N.C. Baptists approve incorporation, keep 4 giving options

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (BP)--Messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's annual meeting voted nearly unanimously to approve incorporation and, by a comfortable majority, defeated a motion to change the current four optional giving plans to one which would increase Cooperative Program giving to the Southern Baptist Convention.

The incorporation of the state convention changes the convention's legal status from an association to a nonprofit corporation. The change was more than cosmetic -- the move protects the state convention, and its officers, in case it is sued. It also has the potential for saving the convention money in the long run and making the process of doing business easier.

"Thirty-five years ago when I served North Carolina Baptists as convention president, I assumed we were incorporated even then," said Coy Privette, the chairman of the convention's constitution and bylaws committee. "If someone asked me if we were incorporated, I'd say yes."

Overall, nine resolutions for incorporation were approved by the 3,132 messengers during the Nov. 15-17 sessions in one of the lowest-attended conventions in years according to officials.

The incorporation process began with the ratification of the formation of the corporation. Once that was approved, messengers voted on a block of six resolutions at once, ranging from transferring funds, electing the committees, officers and directors, the designation of additional individuals covered by indemnification, merging the trustees of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Inc., applying for new tax-exempt status and the implementation of the agreement.

Once that was done, the messengers, voting as the unincorporated association, transferred all funds and properties to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Inc. and approved implementation of all agreements.

The new articles of incorporation and bylaws were filed with the state of North Carolina. Prior to the convention, paperwork applying for incorporation was filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State's office.

"We've been lucky to date," said Glenn Harder, BSCNC executive leader for business services. "Incorporation will offer protections not afforded as an association, and it will make business functions more efficient."

In other business, a motion to restore the single giving plan of the traditional Cooperative Program as the sole method of funding missions outreach by North Carolina Baptists was introduced by Ted Stone, president of Durham, N.C.-based Ted Stone Ministries and a member of the board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

After much debate by the messengers, however, and pleas to keep the four plans in place by Executive Director-Treasurer Jim Royston and other BSCNC officers and board members, the motion was defeated.

"I'm grateful for everyone who came here to support the motion," Stone said afterward. "I do realize when the leadership of the convention is very strongly against it and have been for a number of years, that it's very difficult with them speaking through the media prior to the convention to get messengers here to vote for it.

"I'm a Southern Baptist and I'm proud to be a Southern Baptist. I hope the leadership of the convention will do something and make efforts to increase the Cooperative Program gifts which come in to the SBC. It would be beneficial for us and beneficial to the denomination. I've sown the seed. Now I have to wait for the Holy Spirit to act and I will be happy any way He sees fit."

Since 1991, North Carolina Baptists have endorsed four optional giving plans, which were created from dissatisfaction among some state leaders about the conservative direction of the Southern Baptist Convention. Stone's motion also would have asked the state convention's general board and its budget committee to divide the Cooperative Program missions funds by allocating 65 percent for the state convention budget and 35 percent for Southern Baptist Convention causes.

Messengers approved a resolution defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The resolution was an amendment to a similar resolution presented by the convention's resolutions committee. The committee's draft included the same statement on the definition of marriage but did not include language calling for constitutional protection to be accorded traditional marriage.

New missions partnerships with state conventions in Hawaii and Wyoming were approved by messengers, as was the unopposed re-election of David Horton, pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Greensboro, as president of the convention for his second term. First Vice President Phyllis Foy, a laywoman from Mooresville, and Second Vice President Brian Davis, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Statesville, also were re-elected without opposition for second terms.


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