N.C. Baptists pray for spiritual awakening
GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) -- After weeks of focused prayer and a call for spiritual awakening, the 182nd annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina ended with 34 North American Mission Board missionaries being sent out to plant churches in some of the least evangelized areas of the country and Canada.
With the theme "Awaken," based on Romans 13, 1,605 messengers and 284 guests from 762 North Carolina churches gathered at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Special Events Center Nov. 12-13.
On the opening night, people were on their knees -- and some face down on a concrete floor -- in prayer. The meeting focused on spiritual renewal, prayer and missions.
"Our time together in Greensboro ... has been the object of much prayer," Mark Harris, BSC president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, told the crowd. During the month of October, in response to a request by convention leaders, some North Carolina Baptists set aside time to pray daily for the annual meeting.
"We've been praying that hearts would be awakened," Harris said, noting that coordinators sought to make this year's event "unlike any annual meeting."
"They sense the Holy Spirit calling North Carolina Baptists to action," Harris said.
Brad O'Brien, a former intern at The Summit Church in Durham, told how he and his wife Jenna Marie, who have two daughters, will serve as NAMB church planters in Baltimore.
"We're going into a city that is less than 9 percent evangelical," O'Brien said. "We're asking for God to open doors for us that we couldn't open for ourselves."
In addition to the commissioning service and ministry reports, messengers approved a 2013 Cooperative Program budget of $33.5 million, which reflects no increase over the current year.
"Our year-to-date receipts are significantly under the $33,500,000 approved budget for 2012," said Stan Welch, chair of the BSC Board of Directors' budget committee. "We felt it would be unwise to increase the budget at this point."
For the eighth year, however, the BSC budget did include a one-half percentage point increase of the amount forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention, bringing the allocation to 36 percent. The North Carolina budget does not contain shared expenses with the SBC.
To accommodate an increase to the SBC in 2013, messengers approved a 3 percent decrease for most of the institutions and entities of the North Carolina convention. Exceptions included the Baptist Children's Homes and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, which will receive the same allocation as they did the year before. The 3 percent decrease did include North Carolina scholarship programs.
Messengers also approved a 2 percent cost of living increase for the convention staff. To offset the increase, convention team leaders will reduce program budgets by 3 to 5 percent for the upcoming year. The 2013 North Carolina Missions Offering goal and allocations remain unchanged from 2012.
Messengers were challenged to increase their churches' Cooperative Program giving by 1 percentage point.
Welch noted that since 2006 North Carolina Baptists have shifted a greater percentage of the budget to international missions, North American missions and to the six Southern Baptist seminaries, which includes Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
The budget allocation for the SBC has increased every year for the past seven years from 27.08 percent in 2006 to 35.5 percent in 2012.
During the same period, the budget allocation for North Carolina ministries has increased from 34.8 percent in 2006 to 39 percent in 2012, Welch reported.
The increase in funding for North Carolina ministries, he said, has allowed North Carolina Baptists to increase support for church planting in the state 90 percent from 2006 to 2012. As a result, in 2012 more than $1.5 million was allocated for church planting in North Carolina. Support for the Baptist Children's Homes also has been increased by 31 percent over the same period of time.
"But there is a problem," Welch said. "The Cooperative Program budget pie has been shrinking from 36.4 million in 2006 to 33.5 million in 2012 -- nearly 3 million less for ministry."
A 1 percent-of-budget Cooperative Program increase by all 4,300 Southern Baptist churches in the state would help solve the problem by providing $6 million per year in additional dollars for "Kingdom ministry." Welch said that would equate to an additional $3.9 million for N.C. ministries, and $2.1 million for the Southern Baptist Convention each year.
"Our state convention's church planting team could help start 26 more churches across North Carolina each year, helping to reach 5.6 million lost residents of our state with the message of the Gospel," Welch said.
"The Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina could provide for an additional 155 children who need to know of God's unfailing love."
Messengers approved a resolution calling for the pursuit of holiness. They voted down a proposed amendment to the resolution that called for churches to support their pastors in taking a stand against cohabitation before marriage.
To read the resolution, go to www.brnow.org/News/October-2012/Resolution-on-pursuit-of-holiness.
Messengers approved three recommendations from the BSC Board of Directors articles and bylaws committee to amend the convention's bylaws.
The first motion, presented by committee chairman Bartley Wooten, involved amendments to two sections of a bylaw that addressed qualifications of non-board members serving on special committees of the Board of Directors. The motion limited the service of non-board members to a single place of service.
The second motion involved changing the bylaws to reflect the title change of North Carolina Baptist Hospital's School of Pastoral Care to the Division of Faith and Health Ministries.
According to the amendment, the change will not impact the relationship between North Carolina Baptist Hospital and the convention.
The third approved motion was a series of proposed amendments that clarified inconsistencies involving the work of the Committee on Nominations. The amendment addresses how to handle situations involving individuals who are unable to complete a full term of service. To read the entire recommendation, go to www.brnow.org/News/October-2012/Summary-of-proposed-amendments-to-bylaws.
Messengers also approved amended and restated articles of incorporation and bylaws for the Biblical Recorder.
Gerald Hodges, chair of the Biblical Recorder's board of directors, explained that the purpose of the changes was to make the documents consistent with those of the Baptist State Convention, to bring them into line with North Carolina nonprofit corporation law, and to reconcile them with current day-to-day operations of the Biblical Recorder.
The three top leaders for the BSC were re-elected Nov. 13 to their respective posts for 2013 without opposition: president, Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte; first vice president, C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham; and second vice president, Timmy D. Blair Sr., pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist in Angier.
Next year's annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will be Nov. 11-12 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.
Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).