Sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and North Carolina Baptist Foundation, the 18th annual North Carolina Baptist Heritage Awards were presented April 10 at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center in Greensboro. By entity, here is a list of this year’s recipients.
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina – Fred B. Lunsford
Although Lunsford considers himself a mountain preacher, his influence extends far beyond the mountains he calls home.
Born and raised on a farm in Marble, N.C., he trusted Christ at an early age and surrendered to the ministry after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. After pastoring churches in western North Carolina and north Georgia, Fred became director of missions for the Truett Baptist Association, a position he held for 26 years.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) recognized Lunsford as Director of Missions of the Year for the eastern United States in 1987. That same year, he was recognized with a lifetime service award from the SBC’s seminary extension ministry.
He is known for conducting numerous Sunday School revivals across North Carolina.
Following his “retirement” from the Truett Association at age 65, Lunsford returned to local church ministry and pastored until a few years ago. Today, at 93, he still teaches a Sunday night Bible study at Vengeance Creek Baptist Church, the same church he attended as a youth. “They won’t let me give it up,” he said.
A lifelong supporter of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Lunsford was instrumental in establishing the Broyhill and Truett homes in western North Carolina. The Baptist Children’s Homes honored Fred with a distinguished service award in 2014. He has written five books and is working on a sixth.
Lunsford and his late wife, Gladys, are the parents of two sons: Dan, who is retiring as president of Mars Hill University, and Tony, a director of medical imaging in Georgia.
Biblical Recorder – C. Mark Corts (1938-2006)
Corts was a rare servant of God whose impact can be measured in the local church, Baptist associations, state conventions, the Southern Baptist Convention and the world. He served as senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem for more than 39 years, leading the church of 125 members to reach a membership of 6,000 believers who devoted 25 percent of its budget to mission causes.
Corts served as president of the North Carolina Baptist Pastors’ Conference (1976); president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (1977-79); a member of the Committee on Committees of the Southern Baptist Convention (1980) and as chairman of that committee in 1995; chairman of the Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (1990); a member of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, now International Mission Board (1980-90), and chairman of that board (1988-1990); and on the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (now College) Board of Trustees.
Before his death in 2006, Corts mentored hundreds of young pastors through the Tarheel Leadership Network, a year-long training program he developed to equip the next generation of leaders. He preached weekly on ShareLife, the TV ministry of Calvary in the Piedmont Triad area. He participated in overseas ministry in more than 50 countries.
The Biblical Recorder posthumously honored Corts because of his vision for the news journal’s potential to advance Great Commission ministry through committed church members.
Campbell University – Mike and Quae Cummings
For nearly 40 years, the couple has been synonymous with Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, one of the oldest Native American institutions in the state. The couple retired Feb. 28, with a combined 70 years of service for the Pembroke-based association.
Born the eighth of 12 children on a 20-acre farm in Robeson County, Mike Cummings, a Lumbee Indian, learned the meaning of discrimination at an early age. Until 1964, he was denied admittance to white schools but worked hard to get an education and ultimately became a leader not only of his people but of all North Carolina Baptists. Cummings graduated from Campbell College (now university) in 1974 and obtained a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1977.
A pastor for 19 years, Cummings became director of missions for the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association in 1988. He became vice president of the Baptist State Convention of N.C. in 1997 and president of the convention in 1999. He was named Lumbee Indian of the Year in 1985, was the recipient of the Campbell Presidential Medallion in 1999 and received his honorary doctor of divinity degree in 2000.
Quae Cummings grew up in the Coharie Indian community of Clinton, N.C. She attended the East Carolina Indian School until it closed in 1964, then graduated from Clinton High School in 1972. She graduated from UNC-Pembroke in 2007 with a degree in sociology.
She became the office secretary for Burnt Swamp association in 1979. She has been responsible for the administration office, coordinating its schedule and activities and leading the communication work for the association with its churches. She has also been called upon to speak for women’s ministries, earning superior regard across the Baptist State Convention.
Married since 1972, the Cummings have three children and three grandchildren.
Chowan University – Ernest Leroy and Austine Odom Evans
Married for 50 years, the Evans of Ahoskie, N.C., have faithfully served a number of state Baptist institutions, including Chowan.
