Each year North Carolina Baptist entities honor people who have contributed to the individual organizations in unique ways. The N.C. Baptist Heritage Awards Banquet was held April 26 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The annual event is co-sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of N.C. and the N.C. Baptist Foundation. Here are the organizations and their winners:
Baptist Children’s Homes of N.C. Inc.
Betty H. Greene
Betty H. Greene: Betty Greene of Boone can’t remember a time when she wasn’t a part of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). Little Betty Hollar loved to ride in her daddy’s truck. Nothing brought her more joy than accompanying him down the mountain with a truck load of food – apples, potatoes, produce and canned items – to Mills Home in Thomasville. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair between her and BCH.
When Betty married Dale Greene and they began their family and grew their business, her passion for children and BCH grew even stronger.
From her days in the Cradle Roll department at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, and being baptized at age nine, Greene has worked tirelessly in missions. She has led every age group in WMU – serving as director for many years – as well as leading Mission Friends and Girls in Action.
Whether serving on the Crisis Pregnancy Board or taking part in a missions opportunity in Turkey, Greene gravitates to children. Her task in Turkey was to care for missionaries’ children. Many of them had never interacted with strangers but Greene quickly embraced them and won their hearts. Greene’s own five children, Gwen, Tony, Tim, Pam and Jeff, live nearby where she delights in them and their families.
Greene is a marvelous example of how one woman can make a difference in the lives of many. She is an exemplary trustee of Baptist Children’s Homes.
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC)
H. Kenneth Holland
H. Kenneth Holland: Ken Holland, 87, is still living out his life’s mission statement, even since his “retiring” at age 62: “My goal has been to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ in all the days of my life in ways that are consistent with my age and my gifting.”
Holland continues to train, equip and mentor pastors seeking to plant churches all across North Carolina.
Holland fell in love with the Carolinas while pastoring his first church – a church plant near Greer, S.C. Holland and his wife Dorothy retired to the mountains of North Carolina in 1992 after more than 30 years in ministry, which included stints as a pastor, director of missions and church planting consultant with the Home Mission Board (North American Mission Board) and the Florida Baptist Convention.
After “retiring,” Holland was approached by BSC to serve as a contract worker to assist with church planting efforts in the state. Holland has now worked with the BSC for nearly 25 years, which includes two stints as interim leader for the convention’s church planting team.
During his tenure in North Carolina, Holland has travelled throughout the state to work with church planters. In recent years, he has focused on assisting church planters in the mountains close to his home. He still leads trainings for all English language church planters in the state.
A native of Wimauma, Fla., he answered a call to ministry after embarking on a career in retail sales. He graduated from Stetson University and later earned his master of divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Holland has been married to his wife Dorothy for 67 years, and he considers her his partner in ministry. The Hollands reside in Zirconia, and they have one adult son, Harvey K. Holland Jr.
Greg T. Mathis
Greg T. Mathis: Greg Mathis has served as the senior pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville since 1980. In that time, Mud Creek has grown from a small rural church to a regional fellowship of more than 4,000 members. Both he and his wife Deborah are native North Carolinians. They have three children and four grandchildren.
Mathis is greatly beloved by his congregation, highly respected by his staff and revered by fellow Baptists. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. For 35 years he has taught the Bible and evangelism at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. The school honored him with the J.C. Canipe Teaching Award in 1997. He has led his church to support the ministry of the Biblical Recorder, and he has been a great personal encourager to the organization. The church carries one of the Recorder’s largest group subscription plans.
History will record that Mathis was a strategic peacemaker and strategic influencer in the BSC. Twice elected as the convention’s president from 1995-1997, he intentionally reached across the aisle to befriend many who differed with him on various Baptist issues.
He has written eight books and is the recipient of many awards including The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award in 2000 by Gov. James B. “Jim” Hunt. Both Gardner-Webb and North Greenville University have granted him honorary doctorates. Campbell University gave him the Reavis Scholar Award in 1998. He has served many roles in denominational life including two terms on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Jack F. Coffey
Jack F. Coffey: “You were born for just such a time as this,” Jack Coffey quoted Esther 4:14 to college graduates at Campbell University’s 1993 spring commencement. “What a time – a time of crisis, but also a time of change and a time of challenge.”
