Board creates committee to find N.C. way
    September 29 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    After the Baptist State Convention (BSC) board of directors determined it was not feasible to alter the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), members approved a special vision fulfillment committee to discern and affirm a North Carolina Baptist approach to fulfilling Great Commission mandates.

    Meeting Sept. 28 at Fort Caswell Assembly the board also approved a BSC health insurance plan to control costs for employees and retirees; approved a new missions partnership with Moldova; approved the $32,685,480 budget recommended earlier by the Executive Committee; recommended several amendments to articles of incorporation and bylaws; approved a 2011 North Carolina Missions Offering goal of $2.1 million, the same goal as 2010, and permitted Caraway Conference Center to solicit churches in February for its capital campaign.

    BR photo by Norman Jameson

    Baptist State Convention leadership evaluates essential agenda items during Sept. 28 board meeting at Fort Caswell as bad weather approaches. From left, Brian Davis, Milton Hollifield, Bobby Blanton, John Butler, and Convention attorney John Small.

    Board members crammed a day and a half meeting into one long day, ending at 10 p.m., to be able to leave Fort Caswell early the next morning ahead of another swell of rain that dropped 10 inches on Wilmington the day before and had closed roads around the coastal city.  

    NCMO findings
    North Carolina Baptist churches will keep receiving a statewide North Carolina Missions Offering that supports N.C. Baptist Men and church planting after a study showed it “simply not feasible, nor in our best interests” to eliminate the offering, according to Board President Bobby Blanton.

    Blanton had appointed a study committee in response to a May motion from board member Austin Rammell to “examine the feasibility” of moving Baptist Men and church planting into the Cooperative Program budget to reflect the priorities Baptists claim. In exchange, Rammell’s motion suggested moving “non-priority” items out of the budget and into a new special offering.

    Blanton named to the committee officers of the Convention and of the board, several executive committee members and one member at large.

    The committee held an invitation-only listening session Sept. 2 at the Summit Church in Durham, inviting a group designated by Rammell. Seven attended.

    Although the committee determined “it was not feasible” to affirm Rammell’s motion “without doing harm to the ministries the NCMO was intended to support,” the committee also felt the exercise was valuable and “we need to continue to listen to all voices across this state,” Blanton said.

    So at the board meeting, Blanton proposed a committee that would gather input from Baptists of “partner churches” across the state.

    Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Mooresville, repeatedly maintained North Carolina Baptists are a diverse group and said, “the time is right” to invite the input of all North Carolina Baptists to determine with Executive Director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. how best to discern, affirm and fund North Carolina Baptist efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.

    The Executive Committee endorsed the idea fairly easily but it nearly ran aground later that evening when the full board considered it.  It almost disintegrated into generational tensions when Alan Smith of Lake Wylie Baptist Church implied that such an effort gives too much influence to young pastors.

    Smith said avenues for input already are in place and, “It’s a sign of weakness to cater to a generation that always wants its way immediately.”

    “It’s a selfish generation,” Smith said. The “more mature, older” leaders “need to hold the standard” and not “allow a few people to dictate to us how the structure should function.”

    Blanton said it is “no secret” that the seven persons in the listening session related to the NCMO discussion were “next generation pastors.” He said Baptist seminaries are training the next generation that “like it or not” will be leading the Convention.

    BR photo by Norman Jameson

    Bobby Blanton, left, explains the board's response to earlier motion by Austin Rammell that would have moved North Carolina Mission Offering priorities into the Cooperative Program budget.

    “But there are other voices in the Convention that would disagree with those voices,” Blanton said. The listening sessions and study committee will be an effort to be sure all voices have input.

    In discussion the new committee’s focus was clearly directed toward the vision Hollifield has published in his “Seven Pillars for Ministry,” which outlines the areas of emphasis he feels will help North Carolina Baptists “become the strongest force in the history of this convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel.”

    Aaron Wallace, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church, said the purpose of a vision fulfillment committee would not be to present a blank slate and ask, “What do you think we should be doing?”

    Instead, he said, “We believe Milton has given us a great vision in the seven pillars” and input from N.C. Baptists would be to “hear if we’re carrying these out in the most effective way.”

    The “Seven Pillars” are: practice fervent prayer; promote evangelism and church growth; strengthen existing churches; plant new multiplication churches; increase work with the international community; escalate technology improvements and upgrade the web site; and  reclaim the younger generation of church leaders.

