Shelby Mission Camp was dedicated and pronounced open for ministry in an April 29 service attended by hundreds of volunteers and supporters.
Operated by North Carolina Baptist Men, the camp will become the home base for thousands of volunteers to work from as they minister across Cleveland County and beyond in coming years.
This will follow the pattern set by the Red Springs Mission Camp, opened in 2008 in Robeson County, from which several thousand volunteers worked in 2011.
Operation of the two camps is funded by N.C. Baptists through their support of the N.C. Missions Offering, the same offering that supports N.C. Baptist Men. The offering’s 2012 goal is $2.1 million.
The 45-acre Shelby Mission Camp (SMC) is located just off the U.S. 74 by-pass inside Shelby’s city limits.
The complex includes a 16,000-square-foot building housing an administrative section, dining room and bunk house, which can house and feed up to 200 volunteers at a time, plus a separate 9,000-square-foot warehouse and other buildings. Volunteers who gave time and money toward the camp’s completion were honored during the Sunday afternoon dedication service.
“When you do work for the Lord, He puts a lot of people in your pathway. God has put some special people in our pathway, and we want to recognize those people today,” said Eddie Williams, who with his wife, Martha, serves as mission camp director. The two have coordinated the three-year site development and construction of the camp. Earlier, they helped establish the Red Springs Mission Camp in a renovated textile factory. Before then, they led the massive relief effort of some 40,000 N.C. Baptist volunteers to Gulfport, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina. That three-year effort resulted in the construction of 715 houses.
Williams singled out volunteer Tony Howell, a member of Massapoag Baptist Church in Lincolnton, who worked on plumbing; Rick Conard, a member of Starnes Cove Baptist Church in Asheville, who worked on the Shelby camp’s electrical system over the past three years; and Bobby Suggs, “the best Methodist friend a Baptist could have,” who has worked 200 days at the camp. Suggs is a member of St. Lukes United Methodist Church in Hickory.
BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Key leaders in North Carolina Baptist Men and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) share a light moment April 29 before the dedication of the Shelby Mission Camp. Chuck Register, left, executive leader of BSC church planting and mission development; Tom Beam, Baptist Men student mobilization consultant; and Richard Brunson, executive director of N.C. Baptist Men and partnership missions, talk with John Butler (in green), BSC executive group leader of business services, and Brian Davis, executive leader of administration and Convention relations. See photo gallery.
In the dedication service Williams cited Colossians 3:23, which says “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” explaining, “To me, that means 100 percent and not 90 percent or 95 percent. We’re working for the Lord. If it’s a mission camp or witnessing or whatever we’re doing, we should do it for the Lord at 100 percent.”
N.C. Baptist Men staffer Tom Beam announced that Tabor City Baptist Church has named a Royal Ambassador Lads chapter after the Williamses. The boys did yard work to raise money for a set of flags to be displayed at the camp.
Dana Hall, president of N.C. Baptist Men, recalled visiting the camp the first time.
He said the mission camp will function like he thinks the church should be, “not as a place where we all gather once a week and enjoy each other’s company and leave for the rest of the week and go about our business, but a place where people come to roll up their sleeves and get to work, go out in the community to work with the poor, the outcasts and the overlooked and build relationships with these people and bring them to the table.”
“This place is to the glory of God, because God is the one who has done this,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of N.C. Baptist Men.
He called attention to Ephesians 3:20 which says God is able to do more than all we ask or imagine.
He also cited 1 Peter 2:12 which calls for good conduct by believers among unbelievers. This verse was a key one when N.C. Baptist Men team members were evaluating the cost and time the mission camps would require.
“It’s not so much what we say; it’s what we do,” Brunson said. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Brunson conceived the idea of a mission camp, an innovative approach to missions work, as a way to capitalize on the equipment and experience N.C. Baptists gained in the Gulfport response.
The new mission camp “is an expression of the mission of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, to assist the local church in fulfilling its mission,” said Brian Davis, citing Acts 1:8. Davis is the Convention’s executive leader for administration and convention relations.
“We want the churches to utilize this camp to help them fulfill their mission strategy of taking the gospel anywhere and everywhere the Lord Jesus would call them to,” Davis said, praising the cooperative relationships between individuals, churches, associations, the Convention and N.C. Baptist Men that were involved in constructing the camp.
“This is just the beginning,” Davis said, “because it’s not finished until volunteers are filling up the place and are working in the area.”
To sign up for missions projects or get more information on the Shelby Mission Camp, contact Mary Mountz at the Baptist Men’s office: [email protected], call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5606, or go to: www.baptistsonmission.org/Projects/North-Carolina/Shelby-Missions-Camp.