They were words of inspiration that still ring true, just as they did 23 years ago. Coffey, the former minister who served nearly three decades at New Hope Baptist Church in Raleigh, has inspired generations both from the pulpit and through his philanthropy and service in higher education.
An alumnus of Mars Hill College (University), Wake Forest College (University), Duke University Divinity School and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Coffey spent 41 years as a pastor in North Carolina and northern Virginia and another 11 years as interim pastor before his retirement in 2007. He served on major committees for the SBC and BSC in the 1970s and ’80s, and he was inducted into North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine by then Gov. Jim Hunt in 1995.
His legacy will live on through Campbell University, where he was a three-time trustee and recipient of an honorary doctorate of divinity. In 2013, Campbell Law School in Raleigh dedicated its chapel to him and his late wife, Sarah Buie Coffey. Coffey was also instrumental in the construction of Campbell’s Butler Chapel, serving as chairman of the chapel’s campaign committee. At 88, Coffey continues to serve on Campbell’s Presidential Advisory Committee and continues to provide leadership in Campbell’s mission of faith, learning and service.
Ray Felton: The size of Ray Felton’s heart has little to do with his grand stature, but instead stems from his generous nature and the way he genuinely cares about his employees, friends and family. Felton is a man who gives back, renowned as a man of service with a heart for the community.
Married with three children and four grandchildren, Ray Felton of Eure, N.C., along with his son Brock, owns and operates Metal Tech in Murfreesboro. He and his business are major supporters of the annual Hertford-Gates Relay for Life and Felton has served as a N.C. ambassador for the American Cancer Society.
In addition to Metal Tech’s lead corporate sponsorship of Chowan University Athletics, Felton is also an avid patron of fine arts and music at Chowan University, where he serves on the Board of Trustees. In recognition of their outstanding community service, selfless volunteerism and benevolent interest in others, Ray and Judy Felton were the 2007 recipients of Chowan’s Community Service Award.
The compassionate couple supports area schools, churches, 4-H programs and fire, police and rescue departments. They are sponsors of All4Kids Hunting programs, the Gates County Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt, the Josh Lane Juvenile Diabetes Golf Tournament, the Jefcoat Museum, the N.C. Watermelon Festival, Gates County Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. They host regular Bloodmobile drives, support Muscular Dystrophy, the American Heart Association, the Helene Knight Scholarship, Committee for Education Excellence-Gates County Schools, and Partners for Education-Hertford County Schools. Felton also serves as a member of the Gates County Board of Education. The Feltons attend Eure Baptist Church.
Emmett Harvey Rogers Jr.
Emmett Harvey Rogers Jr.: Emmett Harvey Rogers Jr. had begun a promising career as an automobile dealer when he sensed a call to ministry as a member of First Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C. Though he was past the traditional age of attending college, Rogers earned his bachelor’s degree at Gardner-Webb University and later graduated with a master of divinity and a doctor of ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He has pastored three Baptist churches in North Carolina, including Forestville Baptist Church in Wake Forest, Fallston Baptist Church in Fallston and Mooresville First Baptist Church. Always demonstrating what one friend called “a caring concern for others,” he currently serves as a board member for Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville. He has also served with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, concentrating on Baptist Hospital, Baptist Children’s Homes and Baptist Retirement Homes of North Carolina. In addition, he is a member of the Mooresville Chamber of Commerce. He has held significant leadership positions with the BSC and South Yadkin Baptist Association.
Rogers remains devoted to Gardner-Webb, teaching as an adjunct professor and serving on the university’s Board of Ministers as well as the Board of Trustees. In December 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from GWU’s School of Divinity.
Mars Hill University
Ronald F. Martin
Ronald F. Martin: Ron Martin of Morganton, N.C., has flunked retirement.
“When I retired,” he shares, “I thought I had certain traits and qualities that would be beneficial for nonprofit organizations. I can’t be still.” Truer words could not be spoken.
