While many stories stood out in 2011, there were a few main themes that jumped to the forefront when looking back at the events that shaped North Carolina Baptists this past year – leadership changes, focused vision, disaster relief and missions.
2011 was a year many key Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities made leadership changes. Tom Elliff began his post at the IMB leading his staff and missionary personnel in Richmond and beyond to challenge Baptists to “embrace” 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups.
While Kevin Ezell at the North American Mission Board and Frank Page at the SBC’s Executive Committee had been chosen in 2010, 2011 was a year’s worth of leadership at their new posts.
Each continued to challenge Baptists on local, state, national and global levels to step up church planting and fulfill the Great Commission. Ezell worked to cut costs at NAMB and focus more on its church planting efforts.
Al Gilbert, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, was part of the changing landscape at NAMB. Gilbert became the executive director of Love Loud, the ministry evangelism arm of NAMB.
In his inaugural address in February, Page said he believes God is calling Southern Baptists to be a blessing to the nations: “I don’t believe God is going to be happy until every man, woman, boy and girl on the face of this earth hears the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
The Biblical Recorder also named a pastor as its editor/president. K. Allan Blume, former pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, began as editor in May. Blume has traveled the state encouraging Baptists to support the state’s paper by subscribing and sharing news items.
Refocusing N.C. Baptists on the vision of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) was another key theme in 2011. This took on different forms. In 2010, the Convention decided to host vision fulfillment forums across the state in 2011. The Convention sought input from N.C. Baptists on the vision of the Convention reflected in BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr.’s Seven Pillars for Ministry.
Hollifield announced some changes to the Seven Pillars at the annual meeting in November.
He highlighted that while technology, which was formerly one of the pillars, was still important to North Carolina Baptists, the need to focus on unengaged, unreached peoples was more in line with the original intent of the pillars. Hollifield challenged N.C. Baptists to adopt 250 unengaged, unreached people groups, an emphasis that replaced technology in the newest Seven Pillars for Ministry.
Disaster response, missions
N.C. Baptists responded to numerous disasters near and far. An earthquake in Japan called on the nation’s only Baptist search and rescue team through North Carolina Baptist Men. Volunteers worked fires in the state as well as responded to other disasters that caused loss of life and major damage to several areas in the state. Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc in North Carolina along with several other states along the Eastern seaboard. Along with disasters, 2011 brought a focus on partnerships with other states and countries.
Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem works with a Southeast Asian village. Readers followed Old Town’s progress throughout 2011 with embracing an unengaged, unreached people group.
The BSC’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships continued to highlight efforts in Canada and New York as well as Moldova. Volunteers continue to help in Haiti after an earthquake two years ago deeply damaged the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
N.C. Baptists sent mission teams through their churches, associations and the Convention to their neighbors and to the ends of the earth.
• Caraway Conference Center, although still early in its capital campaign, received a gift to allow the construction of a minister’s retreat cabin.
• Readers learned about the process of adopting an unengaged, unreached people group by following Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem in a series of Convention stories.
• A Woman’s Right to Know bill was passed, vetoed and reinstated. A lawsuit has stalled some of the progress made in the bill regarding informing women about a fetus via an ultrasound.
• The 2011 “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery is a N.C. Baptist youth – a member at First Baptist Church in Garner.
• Two of the actors in the movie “Courageous” are N.C. Baptists. Rusty Martin Jr. and his dad, Rusty Martin Sr., both had roles in the film, produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. The father and son are members of Turner Memorial Baptist Church in Garner.
• N.C. Baptists supported resolutions on marriage and protested expanding gambling efforts.
A story that will likely make big news in 2012 is whether or not the Southern Baptist Convention decides to change its name.
SBC President Bryant Wright named a volunteer task force to assess the idea. A “decision” was made in December 2011 but nothing official was released.
A report will be given during a February 2012 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
North Carolina voters will decide on a marriage amendment in May.
A decision regarding gambling expansion will most likely be made early this year as well.
What stood out to you in 2011? And what do you see as stories to watch in 2012?
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