Charles “Chuck” Register, pastor of First Baptist Church, Gulfport, Miss., and well known to North Carolina Baptists as the local face of Hurricane Katrina recovery, has been elected to the administrative staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Register, 49, will start Jan. 5, 2009, as executive leader for church planting and missions development. The new position was authorized by the BSC Executive Committee May 20 and Register was elected during the Executive Committee meeting Nov. 10.
Register has been pastor of First Baptist Church, Gulfport, since 1999. He led the church through a complete $19 million relocation after its total destruction from Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, 2005. The church occupied its new facility Aug. 10, 2008.
“My wife, Charlene, and I have said only one thing would pry us out of Gulfport and that was a calling from the Father to a new page of ministry,” Register said by phone Dec. 11.
“We are as excited as we can be to come to North Carolina.”
Ironically, Register’s senior associate pastor for eight years in Gulfport, Brian Upshaw, was elected Aug. 14 as team leader for the BSC church ministry team. Register acknowledges it is “certainly a blow” to the church that loves North Carolina Baptists for their work to restore Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina to lose two staff members at the same time to North Carolina.
But, he is confident that “God always has the answer for those resources” the church needs.
He is equally as confident that under the threat of shrinking resources in denominational work, “When God calls us to a task He always provides.”
Register believes an immediate challenge in what will be a high profile responsibility as the BSC emphasizes church planting, will be to “help the established churches understand the need for new church plants. Because we’re in such a heavily Baptist area we can live under the false assumption there are already enough Baptist, enough evangelical churches.”
He reiterated that new churches reach more people per capita and said, “We need to be planting new churches aggressively.”
Register also wants to raise awareness that 180 languages are spoken in “our state” and today “the world lives in North Carolina.”
Register has been involved in church planting and church growth from his earliest student days. He helped to start a church in Eldon, Iowa, as a summer seminary student worker; churches he’s led as pastor have started other churches, including internationally, and he has taught evangelism and church growth at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he directed the Landrum P. Leavell II Center for Evangelism and Church Growth 1996-1999.
He said he has a special concern for World A, or “unreached people groups.”
He cited statistics that indicate as many as 7 million North Carolinians are actively engaged in no church, and said, “You can’t be obedient to the Acts 1:8 if you’re neglecting your own back yard.”
Register is a native of Starke, Fla., and has been married to his high school sweetheart, the former Charlene Beam, since 1982. They have two children: Chip, a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi and Christina, a sophomore at Mississippi State University.
Register is a graduate the University of Florida and earned both his master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from New Orleans Seminary. He is currently a trustee of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and was a member of the SBC Committee on Committees in 2001.