Since “retirement” from Shadowline in 2003, Martin’s faith has informed his service to innumerable organizations in his community including Burke County United Way, Blue Ridge Health Care Foundation, Exploring Joara Foundation, Burke Council on Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency, South Mountain Children’s Home and Family Service and First Baptist Church. In recognition of his commitment to his hometown, Ron was selected by the Morganton Rotary as the Man of the Year in 2010.
Western Piedmont Community College, where Martin is the former president of the Board of Directors, has benefited greatly from his tireless efforts. The same can be said of Mars Hill University. As a three-term trustee, Ron has served as chair of the Board of Trustees, a member of the campaign cabinet, and as chair of the Trusteeship Committee. In this latter role he has been the individual most instrumental in identifying, recruiting and selecting new university trustees.
Last August Martin was awarded North Carolina’s highest civilian recognition, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Martin is far from ready to curb his busy schedule. On the contrary, his goal is “to leave here tired,” which means he will continue to impact the lives he encounters.
Justus “Jud” Ammons
Justus “Jud” Ammons: Jud Ammons grew up on a farm in the North Carolina mountains, where his work sharecropping and plowing gardens showed early signs of the entrepreneur he would become. At N.C. State University, he worked several jobs and his senior year he worked as an engineer for the State of North Carolina.
After graduation, he served in the U.S. Air Force, then worked as a department head with CP&L. However, when he started Ammons Construction Company, Ammons set his foot on a path that would change the face of Raleigh, and enrich the quality of communities far and wide.
Since that day, he has built, owned, and operated major subdivisions, day care facilities, golf course communities, industrial parks, and shopping centers across North Carolina. He has always gone above and beyond to create quality communities.
Ammons work on the Raleigh City Task Force inspired him to build Eagle Chase Subdivision to provide attractive, affordable housing, and recreational amenities in Southeast Raleigh. To increase investment and jobs, he developed EastPark, one of the largest industrial, business, and office parks in the Triangle.
Encouraged by seniors in his church, Ammons developed Springmoor Retirement Community, and has operated it for more than 30 years. Springmoor is an integral part of Greystone, where Ammons pioneered the concept of a planned urban development incorporating amenities that allow residents to live, work, play, worship, and go to school in a cohesive community.
He is a founder of Greystone Baptist Church and has served as deacon, Sunday School teacher, and trustee.
Last year a gift to Meredith College from the Jud Ammons family, in honor of his late wife, Meredith alumna Jo Ellen Ammons, will renovate the iconic Johnson Hall and add the Jo Ellen Ammons Welcome Center that will welcome prospective and current students.
North Carolina Baptist Foundation
Jack A. and Joan D. Cooper
Jack A. and Joan D. Cooper: Jack and Joan Cooper are wonderful models in Christian stewardship. Jack is in his second term on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Baptist Foundation where he has served on the Executive Committee and continues to serve on the Investment Committee. Joan has served two terms as Trustee for the Baptist Children’s Homes. They are both active members of Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, where Jack has served as Deacon, Sunday School teacher and trustee. Joan has served her church as Sunday School teacher and Director of Woman’s Missionary Union.
Before their retirement, they were both engaged in the work of the J.A. Cooper Insurance Agency and State Farm Insurance, while at the same time providing for their children Gary and Dawn.
Somehow Jack, with Joan’s support, also found time to serve their community as president of the Rotary and Ruritan Clubs, director of the First Citizens Bank, and board member of the Elizabeth City Foundation. Today they also have four grandchildren to keep them busy.
Under Joan’s leadership, the Corinth Baptist Church WMU Scholarship Fund was established to provide funds for church youth to continue their education beyond high school. Through Jack’s leadership, the church also established a Missions Endowment to provide resources for members engaged in mission opportunities.
The Coopers have also set up a Charitable Remainder Unitrust that will ultimately benefit Baptist Children’s Homes of NC, as well as provide the Cooper Family Scholarship at Wake Forest Health Services.
The North Carolina Baptist Foundation is honored to recognize Jack and Joan Cooper as our 2016 Heritage Award recipients.
