North Carolina Baptists’ board of directors will consider a proposal by the Piedmont Land Conservancy that would pay to permanently protect about 200 acres at Caraway Camp and Conference Center from development.
Such a proposal was introduced at the Jan. 27-28 Baptist State Convention (BSC) board meeting held at Caraway, but no action was taken pending development of a master plan for the entire 1,100-acre site, which includes the popular conference center and Camp Caraway, filled each summer with Royal Ambassador campers.
Fund raising for additional hotel space also will be delayed, pending development of the master plan.
In the proposal the conservancy would pay Caraway to set aside the acreage in the flood plain on both sides of Caraway Creek to ensure it is never developed with buildings and non-permeable surfaces. Setting the land aside in that manner would not prohibit its use for outdoor activities.
The board also elected Allan Blume to a third term as chair; elected a new Executive Committee; heard how Convention staff is adjusting to income below budget; and heard reports from committees, agencies and institutions.
Eddie and Martha Williams, known for their work coordinating North Carolina Baptists’ relief efforts in Gulfport, Miss., have been coordinating the development of Red Springs mission camp, and will be moving to the new Shelby property, where N.C. Baptist Men is building a mission camp on 33 acres inside the city limits.
It will be ready for Deep Impact experiences this summer, according to Dale Duncan, president of North Carolina Baptist Men.
The board continued the pastoral ministries consultant position, following the retirement of Wayne Oakes, because it is deemed “mission critical.”
Oakes led the “sharing system” which helped connect churches and ministers, as well as leading in conflict management and minister’s emergency assistance.
A leader for the new women’s ministry Embrace also is being sought.
John Butler, executive director for business services, said 10 approved positions remain vacant. The 2009 budget internally has been “pared” to “a little less than 90 percent of the approved budget for 2009,” Butler said.
George Cagle, a member of the Executive Committee and of the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute Board of Trustees, asked permission for Fruitland to submit an offer to buy a house across the street from campus to use as a dormitory for women, of whom five are now enrolled.
He said “Friends of Fruitland” will be able to contribute about $75,000 toward the asking price of $154,000 for the four- or five-bedroom house on .78 acre and he asked for a loan from the Convention for the rest. He was encouraged to investigate a purchase agreement with the implication that if an agreement was reached, funds would be found.
Interim Fruitland President Greg Mathis told the board 175 students were enrolled at Fruitland and that he “wouldn’t be surprised if within months we would have a new president.”
Duncan reminded board members that his organization is about more than disaster relief. Its purpose is to “help churches involve their members in missions.”
He said churches and individuals in crisis tend to turn inward. Instead of “just tying a knot and hanging on,” he said Baptist Men during difficult times will continue their outward focus and, “We’re going to make things happen.”
He said almost $3 million in a variety of seeds was donated and will be repackaged by volunteers at the Red Springs mission camp for distribution in worldwide agricultural ministries.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, said meeting the North Carolina Mission Offering (NCMO) goal was “cause to celebrate,” even though the goal was $500,000 lower than the previous year because Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) is no longer a recipient of funds. He said combined gifts to the NCMO and WMU-NC’s Heck-Jones Offering demonstrated that “North Carolina Baptist churches gave well to support the ministries that have been included in the NCMO.”
Ruby Fulbright, executive director-treasurer of WMU-NC, reported later that gifts to the Heck-Jones Offering, which supports the operations and programs of WMU-NC, totaled $1,006,000 in 2008. Had that offering been combined with the NCMO, it would have been the largest NCMO offering ever.
Duncan said Baptist Men is planning a rally in each of the 10 regions in August to promote the NCMO and to distribute promotional materials.
“I rejoice our churches are still looking outward and trusting God to supply their needs and they are not giving up on missions,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield said North Carolina Baptists’ church rolls increased by 133 in 2008, including 108 church starts and 25 established churches that affiliated with the Convention. Twenty-six of the church starts were Hispanic churches, a new North Carolina record for Hispanic church starts in a year.
Butler said personnel costs — adjusted for inflation — are the lowest since 2003.
Three at-large members who bring specific expertise were added to the Business Services Special Committee.
They are Concord businessman Raiford Troutman; Steve Briggs, associate pastor of administration, for First Baptist Church, Hendersonville and Judson Hollifield, an attorney in Asheville. He is the son of the BSC executive director-treasurer.
At-large committee members are not members of the board, but are enlisted to ensure business services has access to the professional expertise it needs when considering actions that involve the widely diverse legal, financial, land use and construction areas of Convention business.
In his report, Clay Warf, director of the North Carolina Baptist Foundation, took the long view on investing, following what he called a “pretty devastating” year.
“Be patient,” he said. “Trust the Lord. He does provide for us. We’re going to be continuing to invest with that in mind.”
He said the foundation opened 73 new accounts last year and received $7.5 million in new money. “The Lord’s people have not quit in giving, and they won’t quit,” he said.
Warf introduced Russell Jones, who will direct the new church financial services arm of the foundation. A Wingate University graduate with 25 years in banking, Jones is the son of longtime Durham pastor Crate Jones.
Jones is “working feverishly” to finish developing the final pieces of a church loan program, he said, and looks forward to the day in late spring or early summer when they can receive the first application.
Richard Brunson, executive director-treasurer of N.C. Baptist Men, said more than 2,400 North Carolina Baptists volunteered in national and international projects in 2008.
“North Carolina Baptists are touching people, with the hands of Christ and eyes of Christ and feet of Christ,” he said.
Board members demonstrated the involvement of North Carolina Baptists worldwide when several asked prayer for mission and evangelism trips they are about to leave on to places as distant as Ecuador, Brazil, Nepal, Lebanon, India, El Salvador and Hawaii.
Wayne Key, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Cherryville, asked if the BSC was supporting the annual offering of Baptist Retirement Homes (BRH), since “they are no longer a part of us.”
Hollifield said a committee is working to clarify the relationship between the Convention and BRH. “Until that process is completed and the Convention votes in annual session to accept that process, they are officially a part of the BSC,” Hollifield said.
The Convention has not promoted the BRH offering, but BRH is an “autonomous organization that can promote in churches, just like any parachurch organization could do,” Hollifield said.
Several Convention employees were recognized for tenure, in five-year increments. They are Rhonda Freeman, Larry Jones, Bill Copper and Janice Rores, five years; Betty Pleasant, 10 years; Brian Hemphill and Milton A. Hollifield Jr., 15 years; Wendy Edwards and Marilyn Hill, 20 years; and David Lloyd, 30 years.