Todd Unzicker, a local church and denominational leader with a passion for evangelism, missions and church planting, has been elected as the next executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Unzicker received a majority of votes from the 328 messengers representing N.C. Baptist churches who gathered at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem May 22, for a special called meeting of the state convention.
Bob Foy, a member at Trinity Baptist Church in Mooresville, was also nominated by Chris Thompson, a messenger from South River Baptist Church in Statesville.
A total of 317 ballots were properly cast for executive director-treasurer, with Unzicker receiving 233 votes (73.5%) and Foy receiving 84 votes (26%).
A 44-year-old native of Fairfax, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., Unzicker has served on staff at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham since 2012. Previously, he served as a director of missions in Florida and as a missionary in Central America.
Unzicker will succeed Milton A. Hollifield Jr., who served as the state convention’s top executive for nearly 15 years. Hollifield announced his plans to retire in March 2020 and retired on Feb. 28 of this year. Longtime BSC staff member Brian Upshaw has led the convention on an interim basis since Hollifield’s retirement.
During the special convention meeting, Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex and president of the state convention’s board of directors, formally nominated Unzicker on behalf of the board, in accordance with state convention bylaws.
The bylaws stipulate that the board of directors shall nominate an individual to the convention for consideration as executive director-treasurer during an annual meeting or special called meeting. The bylaws also permit other nominations to be made from the floor of the convention.
The board affirmed Unzicker’s nomination during a special meeting held April 16 following the recommendation of a search committee that spent 10 months working to present a candidate to serve as the next executive director-treasurer.
Noah Crowe, pastor of Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church in Murphy, chaired the nine-member search team that recommended Unzicker to the board. Crowe said the committee considered “a number of qualified candidates,” but the committee was unanimous in its belief that “Todd is God’s choice as the person to lead North Carolina Baptists into the uncharted waters that we will face in the present and future generations.”
Prior to Unzicker’s current role as chief of staff at The Summit Church, he led The Summit’s missions and church planting efforts as pastor of sending and as a campus pastor. The Summit became the top missions-sending church in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the top Cooperative Program giving church in North Carolina during Unzicker’s tenure as pastor of sending.
Unzicker has also worked closely with The Summit’s lead pastor, J.D. Greear, during Greear’s current tenure as president of the SBC.
In a video to messengers, Greear praised Unzicker as a “visionary leader” who played a “massive role” in cultivating a culture of sending people to serve on mission for God across the United States and around the world.
“Todd is a visionary leader who prays God-sized prayers and pursues God-sized dreams,” Greear said. “He is gifted at bringing people together and unifying them for the sake of our common gospel and our urgent mission.”
Unzicker also played a key role in mobilizing churches around recent SBC strategies such as the “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative, the “Go2” collegiate missions initiative and the “Caring Well” initiative to help churches prevent sex abuse and care for victims.
Amy Whitfield, a messenger from Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, said she has gotten to know Unzicker and his family on a professional and personal level through her work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and with the SBC.
Whitfield said reaching the nations locally and globally is “the heart of their entire family.”
Before joining the staff of The Summit Church, Unzicker served as the director of missions for the Holmes Baptist Association in Bonifay, Florida, from 2007 to 2012. There he worked to bring mostly small, rural churches with bivocational pastors together for church planting and international missions. He also served for two years as a missionary in Central America.
Humanly speaking, the gospel advances most rapidly on the two wings of relationships and resources … If churches are God’s ‘Plan A,’ then North Carolina Baptists are going to help churches connect with other churches.
Marty Childers, associational mission strategist with the Yates Baptist Association in Durham described Unzicker as someone whose “heart is aligned with God’s purpose.”
“We need an EDT who brings a sense of urgency to get the gospel message to those who have not heard, not only here in North Carolina, but also to the ends of the earth,” Childers said. “I believe that person is Todd Unzicker.”
Unzicker earned his bachelor’s degree from the Baptist Bible College of Florida and his master of divinity from SEBTS. Prior to his salvation and his call to ministry, Unzicker worked as a sports reporter covering the nationally ranked University of Georgia football program. He and his wife, Ashley, have three children.
Several pastors, ministry leaders and others joined in a prayer of commissioning for Unzicker and his family to conclude the service.
Unzicker will begin serving as executive director-treasurer immediately, although he will serve in dual roles for a few weeks as he hands off responsibilities at The Summit Church and others related to the SBC annual meeting.
“Todd’s vision for the Baptist state convention builds on our past while moving us into the future,” Hollfiied said in a video endorsement to messengers. “He desires to bring people and churches together from all sizes, backgrounds, races and ethnicities.
“As your next executive director-treasurer, Todd will continue to focus on the gospel and magnify what God can accomplish through us when we work together to reach those from every tribe, tongue, people and nation in our state and beyond.”
Unzicker addressed messengers and guests following the vote and drew from Revelation 5 to share his vision for the convention.
“Humanly speaking, the gospel advances most rapidly on the two wings of relationships and resources,” Unzicker said. “If churches are God’s ‘Plan A,’ then North Carolina Baptists are going to help churches connect with other churches.”
Working to bring resources to churches will fuel missions partnerships across the state and around the world, Unzicker said.
“Every church has a role in the Kingdom of God.”
Unzicker hopes to see the convention send 500 new missionaries, plant 100 churches per year and see increased diversity throughout North Carolina churches. He also wants to increase disaster relief volunteers and medical and dental care through Baptists on Mission; work with Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina to meet foster care needs and champion theological training through SEBTS and Fruitland Baptist Bible College.
“North Carolina Baptists, we know God wins,” Unzicker said. “Let’s join Him and be a movement of churches on mission together. God bless you. Let’s get to work.”
EDITOR’S NOTE – This article has been updated to correct the number of messengers in attendance.