Sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and North Carolina Baptist Foundation, the 19th annual North Carolina Baptist Heritage Awards were presented April 9 at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center in Greensboro. By entity, here is a list of this year’s recipients.
Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Inc. – Marguerite Lee and John F. Lee
Marguerite Lee, 91-year old family matriarch and member of First Baptist Church in Wilson, and her son John F. Lee, Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) trustee and former chairman of the BCH board, make BCH and its ministries a priority.
It started for the Lee family in 1953 when Marguerite Lee and her late husband James L. “Jim” Lee moved to Elm City and he began Lee Motor Company. At first in Elm City Baptist Church, she worked with young children and collected pennies in baby food jars to be delivered to Kennedy Home in Kinston. Later, when she worked with older children in her church, she and others took more tangible things for the children to see and enjoy.
Lee has passed the mantle of personal involvement to her son John, president of the Lee Motor Group; he is making sure that his mother’s legacy of “sharing hope … changing lives” will continue.
John Lee was an active leader in two BCH capital campaigns. How blessed he is that he and his mother can still have those lovely Saturday morning breakfasts that have become the highlight of their week. In addition to their meal of eggs, biscuits, coffee and grits, John always brings his mother up to date on how things are going in the Lee Motor Group.
Baptists on Mission/NCBM – Terry A. Hall
Terry Hall is known for his servant’s heart and an intense passion for missions. He has been a volunteer for Baptists on Mission/NCBM since 1999. He held the position of state disaster relief coordinator 2013-2015. Currently, Hall serves as NCBM vice president East and disaster relief advisory council feeding team leader.
He served as onsite/feeding kitchen coordinator in major hurricanes such as Erin in Florida, Katrina in Mississippi, Sandy in New Jersey, Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, Maria in Puerto Rico, and Florence in North Carolina as well as the Johnsonville, S.C., floods.
A member of First Baptist Church in New Bern, Hall serves as a deacon, missions committee chair, and Sunday School administrative assistant. Married to Brenda Hall, the couple have two daughters and one grandchild.
Professionally, Hall is an audiology doctor/provider since 1980 and is currently employed by CarolinaEast ENT in New Bern.
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina – Richard and Doris Roberson
Look around Truett Camp and Conference Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, and you’ll see a lifetime of Richard and Doris Roberson’s devotion reflected all around the camp.
For more than 20 years, the Robersons managed Truett Camp as a husband and wife team, with Richard serving as the camp’s director from 1985 to 2006, and Doris helping in a variety of capacities behind the scenes.
As director, Richard played a key role in improving and expanding the camp’s facilities, which included a number of construction projects. Meanwhile, Doris wore many hats, such as bookkeeping, fundraising and more. The Robersons also pitched in with cooking and cleaning.
Managing the camp was a family affair. The Robersons’ sons – Tim and Kevin – helped out when they were younger. Later, each son served a tenure as camp director following their father’s retirement.
The Robersons created an environment that saw many campers come to faith in Christ. Today, a number of former campers serve as pastors, music ministers, church staff members and international missionaries.
“That’s what camp was all about,” Richard said. “Trying to win people to Christ.”
While serving as camp director, Richard also pastored churches in western North Carolina and north Georgia. He still pastors Liberty Baptist Church in Murphy, N.C.
The conference center at Truett is named in the Robersons’ honor.
“I think we left the camp in pretty good shape,” Richard said. “That means campers will have a nice place to come for years to come.”
Biblical Recorder – Gerald G. Hodges
No volunteer has invested more passion, personal time and interest in the Biblical Recorder’s ministry in recent decades than Gerald Hodges. Eight years ago, he was chairman of the Recorder’s board of directors through a time of transition between editors. For five months, he worked tirelessly with the staff, spending many hours in the office, on the phone and on the road to serve the needs of North Carolina Baptists’ news journal. At the same time, he led the search committee that called the current editor. Last year he concluded another four-year term on the board and was asked to chair the search committee for the next editor who will lead the Recorder beginning June 1.
All the while, Hodges has faithfully pastored the Westwood Baptist Church in Roxboro. Since 1990, he has led this congregation to be on mission for Christ in their community and around the world, becoming one of the top churches in the nation in gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. He has served on the board of directors and committees of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and serves on many levels in the Beulah Baptist Association. He has traveled to 12 countries around the world and several states to proclaim the gospel message, leading Westwood’s members to experience hands-on missions.
He and his wife of 39 years, Susan, are from Boone, N.C. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. They enjoy spending time with their two sons and seven grandchildren.
