained and asked for a decision to be tabled until the January

board meeting. His request required a two-thirds majority and it barely failed

38-20.

Blanton will appoint seven

members of the vision fulfillment committee in consultation with the Baptist

State Convention president to be elected in November. Current President Ed

Yount, pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, is the only announced

candidate.

Five other members will be

officers of the Baptist State Convention and the president and vice president

of the board. The committee will begin work in January 2011 to study “partner

churches” perceptions of the North Carolina Convention’s effectiveness in

funding and implementing our vision, namely the seven pillars for ministry,”

Blanton said in his proposal.

The vision committee is to

report its findings to the BSC Executive Committee in August 2011 and to the

full board in September 2011.

Not GCR task force

“This is not a Great

Commission Resurgence task force, but a study of how North Carolina Baptists

can craft a model that suits us,” said Blanton.

Three other state

conventions — Kentucky, Florida and Nevada — will consider their own GCR task

force recommendations in November that will dramatically alter state convention

ministries if approved.

Seven Pillars for Ministry is available through the Baptist State Convention and here (pdf).

“It is extremely important

to reach under reached peoples of the world, and it is equally important to

reach those in the area where God has placed us to serve,” Hollifield said.

“The heart of the issue is

let’s measure our effectiveness,” said Wallace, also a member of the Rammell

motion study committee.

Rather than be reactive to “all

the things floating out there” Wallace said the board should be proactive and

tie the Convention’s priorities to Hollifield’s seven pillars.

Hollifield said the vision

fulfillment committee’s work would “help answer questions” about whether N.C.

Baptist church leaders are satisfied with how the Convention is using mission

gifts from churches.

“It’s an opportunity to hear

more voices and to consider the effectiveness of what we’re doing,” said

Hollifield, who declared his support for the committee. He said he’s been

evaluating that very thing “for years” and “great things are happening.”

“But this is an opportunity

for us to again give North Carolina Baptists’ input for vision and direction on

where we’re moving as a Convention,” he said.

In the Executive Committee

meeting David Richardson of First Creedmoor Baptist Church thought the

committee is a “wise move” because his church is typical of many, he said, that

feel “very detached from what the Convention is doing.”

“Churches have felt out of

the loop forever,” said Joe Denson. “Anything we can do to bring people on

board is a perfect excuse for doing it.”

“The purpose of all this is

to settle on what we feel are the unique opportunities of this state,” Blanton

said. “We want as much as possible to be inclusive to all those voices …

because this is a very diverse state.”

Moldova partnership

The board approved

initiating a partnership with Moldova Baptists through the new BSC office of Great

Commission partnerships.

Executive Leader for Church

Planting and Missions Development Chuck Register, Boone optometrist Jeff Sutton

and Sutton’s pastor Allan Blume conducted a vision trip to Moldova where they

met with pastors of the Baptist unions there and with International Mission

Board representatives.

Blume is pastor of Mount

Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, which already is traveling to Moldova and

Sutton has been going there about 10 years.

Moldova borders Ukraine and

has little evangelical witness, although it is not “unreached” by IMB

definitions.

Moldovan Baptists send

missionaries, too, primarily to Eastern Europe where they minister among

Muslims, a group they can gain access to more easily than can Americans.

“Moldova is one of the most

open countries in the world,” said Blume, who has traveled extensively. He said no

special visas are required and “the people are open and hungry for leadership.”

“This is the best

opportunity I’ve seen in my life to capitalize on hunger and openness to share

Christ,” he said.

Several immediate moves for

North Carolina Baptists will be to host in Moldova a nationwide pastors’

conference; to conduct an evangelistic outreach in each of the 33 districts, utilizing

at least one North Carolina church in each; to host a discipleship conference

and to conduct a spiritual retreat for Moldovan missionaries.

Other actions

When Blue Cross Blue Shield

announced a 20 percent increase for BSC health insurance premiums, BSC

Executive Leader for Business Services John Butler proposed an alternate plan which the

Executive Committee approved. It will hold down costs both for the Convention

and employees.

Butler asked the Recorder to refrain from carrying the details

of the plan until it could be shared with employees Oct. 12. Look for details

later.

Articles of Incorporation

and Bylaws amendments consist primarily of cleaning up the massive changes of

the past two years for consistency and punctuation. Two amendments add

flexibility for the Convention to notify churches about issues messengers will

deal with at annual meetings by allowing notification to churches by mail,

through the Biblical Recorder print edition, the Biblical Recorder website and

the Convention’s website.

Caraway Conference Center is

preparing for a multi-million dollar campaign for upgrades at the mid-state

site. A campaign committee is at work and it received permission to solicit

church contributions in a one-time effort in February.

The board approved the 2011

budget of $32,685,480 to present to messengers in November. It is a $2.1

million below the 2010 budget and $6.6 million below the 2009 budget. Gifts

through Sept. 17 are $1.9 million or 8 percent below 2009 income.

The 2011 budget includes the sixth straight one-half percentage point increase to ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention, bringing the Cooperative Program division to 65/35 between the BSC and SBC.

Dennis Harrell, retired

pastor from Lumberton, was named to fulfill the unexpired term of JoAnn

Sanderson on the Biblical Recorder board. Sanderson resigned to devote time to

national and international mission trips.