Milton A. Hollifield Jr. has served as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) for the past 14 years, and he has served the state convention for 27 years overall. Earlier this year, Hollifield announced his plans to retire effective Feb. 28, 2021.
This year’s BSC annual meeting will be Hollifield’s final meeting as executive director-treasurer and will include a special celebration of his ministry.
Hollifield recently took time to answer some questions about his life and ministry, which also includes service as a pastor and director of missions. Following is a transcript of that conversation that has been edited for length.
Q: How did you arrive at your decision to retire?
A: I had been praying for almost a year seeking God’s leadership about my tenure of employment with the convention because of my age. I did not take this decision lightly, nor did I make it because I wanted to resign. Instead, my desire was to walk in step with God’s plan.
At the end of this journey of prayer, I became convinced that God was leading me to step down from my leadership role with the convention. When He made that clear, I announced my plans to the executive committee in May of this year.
Q: Those who know you won’t be surprised that you spent an extended season in prayer about your retirement because prayer is such a vital part of your life and ministry. Who instilled a passion for prayer in your life?
A: I remember as a boy my parents gathering our family together every night to read the Bible and pray, so they established that foundation at an early age.
My father was a Baptist minister, and I often traveled with him to different meetings and saw firsthand the importance of prayer in his own ministry. One of my former pastors, Dr. James H. Johnson, was another person who taught me so much about prayer.
God actually called me into the gospel ministry while I was praying with a group of men in a cottage prayer meeting led by Dr. Johnson on a Saturday night in 1975.
Q: As you reflect on your time as executive director-treasurer, what have been some of the highlights for you?
A: Since the beginning of my tenure as executive director-treasurer in 2006, I have stated that my desire is to see the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina become the strongest force in the history of this convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
By God’s grace, we are fulfilling that local and global vision.
Thanks to the prayers, support and involvement of North Carolina Baptist pastors and churches, we are making good progress in our disciple-making efforts that will produce greater evangelism results here in North Carolina, in North America and around the world.
Throughout my tenure, I have also tried to focus on things we have in common rather than focusing on our differences.
I have always sought to lift up Jesus Christ and the gospel. Even though we may have differences, I have challenged North Carolina Baptists to focus on what we have in common, and that is our love and allegiance to Jesus as Savior and Lord.
I have tried to emphasize the importance and magnify the value of networking through cooperative missions support by helping churches and associations work together in order to engage more people in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Q: What are your plans in retirement?
A: Gloria and I are planning to return to the Asheville area in western North Carolina and enjoy being closer to family.
That is where our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren live, but that is also where Gloria and I grew up. We still have siblings there, and all of our family is in western North Carolina, so we are looking forward to returning to that area to be closer to them.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to North Carolina Baptists?
A: I am so thankful to God for you. Through the years as I have traveled with Gloria across this state, visited and preached in your churches and associations, you have affirmed my leadership and told me how much you appreciate me and this convention. Of greatest importance, however, is the fact that you have told me how you prayed for me on a regular basis.
Together, we have seen God work through those prayers and do some great things. This has occurred because so many people in North Carolina Baptist churches and the state convention staff were praying.
What a joy it has been to serve you and to serve God with you. It’s also been an honor to lead and work with the outstanding employed staff and elected leaders of our convention.