Campbell University – Michael G. Cogdill
Michael G. Cogdill has lived and served in North Carolina for 52 years – his biggest impact and most lasting contributions during his 36 years in higher education as the founding dean and professor of Christian ministry at Campbell University’s Divinity School.
Cogdill will retire in May, leaving the legacy of a school built on a strong mission-driven foundation to prepare ministers to serve the spiritual needs of underserved communities in North Carolina and beyond. As dean, he consolidated Campbell’s deep relationships in surrounding communities to raise more than 300 endowed scholarships for the support of a well-educated ministry. These funds have helped graduates serve without the impediment of overwhelming student debt.
The Divinity School’s enrollment grew rapidly from a charter class of 88 students in 1997 to more than 240 students by the end of his tenure as dean in 2010. Today, the Divinity School has 750 graduates serving around the world. Many are pastors in rural, small-town and urban communities, while others serve as chaplains in hospitals, correctional facilities and on military installations. They’ve all been profoundly influenced by Cogdill’s conviction that excellence in ministry is based on the qualities of vital faith, solid intellectual preparation and an ethic of personal integrity. Throughout his career, Cogdill has been an active leader in communities across North Carolina as the interim pastor for 23 churches. For the last five years, he has assisted churches in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina as a ministry transition coach, training and counseling churches in the process of calling new ministers.
He is married to Gail Brownd Cogdill, and they’re the parents of two children and four grandchildren.
Chowan University – Edith “Edie” Vick Farris
Edith “Edie” Vick Farris grew up on a farm in Kelford, N.C., and was raised in the local Baptist church. She attended Chowan College’s (now university) one-year business program before continuing her education through George Washington University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in administration some 20 years later. Together, Edie and her late husband, Lt. Colonel Philip Farris, have three children and eight grandchildren.
From pianist to choir member to Sunday School teacher and beyond, Farris has always been an active part of her church community. She remembers her time at Sandy Run Baptist Church with particular fondness. Edie feels that her faith is the most important part of her life and endeavors to share that love with others.
Farris is also an enthusiastic champion of Chowan – its mission, endowing multiple scholarships and supporting various renovations and landscaping projects – serving as a member of both the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors. Most notably, she is the mind responsible for the Farris Prayer Room, a quiet space for students to explore their faith and further their relationship with God. With a divine calling to create and fund the project, Farris hopes it will become a place that quiets the noise of contemporary life so that the voice of the Spirit can be heard.
Professionally, she has worked for the U.S. Army; the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; the Office of Wage and Price Stability; and even the CIA.
Gardner-Webb University – Ronald R. Beane
After attending Gardner-Webb Junior College (now university) and graduating from Appalachian State in 1959, Ron Beane began his teaching career. He taught at three local schools and coached their basketball teams where he led them to the state playoffs eight times. Beane went on to become the first principal at West Caldwell High and then the associate superintendent for personnel of the Caldwell County Schools. He retired from the school system in 1994 after 35 years of service.
In his retirement, he continued to serve as a Caldwell County commissioner and chairman of the Foothills Regional Airport Authority. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Easley as a member of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board. He has also served as a member of the Caldwell County Schools Education Foundation Board, and he and his wife sponsor an annual scholarship for a senior at West Caldwell High School.
Beane has been inducted into the Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame, the Gardner-Webb University’s Gallery of Distinguished Alumni, and the Caldwell County Schools Hall of Honor. In 2012, Governor Perdue awarded him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Serving on the board of trustees of both Caldwell Community College and Gardner-Webb University, Beane is a member of Mountain Grove Baptist Church.
He and his wife, Christine, have two children and four grandchildren.
Mars Hill University – Brenda G. Nash
Mars Hill University is proud to recognize Brenda G. Nash, a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and community volunteer. Nash does everything with passion and dedication, which is grounded in her faith in Jesus Christ. Her leadership and philanthropic efforts touch many lives here in western North Carolina and beyond, and one of her most cherished roles has been mentoring women in bible study for over four decades.
Living in Asheville, Nash currently attends Arden First Baptist Church. She is a member of the Mars Hill College class of 1966. Brenda and her husband, Tom ‘66, are longtime supporters of Mars Hill University, and provided the initial funding for the very first graduate program at MHU (masters of education). The Nash family has also provided generous gifts for projects such as the renovation of Huffman Residence Hall, Renfro Library, and the Nash Education Hall, as well as support for the Athletics Department. Brenda served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2017, including one term as chair, and she was named Philanthropist of the Year in 2014.
