North Carolina Baptist churches increased their support to missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program (CP) and other special offerings in 2017, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) officials reported to the BSC Board of Directors at a meeting held Jan. 29-30 at Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro.
Year-over-year giving through CP, the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO) and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) increased significantly from 2016 to 2017, BSC officials said.
CP giving totaled more than $29.9 million in 2017, which was up by more than $1 million (3.7 percent) from 2016. Although total giving receipts fell about $428,000 (1.4 percent) below last year’s $30.375 million budget, the convention still finished 2017 operating in the black.
“We are very grateful that God continues to bless us as we are seeking to be faithful to the strategy that He has given us to impact lostness in North Carolina,” said John Butler, the BSC’s executive leader for Business Services.
Giving to the NCMO, which supports a variety of ministries including disaster relief and church planting, totaled more than $2 million in 2017, an increase of more than 10.5 percent from 2016.
Although NCMO giving fell about $18,000 short of the offering’s $2.1 million goal last year, BSC Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis said the increase in total giving shows that churches are recognizing the value of supporting NCMO in addition to making designated gifts.
“Many times when we have multiple disasters in the fall when the North Carolina Missions Offering is received, that tends to have a negative impact on the NCMO,” Davis said. “This year, that was not the case. Our churches gave generously to the North Carolina Missions Offering and generously to a number of different designated causes for hurricanes and other disaster relief.”
Last year also saw increased support from North Carolina churches for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
Giving to the AAEO in North Carolina totaled more than $6.2 million in 2017, an increase of more than 4 percent. Giving to the LMCO in North Carolina totaled nearly $14.9 million in 2017, an increase of nearly 14.7 percent.
Although Butler said some of the increase in Lottie Moon giving for 2017 could be attributed to how accounting deadlines fell at the end of both 2016 and 2017, he said last year’s total marked the highest amount ever given to the LMCO by North Carolina Baptists.
Butler also said North Carolina ranked first among all state conventions in LMCO gifts and second in AAEO gifts last year.
Board officers elected
In other business, the board elected officers and at-large members to the board’s Executive Committee.
Marc Francis, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, and John Mark Harrison, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, were both re-elected as board president and vice president, respectively.
Four board members were also elected to serve as at-large members of the Executive Committee. They were:
- Ken Jones, pastor of evangelism and discipleship at Shady Grove Baptist Church in Cherryville.
- Matt Ledbetter, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sylva.
- Clay Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church of Matthews.
- Melanie Wallace, member of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell.
In addition, six other individuals joined the Executive Committee by virtue of being elected as chairmen of one of the board’s committees. They are:
- Rick Byrd, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro and chairman of the Evangelism and Discipleship Committee.
- Lawrence Clapp, pastor of South Elm Street Baptist Church in Greensboro and chairman of the Church Planting and Missions Partnerships Committee.
- Troy Grant, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Hickory and chairman of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee.
- George Hunnicutt, pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church in Monroe and chairman of the Communications Committee.
- Boyce Porter, pastor of Geneva Baptist Church in Camden and chairman of the Convention Relations Special Committee.
- David Richardson, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Creedmoor and chairman of the Business Services Special Committee.
The board also approved seven individuals recommended by BSC President Lee Pigg to serve on the convention’s Committee on Nominations. They are:
- Mark Brady, associate pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Moyock.
- Carolyn Fowler, member of Meherrin Baptist Church in Murfreesboro.
- Sam Harvin, pastor of Anderson Creek Community Church in Spring Lake.
- Connie Millsaps, member of Pine Grove Baptist Church in Franklin.
- Josh Pruitt, pastor of West Point Baptist Church in Rutherfordton.
- Jason Wilkinson, pastor of Union Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon.
- Robin Fisher, pastor of Sunset Avenue Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, who will fill the 2018 unexpired term of Joseph Phan.
The board also approved recommendations for two individuals to serve as at-large members of the Business Services Special Committee. They were:
- Eric Chetwood, member of the Summit Church in Durham.
- James Zik, associate pastor of Beach Road Baptist Church in Southport.
Caraway motion approved
In other business, the board approved a motion brought by the Business Services Special Committee authorizing the convention to negotiate a contract with the Piedmont Land Conservancy for a conservation easement on up to 235 acres of land at Caraway Conference Center and Camp.
Conservation easements are legal agreements between landowners and private organizations or public agencies which limit certain uses and development on a specified piece of property.
The Caraway easement would prohibit any future residential or commercial development on the tract of land, but would still permit Caraway to use the property for its camps and other recreational and educational programs and activities.
Convention officials said they estimate the easement would generate between $400,000 and $500,000 based on an appraisal of the property.
The Piedmont Land Conservancy would raise funds from private donors to purchase the easement rights and all proceeds would be placed in a fund earmarked for future development projects at Caraway.
Caraway and convention officials said the easement would not impact the camp’s plans for future growth.
The easement property is not part of Caraway’s long-term development plans, and even with the easement, the camp still owns about 500 acres of land that could be used for development.
“This wouldn’t restrict us in any way or affect our long-range plans for Caraway … or our activities at Camp Caraway and the conference center,” Butler said.
Caraway Director Jimmy Huffman called the proposed easement a “win-win” situation.
“It’s a property that we can continue to use just as we have, and we’ll get some compensation for it,” Huffman said, adding that among the places at Caraway to designate for preservation, “this would be the space.”
Any negotiated easement agreement and contract would be presented to the BSC Board of Directors for discussion and a final vote.
The next meeting of the board is scheduled for May 21-22 at Caraway Conference Center.