The budget, election of new executive committee members and the May 8 vote on a marriage amendment were among the top issues of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Board of Directors meeting Jan. 24-25 at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia.
Directors also heard reports of how their church’s offering dollars are helping start new churches here and abroad, while helping to strengthen existing churches throughout the state.
The economy continues to take its toll on churches around the country and in the state – with unemployment hovering just under 10 percent. But Milton Hollifield, BSC’s executive director-treasurer, said there is plenty to be thankful for – especially in regards to giving to the state’s mission offering, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
The state’s Lottie Moon offering received $12,592,515.44 last year, which is 8.07 percent more than 2010.
The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions received $5,622,011.99, which is a 7.18 percent increase over 2010.
“We can rejoice in that,” Hollifield said.
“North Carolina churches continue to lead all state conventions in gifts to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong.”
The North Carolina Missions Offering received $1,917,740.06, which is 2.49 percent over the 2010 offering. The goal for 2012 is $2.1 million. The offering helps support church planting in the state, and it also supports the ministries of N.C. Baptist Men, who recently completed four homes destroyed by tornados last April.
Cooperative Program (CP) giving for 2011, however, was 8.78 percent behind budget. N.C. Baptists gave $29, 814,748.77 – a deficit of $2,870,731.23. Preliminary reports for last year, however, show the convention finished the year in the “black.”
In spite of the decline, the actual dollar amount from CP receipts sent from the state to the Southern Baptist Convention has increased by nearly 4 percent since 2006, Hollifield said. See related story here.
“Even though we’ve had less dollars,” Hollifield said, “we’re sending more and I thank God for that.”
Hollifield also addressed concerns from some who contend the convention is investing too many resources in church planting, instead of helping existing churches in North Carolina.
“The staff invests a lot of time in helping smaller [existing] churches,” he said. “We want to create more healthy churches – we’re offering resources. I am in more smaller churches than I’m in larger [churches],” he said. “We can do more by working together than we can ever accomplish separately.”
‘Begging’ for the gospel
Hollifield praised reports regarding ongoing North Carolina mission partnerships in places such as Toronto, Moldova, Southeast Asia and New York. In New York, five new church plants have been started along with two church planting centers.
The Convention also plans to work with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary over the next three years to identify unreached people groups in the state. This research will provide statistical data on people who do not know the gospel of Jesus Christ, said Michael Sowers, who directs Great Commission partnerships for BSC.
BR photo by Shawn Hendricks
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., left, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention, presents a gavel to Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, for his service as president of the Board of Directors.
“A lot of times we go to the airports, and we pass by the very people we’re getting on a plane to go and take the gospel to,” Sowers said.
The Board also heard a report on how they can become involved with the May 8 vote on a marriage amendment that would define marriage to be only between a man and a woman. Last November, the Convention voted unanimously to support the amendment.
Jarrod Scott, newly elected chairman of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee for the Board of Directors, challenged pastors to “hold up marriage” in the pulpits.
“We need pastors who will champion marriage – not only by their lifestyle, their personal life but also from the pulpit to teach what does the Bible have to say about marriage,” Scott said.
Scott cautioned the Board to be aware of legal limits that prohibit them from using their influence as Board members or as pastors to tell people how they should and shouldn’t vote. He encouraged them to preach on how God defines marriage in the Bible. To read more about legal limitations on this issue, see the guest column by Brian Davis, BSC’s executive leader for administration and convention relations.
“This is a very emotional debate for a lot of folks,” Davis said. “It would be very easy for media outlets to contact you as a member of the board and draw you into a debate and emotionally charge it.”
Each member of the Board was given a binder with articles from opponents and proponents of the amendment and information on its history and comparisons with other states. Steve Corts, pastor of Center Grove Baptist in Clemmons, compiled the information.
It is available by contacting Davis at the BSC at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5506, or [email protected]. To read more on this issue, go to clpablog.org.
Michael Barrett, pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden, was elected president of the Board. Phil Qualls, retired pastor of Apex Baptist Church in Apex and vice president of the Board, was reelected as vice president and nominated Barrett.
Barrett has pastored three churches in North Carolina and has pastored for more than 36 years. He has served at Pleasant Garden for the last 24 years as well as on various Baptist committees in the state and on the Board of Directors. He served as an IMB (International Mission Board) trustee for eight years. He and his wife, Teresa, have been married for 38 years, and they have two grown daughters. He and his wife were foster parents for 13 years and cared for 52 children. Barrett replaced Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, who completed his four-year term on the Board.
Teresa Jones, executive assistant for administration of the BSC, was reelected as Board secretary. All officers ran unopposed.
Four members of the Board were elected to serve as at-large members of the Executive Committee.
Todd Marlow, pastor of Westmoreland Baptist Church nominated Mike Ivey, pastor of West Cramerton Baptist Church in Cramerton. Ivey nominated Tracey Bolick, of Laurel Springs Baptist Church in Deep Gap. Mark Brady, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Moyock, nominated Rob Roberts who is the associational missionary in Chowan Baptist Association. Rit Varriale, pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, nominated Sandy Marks, pastor of Alexis Baptist Church in Alexis. All ran unopposed.
Hollifield gave an update regarding the Vision Fulfillment committee. He named three study committees to focus on communication, church planting and existing churches, and strategy.
The first committee will be chaired by Davis, and the facilitator will be Tom Howe, chief executive officer of Unleashed by Design. The study committee is expected to complete its work by April 1.
Chuck Register, BSC executive leader of church planting and missions development, will serve as chair of the second committee. Brian Upshaw, church ministry team leader with congregational services, is the facilitator. They are expected to complete work by May.
The third committee will also be led by Davis, along with facilitator Russ Conley, who works with congregational services. They plan to bring their report to the Executive Committee in August.
The Board approved the development of construction documents for an additional lodging facility at Caraway Conference Center. The new three-story facility will have eight rooms and a kitchen area/conference room on each floor.
The expenses of the construction documents – which will be about $100,000 – will come from the “New Beginnings” capital campaign.
The $7.5-million campaign will provide for facility expansion and future growth.