A native of Martinsburg, W.Va., Austine spent 31 years in education, first at Peace College in admissions, then as a high school counselor in Hertford County, and ultimately as a senior administrator and vice president at Chowan, where she now serves on the Board of Trustees. She serves with the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and Meals on Wheels and is a past member of the Committee on Nominations of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Austine attended Wake Forest University for her undergraduate and master’s degrees.
Born in Norfolk, Va., Ernest began his career as a lawyer, working first as a research assistant in the N.C. Supreme Court, then as assistant attorney general, and finally as a partner at Cherry, Cherry, Flythe, and Evans in Ahoskie. He then turned to agriculture, first as vice president of E.R. Evans and Sons, Inc. and then as president of ELE, Inc., in Ahoskie. He has been a trustee of the North Carolina Baptist Hospital for 25 years, serving as chairman for six of those years. Ernest attended Wake Forest University for both undergraduate and law school.
They currently work alongside each other as president and vice president of ELE, Inc. The couple have been active members of First Baptist Church Ahoskie since first moving to the town in 1972, both serving as deacon and Sunday School teacher. Together they sponsor the Evans Poteat Scholarship for N.C. Baptist students at Wake Forest University and the Evans Family Scholarship at Chowan University.
Gardner-Webb University – C. Lorance and Betty Ledford Henderson
The couple’s distinguished tenure of service to the community, the church and Gardner-Webb University embodies the university’s motto – pro Deo et humanitate – for God and humanity. Few have contributed more to the field of deaf education than the Hendersons. Teaching and directing programs across the country, C. Lorance ultimately served as the superintendent and director for the N.C. Schools for the Deaf. She also served there as teacher and principal of the early childhood program.
Betty has been active in the Morganton Women’s Club, Burke County Association for the Education of Young Children and Daughters of the American Revolution. He has served on the Piedmont Council for Boy Scouts of America, NC Clean Water Fund, Board of Directors for the NC Partnership for Children and founded the Friends of Lake James State Park. In 2008, he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
He received an honorary doctorate from Gardner-Webb in 1979 and has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1980. He was instrumental in the creation of the Noel Center for Disability Resources, which provides access to higher education for qualified students with disabilities.
In addition, Betty, a member of Gardner-Webb Junior College’s class of ’53, and C. Lorance have established the Dr. Rance and Betty Henderson Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Henderson/Ledford Endowed Scholarship Fund.
They are members of First Baptist Church of Morganton, where they have both served faithfully as deacons, Sunday School teachers and members of various committees.
They have two children, David and Julie, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Mars Hill University – David Costner
Costner never underestimates the Sunday School lessons one experiences as a child. Cultivated and reinforced by his parents, the late Robert and Ruth Yates Costner, both Mars Hill College alumni. In 1966, Costner entered Mars Hill College, just like his sisters before him. He met the love of his life, Rebecca Sluder, on the first day of class. They have been best friends for 52 years and daughters – Jennifer, Laura and Julie – and nine grandchildren.
Upon graduating from Mars Hill, he taught and coached in Buncombe County while also serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. By 1975, a new career was launched in the transportation industry, which saw him ascend to positions ranging from sales manager to vice-president of national accounts. Throughout their many moves, the family always sought out loving churches, with David often serving as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, Royal Ambassador leader and youth coach. Upon retirement in 2013, David and Becky returned to the mountains and originally settled back in the church where they were married, with David again stepping forward as chair of the properties committee, chair of the capital funds campaign, and a deacon. And since 2014, he has been a passionate member of the Mars Hill University Board of Trustees.
North Carolina Baptist Foundation – Ray and Girtrue Talley
The Talleys love for and commitment to Christ and His church, their involvement in ministry in Jesus’ name and their devotion to each other, define Ray and Girtrue Talley. Both have served on the Baptist Foundation Board of Directors, Girtrue three terms totaling 12 years and Ray for four years. As board members they made significant contributions to the foundation’s mission.
Girtrue, a native of Haywood County, had a long and distinguished career in banking from which she retired after 32 years. While she was excelling in her banking career, she and her late husband Cecil Young owned and operated The Community Superette in their hometown of Etowah. Still she had time to be active in her church, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, serving as WMU director, among many other responsibilities. On the Foundation Board she served in practically every capacity, including vice president. The computer lab at Fruitland Baptist Bible College was donated by Girtrue and Ray in memory of her late husband Cecil.
