The 2017 North Carolina Pastor’s Conference (NCPC) convened Sunday evening, Nov. 5, at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., featuring a lineup of seven speakers and a 200-voice orchestra and choir from First Baptist Church, Indian Trail. The two-day event’s theme, “I Need His Power,” wove through the fabric of sermons delivered by church leaders from across North Carolina and one from Tennessee.
BR Photo by Steve Cooke
Chip Hannah, left, was elected president of the 2019 North Carolina Pastor’s Conference while Jonathan Blaylock was elected as vice president. Hannah serves as pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Whiteville, and Blaylock, who is serving as secretary-treasurer of the group this year, is pastor of West Canton Baptist Church in Canton.
Mark Harris, 2018 Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and initial-interim pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, warned of the proverbial “pride which comes before the fall” as he described the life of King Uzziah from 2 Chronicles 26.
“The power of the presence of God in your life, which brings His blessing upon you, will always do one of two things,” Harris said. “It will either humble you and draw you closer to Him or it will cause your heart to become filled with pride, and ultimately destroy you.”
Harris claimed that individuals, churches, and even nations are subject to those principles.
“We have forgotten what made America a great nation,” Harris said. “We have forgotten what distinguished us from our neighbors to the north and our neighbors to the south.
“Can I remind you that Canada was settled by French explorers who were looking for gold? May I remind you that Mexico was settled by Spanish explorers who were looking for the very same thing, gold?
“And may I remind you that, no matter how much the revisionist historians try to rewrite American history, the truth remains, America was settled by courageous men and women who were not looking for gold, but were looking for God.”
Jerry Chaddick, pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church in Conover, preached from a well-known passage about the “Valley of Dry Bones” in Ezekiel 37.
“Isn’t it interesting?” Chaddick said. “Here are these dead bones, lifeless, devoid of life, devoid of spirit, hopeless, helpless. They can do absolutely nothing for themselves. It reminds me of something else: all of us who were dead in our trespasses and in our sin.”
He said it will take faith, obedience, the Word of God and the Spirit of God to see “life out of death” in the “regeneration of the lost,” “revival in the church,” and the “restoration of a nation.”
Greg Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, talked about unity in local churches and how to resolve conflict.
BR Photo by Steve Cooke
James Walker, lead pastor of Lake Hills Church in Candler, preaches during the Nov. 6 morning session.
“People look at us and they base their opinion on the Lord Jesus Christ by how we treat one another,” said Mathis.
He said there are three reasons why Christians struggle to reconcile after disputes: they are “not as spiritual as they think,” probably don’t know the Bible as well as they imagine and they have never truly understood the meaning of forgiveness.
Mathis drew from the Apostle Paul’s “Damascus Road” experience, when God asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said the same principle applies in churches today.
“When we attack a brother in Christ,” said Mathis, “we’re attacking the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Speaking about “church bullies,” Mathis said, “They might be an object of your vengeance but you need to know they are a soul that Jesus died for on the cross. They are one of His children. He loves them, whether you love them or not, and you are not to push them around.”
Brandon Blair, son of 2017 NCPC President Timmy Blair and youth pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., talked about needing God’s power in student ministry, urging listeners to depend on “the presence of God” and “the Word of God,” as he preached from Mark 2:1-2.
“I’ve had many youth pastors that call, text or message me, and they say, ‘What is the best advice you can give me in student ministry?’ I can tell you what it’s not,” said the younger Blair. “It’s not skinny jeans and lattes … These students don’t need another student. They need a man of God, who’s been in the presence of God, that’s been studying the Word of God, that will stand and preach ‘thus saith the Word of God.’”
Phil Ortego, pastor of Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, called attendees’ attention to both “vertical” and “horizontal” relationships, speaking from the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
He said Christians must love people “on the way,” “in the way” and those who require one to go “out of the way.”
James Walker, pastor of Lake Hills Church in Candler, urged Christians to seek persistently God’s power in their personal life. He asked three questions:
- Are you seeing consistent spiritual growth in your spiritual life?
- Are you more interested in pleasing people or pleasing God?
- Are you trying to bear fruit without abiding?
“None of us, at any point in our spiritual journey,” Walker said, “should ever be satisfied with where we are in that spiritual journey.”
Mike Whitson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Indian Trail, narrated stories from his life and the difficulties he has experienced, while encouraging attendees from Philippians 4:10.
“Paul says my sense of wellbeing – my significance, my esteem, the meaning of life, fulfillment – has absolutely nothing to do with what I have, but it has everything to do with who Jesus is in me,” said Whitson.
“Sometimes, men, God may be taking you through the university of adversity, and in the name of Jesus, don’t bail out until you graduate.”
President Blair, pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, presided over the assembly’s election procedures for 2019 NCPC officers.
Two candidates were nominated for the presidency. J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, nominated Chris Griggs, pastor of Denver Baptist Church. Josh Phillips, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Norwood, nominated Chip Hannah, pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Whiteville.
Blair twice called for a show of hands to determine the winner, but the results were unclear. He said no ballots were available, then asked attendees to stand upon hearing the name of their preferred candidate. After briefly consulting with Dale Robertson, 2017 NCPC secretary treasurer, Blair declared Hannah the winner.
Jason Miller, pastor of Dutch Cove Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, nominated Jonathan Blaylock, pastor of West Canton Baptist Church, for vice president. Blaylock ran unopposed.
No nominations were made for the office of secretary-treasurer for 2019. Elections for the unfilled post will take place at the 2018 meeting, Blair said.
Three officers for the 2018 NCPC were elected by acclamation in 2016: Matt Capps, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, president; Chris Griggs, lead pastor of Denver Baptist Church, vice-president; and Blaylock, secretary-treasurer.