N.C. Baptists highlight lostness
GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) -– North Carolina Baptists decreased their 2014 Cooperative Program budget, but increased the percentage they will send to the Southern Baptist Convention, and elected new officers during their 183rd annual meeting. They also learned more details about the convention's new strategy for impacting lostness and making disciples.
Building on the 2012 theme, "Awaken," messengers to the meeting were asked this year to "Arise," based on Isaiah 60:1-3.
"There is ... a passivity that God prefers to activity," said Steve Corts, senior pastor of Center Grove Baptist Church in Clemmons. "It's a passivity that comes from the realization that unless God goes first in a matter our going means nothing."
Corts, along with Larry Doyle, director of missions for Piedmont Baptist Association, spoke about the theme during the meeting.
A total of 1,899 people gathered Nov. 11-12 together at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The number of messengers was up from 1,605 in 2012 with a total of 1,648 messengers. The number of visitors this year was also slightly higher than 2012. There were 774 churches with registered messengers, an increase from 762 in 2012.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, presented a plaque to M.O. Owens for his ministry through the years. At age 100, Owens can still be found Sunday mornings preaching at his church, Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia, and Sunday evenings at his retirement home.
"I am grateful to have served Southern Baptist churches for 75 years and the privilege God has given me," Owens said. "God has been so good to me."
The last 10 years messengers have consistently approved increases to the Cooperative Program Mission Budget. The 2014 budget will be $30 million, a decrease of $3.5 million from the 2013 budget. It includes another one -half percent increase –- from 36 to 36.5 percent -- in CP receipts that will be sent to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, challenged messengers to return to the Gospel.
"Before we talk about what it's going to take to change America, what is it going to take to change you?" Luter said during the convention sermon. "The only hope for America is the Word of God."
Messengers also heard from Mark Harris, outgoing president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, and Hollifield, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention (BSC). Earlier this fall, Harris announced his run for the U.S. Senate.
"We are still not desperate enough to turn back," Harris said, referring to N.C. Baptist's sinful lives. "We will not come before the Lord and pray until we are really desperate."
Hollifield asked if North Carolina Baptists are being effective. With 5.8 million lost people in the state, Hollifield stressed the importance of the "Impacting Lostness" strategy developed by the BSC. "We must create a culture in our churches, and in our personal lives, that is focused on disciple-making," he said.
It was the first time since 2005 that two candidates for BSC president were nominated. There were also two nominees for second vice president.
With 1,082 ballots cast, 692 messengers gave 64 percent of the vote to C.J. Bordeaux, senior pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham. Bordeaux defeated Bobby Blanton, senior pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville. Bordeaux was serving as the first vice president and replaces Harris as president.
Blanton received 390 votes or 36 percent of the vote. Twenty-two ballots were unable to be counted. Greg Mathis, senior pastor from Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, nominated Blanton. Ed Yount, senior pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, nominated Bordeaux.
Timmy Blair Sr., senior pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, was the only candidate nominated for the office of first vice president. Messengers raised their ballots to approve his nomination. Stan Welch, pastor of West Asheville Baptist Church in Asheville, nominated Blair.
The second vice president office was decided by cast ballot. Scott Faw, senior pastor of Moon's Chapel Baptist Church in Siler City, nominated Marc Sanders, senior pastor of Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Bear Creek. Richard Hicks nominated Cameron McGill, pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church.
With 677 ballots cast, 381 messengers voted for McGill, who defeated Sanders by 85 votes. Twenty-three ballots were unable to be counted.
During the Board of Directors report messengers heard amendments to the convention's bylaws as well as to Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute's constitution. Fruitland is a ministry of the BSC. The BSC motions included changes addressing the new structure of the convention and changing the name of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute to Fruitland Baptist Bible College. Clarifications were also made related to voting at the annual meeting.
During miscellaneous business David Gasperson, pastor of Warsaw Baptist Church in Warsaw, asked for clarification about the convention's rural strategy.
"When a new baby is born the older siblings worry about where they stand in the family. It isn't encouraging when Mom says 'I'll fix dinner as soon as I feed the baby,'" Gasperson said.
He pledged rural churches' support of disaster relief and the "clarion call" to the cities in the state's eight population centers, but also asked the convention not to forget rural areas.
"In Warsaw and a thousand crossroads communities across North Carolina we face a number of challenges," he said, listing closing businesses and plants as well as farms that are now corporate-owned entities. "I would request to all of our entities that efforts be made to clarify on an ongoing basis how the rural mission is to be continued.
Both Hollifield and Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer, addressed Gasperson's concerns.
"I do not have any intention for us to neglect the rural areas of the state," Hollifield said. "My desire is that in the rural areas we will not only be working to continue reaching people in those rural areas but my hope is that people living in the rural areas will see the eight population centers as an area of missions."
Phil Addison, senior pastor of Stony Point Baptist Church and member of the Board of Directors, made a motion –- one that messengers approved -- to share about the Christian Action League's (CAL) financial shortfall. CAL is a non-profit organization that was formed by the BSC in 1937.
"The history of the Christian Action League of North Carolina begins with the Baptist State Convention," Addison said.
Addison said the Christian Action League had helped in his county with an alcohol referendum and had battled for more than 10 years to pass the marriage amendment. Currently the organization is facing funding problems that could cause it to suspend future efforts. "If they had not been here for the past 10 years we would definitely be in a different society than we're in now," he said. "If you think it's bad now try doing it without the Christian Action League being there on our behalf."
Convention committee reports
Albie Brice, chairman of the Historical Committee, presented the 2013 History Writing Contest award to Rick Blanton. Blanton was recognized for his book, "Saint Paul Baptist Church: A Living History," written about Saint Paul Baptist in Casar. The Committee on Resolutions and Memorials directed messengers to their program book for a list of individuals to whom the 2013 annual is dedicated. Prior to the annual meeting, the committee received no outside resolutions for consideration.
Next year's annual meeting is scheduled Nov. 10-11 at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.
Dianna L. Cagle is the production editor of the Biblical Recorder. Michael McEwen, BR content editor, and Melissa Lilley, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's communications coordinator, contributed to this story.