When Dale Robertson was thrust into the role of secretary/treasurer for the North Carolina Pastor’s Conference (PC) 25 years ago, no one wanted the job.
The previous treasurer had stepped down because he was tired of asking his church to supplement the cost for the yearly conference held before the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) annual meeting.
BR file photo
Dale Robertson, right, has seen a lot of presidents and vice presidents through his 25 years of service to the North Carolina Pastor’s Conference, including 2016 officers Brian Langley, left, who was pastor of First Baptist Church in Kure Beach at the time, and Cameron McGill, center, who is the current Baptist State Convention of North Carolina president and pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church and Lake Church.
“He said, ‘I can’t do it anymore,’” said Robertson, pastor of North Main Baptist Church in Salisbury, N.C. “Nobody wanted it. Who wants to take care of pastors’ money?”
He remembers his pastor friend, Steve Hensley, nominating him in 1992 in Winston-Salem.
Robertson, who has served North Main for 24 years, is a graduate of Wingate College (now university) with a two-year degree; Wake Forest College (now university) with a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy; and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he completed his master of divinity (1975) and doctor of ministry (1999) degrees.
In his 41 years in ministry, he has served in Virginia and North Carolina.
Part of the process of transitioning out of this office involves Robertson combing through Pastor’s Conference files.
He found a letter dated 1993 where the president of the North Carolina Minister’s Wives wanted monetary help with their annual conference, which is held in conjunction with the BSC annual meeting. The response letter was from the president at the time, Charles Page, denying the amount of $100 because the conference didn’t have the money to give them.
One of the draws for the conference each year remains reconnecting with old friends.
“You go back to see people that you’ve known over the years,” he said. “A lot of people go out to eat after the sessions to catch up. I know I do.”
Robertson says a key attraction each year is the encouragement pastors receive while there.
“Believe it or not, pastors love to hear the Bible preached as much as anyone … and need it preached [to them],” he said. “We need to hear it as much as the people in the pew.”
Averaging between 1,500-1,800 people each year, pastors and their wives, along with other church staff and guests come to the annual event.
Robertson has worked with a number of officers over the years.
“Every president does it differently,” he said.
Robertson’s seen many changes over the years. One addition was the Sunday night service. “That was a big change,” he said. “We’d never done that before” C.J. Bordeaux, current director of missions for Pee Dee Baptist Association, was responsible for that addition.
BR file photo by Steve Cooke
Bobby Welch, former Southern Baptist Convention president, was one of the preachers at the 2016 Pastor’s Conference. The event usually tries to recruit a plethora of speakers and musicians for the annual event.
The group has also added a policy that the outgoing president always leaves some money in the bank.
Mike Whitson, current pastor of First Baptist Church in Indian Trail, was the first president to leave money in the bank at the end of his term.
Presidents usually contact friends and associates in the Baptist world to garner support for the conference each year.
For many years, the conference relied solely on contributions. The Baptist State Convention has come alongside the conference and helped with mail-outs and other expenses. Three collections are taken during the meeting to help offset costs for the speakers and musicians.
When James Walker, current pastor of Lake Hills Church in Candler, was president, his church at the time, Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, paid for the entire event. “That put us into a good position for years to come,” Robertson said. “Having some money to start the new year takes a lot of pressure off the treasurer.”
Early on, meetings of officers were held during the year to help plan the main event. With technological advances and so many demands on pastor’s time, there are fewer face-to-face meetings.
The PC nominates the president two years in advance, to allow the current office holder two years to plan ahead. Some speakers/pastors have busy schedules and plan that far in advance.
Another thing that has changed about the conference has been the music. There has been more contemporary groups in recent years.
One president jokingly nominated him to be treasurer “until Jesus comes back.”
Cameron McGill, the current BSC president and pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church, refers to Robertson as his “daddy in the ministry.”
Robertson served on McGill’s ordination council.
“It is a great and solemn responsibility to be in charge of money people give to the Lord,” he said. “They give it for the cause of Christ.”
Robertson still plans to be at the event every year.
“When you’re listening to a person who is there with you live, there’s a spirit there that’s not always there when you watch it online,” he said. “A lot of our North Carolina pastors are good at inspiring and challenging the pastors because they know them … They know them and appreciate them.”
The Pastor’s Conference is a good source of inspiration, challenge and encouragement.
He’s worked with a number of pastors over the years chosen as speakers for the events.
“I’ve learned that pastors are just great guys,” Robertson said. “All of them are loving and kind. Some of these pastors of very large churches have been just as kind and humble.”
Robertson counts his service as a “great privilege.” The role has allowed him to meet “some of the brightest stars in the Southern Baptist Convention over the years.”
For Robertson, life isn’t slowing down. He will continue his pastorate as well as serving as secretary/treasurer for Operation Transformation (operation-transformation.org), a church support ministry.
Plus, he serves on the BSC historical committee. Not only is he moderating a Reformation Symposium panel just before the annual meeting, he is nominated to serve as chairman of that committee if the messengers approve him.
He’s excited about his ministry at North Main. One ministry he mentioned in his interview with the Biblical Recorder was the Appalachia care boxes. They collect items and pack boxes to distribute in eastern Kentucky.
“You get to go right in the schools,” Robertson said. “We’re able to sit down and talk about the gospel.”
Robertson and his replacement, Jonathan Blaylock, pastor of West Canton Baptist Church, have already begun discussing aspects of this role, the challenges and blessings.
“If you handle that responsibility well, you earn great respect … and that’s more valuable than the money itself,” Robertson said. “It’s just handling the money correctly and giving a good account of yourself. If you mess that up, that’s bad.”