Members of the Baptist State Convention’s (BSC) Board of Directors tiptoed through one issue, barged through another and elected David Horton president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute during their meeting at Caraway Conference Center May 19-20.
Horton was pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Jamestown the past 16 years. His announcement as the Fruitland presidential nominee came April 3.
Horton spoke briefly before the vote saying that those who appreciate the ministry of Fruitland will “respect the past, protect the purpose and embrace the future” of North Carolina’s mountain school that prepares people for practical ministry.
In a bold move Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development, told board members that 61 percent of the churches they are from did not collect a North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) in 2008 and said, “That really is inexcusable.”
Register, who joined Convention staff Jan. 1, said the 4.5 million lost people in North Carolina are “all the reason we need” to be bold when asking churches to support NCMO’s “strategic ministries to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Convention staff then passed collection plates to receive gifts and pledges that totaled $13,550 from 86 board members present.
Later, Register took umbrage with a line in the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) publication Tarheel Talk that ran beneath a half-page NCMO ad, an ad Register said he had asked WMU-NC not to run.
The line said, “NCMO was invited to advertise through Tarheel Talk as in previous years but declined to do so.” It then listed the source for materials.
“I was surprised that we needed to advertise with the organization that is charged with supporting and promoting the missions offering,” he said.
He felt NCMO promotion should be free in the Tarheel Talk, rather than being asked to pay 11 cents per piece, the fee other organizations pay WMU-NC to cover the cost of printing and mailing an insert.
Fulbright came to the front to explain the charge is standard, and “we have to find funding to be able to produce the magazine.”
She said WMU-NC could not ignore the NCMO even though the NCMO office did not want to use the Tarheel Talk to promote the offering if it had to pay. If there was no NCMO promotion in Tarheel Talk, readers would have thought WMU-NC was “pulling back” from its support of the offering, which is not true, Fulbright said.
WMU-NC officers and staff have always said they will support NCMO, even though it is no longer a recipient of NCMO gifts.
Because many board members appear still to be smarting over WMU-NC’s decision to move out of the Baptist staff building in Cary, Board President Allan Blume had to finesse an earlier WMU request for time to report to the board.
There is still “confusion over where we are with WMU,” Blume said, and he was not sure if their change to ex officio status on the board should have any bearing on their request to make a report and introduce their new president, Delores Thomas.
Even organizations that are “clearly identified with us” only report once a year, he said. So he wondered aloud if the board should allow an organization “not clearly identified with us” to report as often.
“I am not going to take responsibility for defining all that,” Blume said. “I’m not the king.”
Because there was time available to hear such a report, Blume granted the request but said he would be waiting for Executive Committee guidance on handling such future requests.
Thomas, a member of Deep Springs Baptist Church in Peachland, was elected to her post in March.
“We are still here to serve the churches and we feel somewhat an obligation to keep you informed,” she said, and reported that WMU-NC had started 50 new organizations since December 2008.
The board approved $26,000 to produce a master plan for Caraway Conference Center and camp and announced a $25,000 gift toward those expenses from a private donor.
Todd Brady, pastor of The River Church in Fayetteville and chairman of the Church Planting and Missions Development Committee, said his group had adopted a mission statement: “Under God’s leadership and in partnership with other evangelicals, we will evangelize and congregationalize North Carolina and the world for Jesus.”
“We’re not going to win the world by ourselves,” Brady said. “We have to get rid of this separatist mindset.”
He said the North Carolina population has grown from 6.6 million in 1990 to 9.1 million today, and growth is anticipated to reach 9.7 million by 2019.
Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe and chairman of the Congregational Services committee, said the goal of staff in his area is “not behavior modification but life transformation.”
He also applauded the Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) as “the best life-changing conference we’ve ever been to.”
Aaron Wallace, chairman of the Evangelization Committee, wants to see 1,000 churches participate in the IECS conferences. Baptisms doubled in the year after staff from his church, Hephzibah Baptist in Wendell, participated and they tripled the year after that, he said.
He said 220 college students will be going out as summer missionaries this year.
During the Council on Christian Higher Education report, a question was asked if there has been “any thought for scholarship funds to students attending other schools, such as Liberty and North Greenville.”
North Carolina Baptists’ five affiliated educational institutions are in the second year of a four-year process to give up Cooperative Program funds in exchange for the ability to elect their own trustees. After two more years, the only funds from BSC to N.C. Baptist colleges will be for scholarships.
Joel Stephens, council chairman, said, “We will be looking at that” but current income trends prevent them from “entertaining it at this time.”
Jim Cashwell, missions minister with FBC Charlotte and an active partnership leader with N.C. Baptist Men, reported on work in Cuba where he takes two to four groups each year to build a retirement center for Cuban Baptists, and also a small medical center.
He said most Cuban Baptist pastors live in an apartment in the church building. When the pastor retires he must move out of the apartment, most often with nowhere to go. If he dies, his widow is evicted from the apartment when a successor is called.
“Please finish the retirement center so I’ll have a place to live,” one pastor’s widow told Cashwell on a recent building trip. She had been evicted when her husband’s successor was called to the church, and is homeless