Nash served as the chair of the Steering Committee for the “Building Our University” campaign, which concluded in 2018 and exceeded $53 million in gifts (almost twice the initial goal). Because of her work over the years, Nash has received an honorary bachelor’s degree in human services and an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
North Carolina Baptist Foundation – Dewitt “DC” and Shirley Thompson
DC and Shirley Dewitt exemplify the joyous and generous givers that we like to lift up as models in generosity. DC was raised on a cotton and tobacco farm in Johnston County, and one of his earliest memories is tithing a portion of the annual tobacco crop. His family, which included four boys and four girls, was involved in White Oak Baptist Church. Shirley and her sisters were also raised on a tobacco farm in Wendell. She has many fond memories of her family’s involvement in Hephzibah Baptist Church.
After entering the Navy at the age of 18, DC arrived at Camp Pendleton for basic training just as the Korean War started. He spent most of his four years in Hawaii supporting the war efforts. After the Navy, he went to North Carolina State University on the GI Bill and graduated with a degree in parks and recreation, leading to a 32-year career which took him from Richmond, to Raleigh, to Durham, and then to Greensboro where they have lived since 1966.
Shirley worked outside the home except during the birth and early years of their two sons Cal and Ken. Once they settled in Greensboro, she began a 26-year career with IBM.
The Thompsons have been married for 64 years, have five grandchildren and have been faithful members of First Baptist Church in Greensboro for 52 of those years. They have given of their time volunteering in many capacities: WMU, Missions Committee, teaching Sunday School, serving as Deacon, Baptist Men, Campers on Mission, NCBCH and BSC annual meetings. Their 30-year involvement with Campers on Mission has taken them to most U.S. states, with DC serving a term as president. They have been involved in the Camper’s On Mission N.C. State Fair ministry for the past 25 years, ministering to and sharing the gospel with fair workers.
Wingate University – Elona Laisure Edwards
By the time she was 16, in 1955, Elona Laisure had lived in or visited 48 states and 13 countries. She had spent three years in China and two more in Germany. Then her stepfather, a serviceman like her late father, wanted to return to his roots to retire. “They plunked me down in Marshville,” Elona said. Trying to find her way in a tiny, rural community in North Carolina, Edwards found a home at Union Grove Baptist Church – “a sweet church full of humble people.” She married Carroll Edwards. Together, in 1969, they founded Edwards Woods Products, Inc. where the involvement of their three children makes it a family business.
Influenced by the poverty she saw firsthand in Nanjing, China, as a little girl, Edwards has tried her best over the years to support mission work. She spent years serving and giving as a member of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). She toured Union County through WMU teaching book-study groups. “I had soaked up a lot of information about the way other people live outside of the country,” she said. “It was easy for me to teach the books.” For decades, she has taught Sunday School from the youngest children up to seniors. Edwards is the church’s primary accompanist playing piano and organ. She has served on five pastor search committees at Union Grove.
For the past 12 years, Edwards has served three terms as a member of the Board of Trustees at Wingate University just a few miles down the road from her Marshville home. She is now a lifetime honorary Board member. “I want Wingate to continue to grow and flourish helping more young people get an exceptional education alongside Christian faith and values,” she said.
Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina – Jan High
When she retired in 2011, Jan High was the longest-serving staff member of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) in its first 125 years. During her 28-year tenure, which began in 1983, she served as Girls in Action consultant, WMU consultant, and missions education consultant.
Prior to coming to joining the staff of WMU-NC, High served on the staffs of Kentucky WMU and Maryland WMU, working with Acteens, Girls in Action and Mission Friends. She also served as camp director for both. High is from Texas, but currently resides in Fuquay-Varina. Some of her most significant contributions to the work of WMU-NC were during the time she served as missions education consultant, 1995-2011.
She organized and trained a network of leaders from across the state to assist with state, associational and local church training. A resource team of 122 women was organized to conduct training sessions, teach mission books and support the work of WMU-NC. Recognizing that the WMU-NC staff could not respond to all the requests for assistance, she enlisted and trained five women as WMU Leadership Network Specialists who worked closely with a WMU-NC staff member.
Never one to ask others to do something she was unwilling to do, she led age-level organizations in her local church and provided leadership in her local association. She also served with the Baptist State Convention in mission partnerships, including the ones in New York and Brazil. High, who started out as a Sunbeam, has, even in her retirement, continued to influence missions and WMU-NC.