North Carolina Baptists celebrated God’s faithfulness amid a tumultuous year as they gathered around the theme of “God’s Great Hope” for the 190th annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) on Nov. 10 at First Baptist Church of Charlotte.
During the meeting, messengers approved a $27 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2021, elected a new slate of convention officers and celebrated the ministry of retiring Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. Messengers also heard sermons from state convention President Steve Scoggins and longtime International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Sam James, as well as other ministry reports.
The event drew a total of 504 attendees – 489 messengers and 15 guests – with social distancing measures and other health and safety protocols in place. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s meeting was changed to an abbreviated, one-day event by a vote of the state convention’s board of directors.
The meeting had originally been scheduled for Nov. 9-10 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The venue change marked the first time in many years that the annual meeting has been held in a local church rather than a coliseum or convention center.
According to state convention records, the annual meeting schedule had been altered at least one other time in history. The 1918 meeting was rescheduled from Dec. 5-7, 1918, to Jan. 14, 1919, “on the account of the influenza epidemic.” The Spanish flu pandemic spread worldwide from 1918-19 and was first identified in the United States in the spring of 1918.
Messengers approved a recommendation from the board of directors to adopt a $27 million CP budget for 2021, which reflected an 11.5% decrease of $3.5 million from the 2020 budget. The approved budget also left the percentage of undesignated CP receipts that will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at 42%, marking the first time in 14 years that the SBC percentage has not been increased.
In a separate measure, messengers approved a recommendation to evenly split any undesignated CP receipts in excess of the 2021 budget amount by allocating 50% to the SBC and 50% to the ministry groups of the state convention.
Messengers also set the 2021 goal for the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) at $2.1 million, which is unchanged from 2020.
Messengers also elected a new slate of convention officers. Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Church of Icard in Connelly Springs, was elected president. Quintell Hill, lead pastor of Multiply Community Church in Monroe, was elected first vice president. Jason Miller, pastor of Dutch Cove Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, was elected second vice president.
Pardue ran against Ronnie Parrott, lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Huntersville. Pardue received 280 votes (57%) to Parrott’s 207 (43%). Pardue, who served the past two years as the state convention’s first vice president, was nominated by Ed Yount, recently retired senior pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover.
Hill ran unopposed and was nominated by David Mills, lead pastor of Journey Church in Havelock.
Miller ran against Allan Murray, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church in Kelly. Miller received 311 votes (65%) to Murray’s 162 (35%). Miller was nominated by Perry Brindley, associational mission strategist of the Buncombe Baptist Association in western North Carolina.
During a special recognition ceremony, messengers honored Milton A. Hollifield Jr., who is retiring as the BSC’s 14th executive director-treasurer on Feb. 28, 2021. Hollifield has served as N.C. Baptists’ top executive for more than 14 years and has served on the state convention staff for more than 27 years overall.
Hollifield was lauded as a man of prayer, conviction, character and integrity through a series of in-person and video testimonials from family, friends, colleagues and leaders from across North Carolina and Southern Baptist life. Under Hollifield’s leadership, North Carolina has become a leading supporter of missions through the CP and special offerings.
In his final address to messengers, Hollifield encouraged N.C. Baptists to devote themselves to the Lord and continue to work together to share the gospel, make disciples and advance God’s kingdom.
“We give God glory for all the wonderful things He has done, is doing and will do,” Hollifield said.
Longtime IMB missionary Sam James delivered the annual convention sermon. James preached on living and witnessing for Christ from Colossians 1:24-27, and he shared examples of how he saw God work during his time serving in Vietnam. James said believers are called to surrender, submit and serve Christ.
“We don’t just have a message,” James said. “We are the message. This world needs to see Christ in you.”
James was introduced by SBC President J.D. Greear, who now pastors the church that James planted prior to being commissioned to serve in Vietnam. In 1961, James planted Homestead Heights Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., which was relaunched as The Summit Church after Greear became pastor in December 2001.
State convention President Steve Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, N.C., opened the meeting with a message from Romans 15:13 on the theme of “God’s Great Hope.”
Scoggins said biblical hope is based on the certainty of God’s character, the power of the gospel and what the Bible reveals about the future.
“We have a God that enables us to abound in hope,” Scoggins said.
Richard Brunson, executive director of N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission, shared how God has opened new doors of ministry amid COVID-19. Brunson said his team has been coordinating networks of churches and volunteers across the state to deliver and distribute fresh food and produce to families impacted by the coronavirus.
Brunson said Baptists on Mission was the only faith-based organization to receive a USDA grant to help provide food to these families through the “Famers to Families” food box program.
Baptists on Mission has undertaken the food distribution program while continuing to engage in its other ministries. Brunson said disaster relief rebuild efforts are ongoing in eastern North Carolina more than two years after Hurricane Florence struck the state as one of the costliest storms in history.
Sandy Marks and Terry Long of the BSC’s Church Health and Revitalization team shared a report on the state convention’s church revitalization efforts, which focus on developing the man, the ministry and the mission in local churches. At the 2019 annual meeting, Hollifield announced the expansion of the state convention’s church revitalization efforts through the formation of the new team that is headed by Marks.
Marks and Long said an estimated 82% of the approximately 4,300 N.C. Baptist churches are in need of revitalization, and many pastors are receiving individual coaching or are part of revitalization cohorts. They encouraged N.C. Baptists to pray for churches that are involved in the revitalization process, for new churches to start the process and for humility to depend upon God during the process.
No resolutions were presented to messengers for consideration this year. Additionally, no items were brought before the convention during the miscellaneous business session.
Messengers did affirm a slate of individuals to serve on the state convention’s board of directors, convention committees, and on the boards and committees of the state convention’s related entities, which include the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, the Biblical Recorder, the N.C. Baptist Foundation and N.C. Baptist Hospital.
Messengers also voted to hold next year’s annual meeting on Nov. 15-16, 2021, in Greensboro. They also approved a motion for H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., to deliver the 2021 convention sermon.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chad Austin is editor of communications for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)