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.
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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.
“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.”
The board approved
initiating a partnership with Moldova Baptists through the new BSC office of Great
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
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
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.
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
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
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.