North Carolina Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission
Bobby & Betty Branson
Bobby & Betty Branson: The world has been touched by the faithful service of volunteers like Bobby and Betty Branson. In 2000, they began working with NCBM/Baptists on Mission through the Mobile Dental Bus Ministry. Betty wrote most of the manuals and served as the hostess and assistant to the dentists. Bobby provided the bus maintenance, sterilized the equipment and they both kept the bus stocked with supplies.
They were a part of dental mission teams that transported the portable dental equipment to Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee so they could minister to those in need. Bobby continues to support the ministry in any way possible.
As members of mission teams from Ephesus Baptist in Raleigh, the Branson’s were participants in mission trips to West Virginia, New York, Spain and Brazil. They were happy to use their vacation time to travel the world to share their faith and provide medical care in Jesus’ name. In 1991, they became charter members of Westwood Baptist Church in Cary. They were married for 60 years before her unexpected death on Dec. 20, 2015. They are the parents of two sons, one of whom preceded them in death on Aug. 15, 2015, and one daughter, in addition to four grandchildren and one great grandson.
Bobby joined the Marine Corps and served his country in Korea from 1951 to 1954. He worked for the United States Postal Service from 1964 until his retirement in 1991. Betty was a registered nurse and retired from Rex Hospital in 1993.
With servant hearts full of grace and generated by love, Bobby and Betty Branson served as the hands and feet of Jesus – not for money, fame, or personal gain but simply to give a helping hand to others. It is an honor for NCBM to recognize Bobby and Betty Branson as our 2016 Heritage Award recipients.
North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
William C. “Bill” Warden Jr.
William C. “Bill” Warden Jr.: Bill Warden is a Christian servant leader. Through his 18 years of service to North Carolina Baptist Hospital (NCBH) and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Warden has embodied the directive of Acts 20:35 – In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Since 1922, NCBH has been a beacon of hope to the sick of North Carolina, particularly Baptists, and Bill Warden has given of his time, energy and talents to help ensure that the healing ministries of the Hospital and the Medical Center have endured and thrived.
Warden was first appointed as a Trustee of North Carolina Baptist Hospital in 1995 and has served five terms. He currently is chairman of the Board of the Hospital and previously served in that capacity in 2009 and 2010. He was instrumental in the integration of the Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences (the Wake Forest School of Medicine) in 2010. Warden served as chairman of the Board of the Medical Center in 2011-2012. Warden is a member of the Wilkesboro Baptist Church, where he has served as deacon. His commitment to health care is not limited to North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He has served on the Board of Wilkes Regional Medical Center for nine years.
Warden’s family includes his wife, Carol, their three children and two grandchildren.
Woman’s Missionary Union of N.C.
Beatrice “Bea” McRae
Beatrice “Bea” McRae: Bea McRae’s heart, even from her youth, has been devoted to missions and ministry. She has served in nearly every leadership position the church and Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) has, from Mission Action Chairman to WMU Director to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, utilizing her zeal and enthusiasm to encourage others to become involved. As a member of First Baptist Church in Lumberton, she assisted in organizing a new mission, which became constituted as a new church.
WMU-NC tapped into her commitment, nominating her to serve on the Executive Board and she eventually became first vice-president and then president. This service included serving as a vice-president of national WMU, where she served in various capacities including Chair of the Centennial Committee for the Centennial Celebration held in Richmond, Va. She has led conferences at Ridgecrest and Glorieta Conference Centers, and written articles for Royal Service, Contempo, and Dimension magazines, for the WMU Planning Guide and WMU Year Book.
She has served on the General Board of the Baptist State Convention in various capacities including the NC/Togo Partnership Steering Committee. She was present at the Bridge Dedication and Pharmacy Dedication service at the conclusion of the NC/Togo Partnership. McRae is an amazing leader, very thorough in planning events and ministries. She is passionate about missions and supports WMU wholeheartedly with her spiritual and monetary gifts. Believing that “missions is a life style, not a trip,” she continues to be involved in missions at her church, association and state levels.
She and Horace have two children and four grandchildren.