North Carolina Baptists celebrated world missions to open their 178th annual meeting Nov. 10-12 and restricted missions giving options to close it.
Between those bookends, the smallest number of messengers since 1956 commissioned 38 international missionaries; approved an extensive rewrite of the Baptist State Convention’s Articles and Bylaws; witnessed the launch of three ministries and adopted 2009 North Carolina Missions Offering allocations.
Hundreds of the 2,136 messengers and 237 visitors responded to altar calls issued by International Mission Board Vice President Tom Elliff during the commissioning service and by BSC President Rick Speas after his sermon. The convention atmosphere met planners’ goal to have a worshipful meeting.
Business sessions moved according to script and were often ahead of schedule.
Until the final morning not a single ballot vote was required, nor had a single messenger spoken from a floor microphone.
That rapid trip through the agenda slowed for the budget report and when Ed Yount presented the long anticipated Giving Plans Study Committee report, which messengers adopted after making a significant amendment.
The committee’s recommendation reduced North Carolina Baptists’ four giving plan options to a single plan, with options. The primary option would have allowed a church to forward 10 percent of its gift to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).
Other options let a church designate two percent to the adopt-an-annuitant program or two percent for divinity schools at Gardner-Webb or Campbell universities, and it allowed for up to three negative designations for the gift still to be counted as Cooperative Program.
The CBF option was an attempt to keep a place at the table for North Carolina Baptists who also have an affinity for the mission of CBF.
Matt Williamson, pastor of Oak Forest Baptist Church in Fletcher, said CBF does not ascribe to scriptural inerrancy, so he moved the option be deleted. After much discussion, it was.
For the second straight year messengers voted down a proposal to include Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) in the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).
Vic Ramsey, pastor of Moyock Baptist Church, moved to include $500,000 for WMU-NC in the NCMO. Roy Smith, retired BSC executive director-treasurer, made the same motion last year, with the same result. Ramsey’s motion received about 10 percent approval.
Earlier, messengers had voted down a motion by Ramsey to remove the 10 percent of NCMO allocated for associational projects. He said he made the motion because the rationale last year to remove WMU-NC from the NCMO was that it was not “directly connected” to the BSC.
Ramsey said he supported the associational projects allocation, but since the associations also are not “directly connected” to the BSC, they should not be in the NCMO. He said he planned to vote against his amendment and would be happy if it failed because its failure would repudiate the principle by which WMU was excluded last year.
After that proposal failed with only about 25 people voting in its favor, Ramsey moved to include WMU-NC in the NCMO.
Final allocations approved include:
North Carolina Baptist Men, $840,000 or 40 percent; church planting, $546,000 or 26 percent; mission camps, $315,000 or 15 percent, associational projects $210,000 or 10 percent; missions education and promotion $189,000 or 9 percent.
Three ministries launched
Three new ministries were introduced to messengers: North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM); Embrace women’s ministry; and a church loans program from the North Carolina Baptist Foundation.
NCBAM will be under the auspices of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). Messengers released the approximately $880,000 to BCH that had been held in escrow from Cooperative Program funds originally intended for Baptist Retirement Homes (BRH).
That money was being held pending resolution of the relationship between BRH and BSC. That has been at an impasse since a task force recommended last year — after an amendment initiated by Philip Addison, of Stoney Point Baptist Church — to withhold funds from BRH until it initiates the process to sever its relationship according to BSC bylaws.
BRH did not initiate such a process. Messengers Nov. 11 voted for BSC to initiate the severance process and bring closure and clarity to the relationship.
Blackwell introduced NCBAM to messengers with an outline of what he intends it to become. Bobby Boyd, retiring director of Catawba County department of social services, will assist Blackwell and an initial director in developing the ministry.
Nearly a million dollars budgeted in 2009 for ministry among the aging will be available to NCBAM, with a “significant amount” of that to be administered by the BSC for special projects, according to John Butler, BSC executive leader for business services.
Embrace women’s ministry will focus on evangelism, discipleship and missions, according to Phyllis Foy, a North American Board missionary who led the task force that formed it.
The new ministry will engage women with the gospel, help form Bible studies and equip women to minister locally and globally.
Clay Warf, executive director of the North Carolina Baptist Foundation (NCBF), announced an opportunity for North Carolina Baptists to invest in “certificates of participation” that will provide resources by which the Foundation can make church loans.
The BSC has contributed $100,000 in startup funds and its investment committee will consider investing in the church loan pool.
The NCBF is the nation’s oldest Baptist foundation, but not the first to be involved in church loans.