Ray has distinguished himself as a pastor in Georgia and North and South Carolina churches. He has served on the Board of Directors of both the N.C. and S.C. conventions. He is a Clemson Tiger and a graduate of New Orleans Seminary. For 14 years Ray was the pianist for the Kingsmen Quartet, and for years he and Girtrue have shared their musical talents in ministry. Ray has participated in 23 mission trips to Romania and is always in great demand as an interim pastor.
After both lost spouses the Lord brought this power team together on New Year’s Eve, 1997.
Baptists on Mission – Lynn Tharrington
Tharrington has served on the staff for North Carolina Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission for the past 47 years (since 1971). She has served as the administrative assistant for the last 46 years.
When she was 12 years old she went to missions week at Ridgecrest and after hearing all the missionaries she decided that she wanted to be a missionary. Since she was 18 years old, and began working for Baptists on Missions, she has ministered to thousands of people along with our board, staff, mission volunteers, her family, her church and others. God has used Tharrington and her call to missions, to impact thousands of people.
She married Bobby Tharrington on Aug. 29, 1972. He died in August 2017. She has two children and five grandchildren. Tharrington is a member of Red Bud Baptist Church where she teaches Sunday School, plays the piano and is a servant leader for that church.
Wake Forest Baptist Hospital – Kathryn H. Hamrick
Kathryn H. Hamrick, of Boiling Springs, N.C., is a native of Asheville and daughter of a Baptist minister and a high school history teacher. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in Spanish. She married Cline Hamrick in 1970 and for the next 16 years she and her husband and their four sons operated a dairy farm in Boiling Springs. Hamrick began work at MetLife in the Shelby office, retiring as branch manager in 2013 after 25 years. For 30 years, she wrote a weekly humor column for the Shelby Star and in 2015, she published a book, The Farmer’s Wife, which contains favorite humor columns from decades of farm life. Kathryn has served N.C. Baptists as president of the General Board and vice president of the Baptist State Convention. She also served on the Coordinating Council of N.C.’s Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Hamrick has taught a ladies’ Sunday School class for more than 20 years and has served as a deacon of Boiling Springs Baptist Church. She is an active member of the Friendship Force and Boiling Springs Rotary and serves on the boards of the Cleveland County Community Foundation and the Noel Program for Students with Disabilities at Gardner-Webb University. She has served multiple terms as a trustee of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and served on the Hospital’s Faith and Health Ministries Committee and Foundation Board, and she served on Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Community Benefit Advisory Board. Throughout her service to Baptist Hospital and the Medical Center, she has been an advocate for maintaining a productive relationship with N.C. Baptists and the Baptist State Convention. The Hamricks have 10 grandchildren.
Wingate University – Don and Elaine Scarborough
Don was born and raised in Wadesboro, and Elaine was born and raised in Raleigh. They married in January 1978. They have two married children and two grandchildren. They attend Wadesboro First Baptist Church.
They serve as Girls in Action Leader, Sunday School Director, Sunday School Teacher, Nursery Committee Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, etc. Don is a faithful Alumni of Wingate University. He has worked for the economic development of the most challenged communities.
Elaine has served Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina: trustee since 2002; executive committee, chair of programs and services, strategic planning committee.
Don’s grandmother Minnie Harrington Pope and her sister Hyla Harrington were early residents of Mills Home (now part of Baptist Children’s Homes) due to death of their father and mother’s inability to care for them.
Elaine is retired as Anson County Partnership for Children executive director and now provides care for her grandchildren.
Don continues as owner of Plank Road Realty and active service to the university and community.
Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina – Sandra Dunlap James
James and her husband, Leo, live in Whittier and are involved in First Baptist Sylva where she leads Women on Mission and serves as Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) director. A past president of WMU-NC, her heart for leading women of all ages to know God’s will for their lives and to develop a missions worldview was foremost in this role. James is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention.
Sandra has affected many lives through her missions travels including Durban, South Africa and Myanmar, and by leading her Girls in Action to make pillowcase dresses for impoverished children in Africa.
Sandra and Leo spend several months each year serving as volunteers at the Hawaiian Baptist Conference Center. She has “mothered” hundreds of internationals as they have come to the U.S. to work in restaurants owned by Sandra and Leo, providing a livelihood as well as an opportunity for ministry. They have two married sons and six grandchildren.