    Bill Gay felt too many questions remained and asked for a decision to be tabled until the January board meeting. His request required a two-thirds majority and it barely failed 38-20.

    Blanton will appoint seven members of the vision fulfillment committee in consultation with the Baptist State Convention president to be elected in November. Current President Ed Yount, pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, is the only announced candidate.

    Five other members will be officers of the Baptist State Convention and the president and vice president of the board. The committee will begin work in January 2011 to study “partner churches” perceptions of the North Carolina Convention’s effectiveness in funding and implementing our vision, namely the seven pillars for ministry,” Blanton said in his proposal.

    The vision committee is to report its findings to the BSC Executive Committee in August 2011 and to the full board in September 2011.  

    Not GCR task force
    “This is not a Great Commission Resurgence task force, but a study of how North Carolina Baptists can craft a model that suits us,” said Blanton.

    Three other state conventions — Kentucky, Florida and Nevada — will consider their own GCR task force recommendations in November that will dramatically alter state convention ministries if approved.

    Seven Pillars for Ministry is available through the Baptist State Convention and here (pdf).

    “It is extremely important to reach under reached peoples of the world, and it is equally important to reach those in the area where God has placed us to serve,” Hollifield said.

    “The heart of the issue is let’s measure our effectiveness,” said Wallace, also a member of the Rammell motion study committee. 

    Rather than be reactive to “all the things floating out there” Wallace said the board should be proactive and tie the Convention’s priorities to Hollifield’s seven pillars.

    Hollifield said the vision fulfillment committee’s work would “help answer questions” about whether N.C. Baptist church leaders are satisfied with how the Convention is using mission gifts from churches.

    “It’s an opportunity to hear more voices and to consider the effectiveness of what we’re doing,” said Hollifield, who declared his support for the committee. He said he’s been evaluating that very thing “for years” and “great things are happening.”

    “But this is an opportunity for us to again give North Carolina Baptists’ input for vision and direction on where we’re moving as a Convention,” he said.

    In the Executive Committee meeting David Richardson of First Creedmoor Baptist Church thought the committee is a “wise move” because his church is typical of many, he said, that feel “very detached from what the Convention is doing.”

    “Churches have felt out of the loop forever,” said Joe Denson. “Anything we can do to bring people on board is a perfect excuse for doing it.”

    “The purpose of all this is to settle on what we feel are the unique opportunities of this state,” Blanton said. “We want as much as possible to be inclusive to all those voices … because this is a very diverse state.”  

    Moldova partnership
    The board approved initiating a partnership with Moldova Baptists through the new BSC office of Great Commission partnerships.

    Executive Leader for Church Planting and Missions Development Chuck Register, Boone optometrist Jeff Sutton and Sutton’s pastor Allan Blume conducted a vision trip to Moldova where they met with pastors of the Baptist unions there and with International Mission Board representatives.

    Blume is pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, which already is traveling to Moldova and Sutton has been going there about 10 years.

    Moldova borders Ukraine and has little evangelical witness, although it is not “unreached” by IMB definitions.

    Moldovan Baptists send missionaries, too, primarily to Eastern Europe where they minister among Muslims, a group they can gain access to more easily than can Americans.

    “Moldova is one of the most open countries in the world,” said Blume, who has traveled extensively. He said no special visas are required and “the people are open and hungry for leadership.”

    “This is the best opportunity I’ve seen in my life to capitalize on hunger and openness to share Christ,” he said.

    Several immediate moves for North Carolina Baptists will be to host in Moldova a nationwide pastors’ conference; to conduct an evangelistic outreach in each of the 33 districts, utilizing at least one North Carolina church in each; to host a discipleship conference and to conduct a spiritual retreat for Moldovan missionaries.  

    Other actions
    When Blue Cross Blue Shield announced a 20 percent increase for BSC health insurance premiums, BSC Executive Leader for Business Services John Butler proposed an alternate plan which the Executive Committee approved. It will hold down costs both for the Convention and employees.

    Butler asked the Recorder to refrain from carrying the details of the plan until it could be shared with employees Oct. 12. Look for details later.

    Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws amendments consist primarily of cleaning up the massive changes of the past two years for consistency and punctuation. Two amendments add flexibility for the Convention to notify churches about issues messengers will deal with at annual meetings by allowing notification to churches by mail, through the Biblical Recorder print edition, the Biblical Recorder website and the Convention’s website.

    Caraway Conference Center is preparing for a multi-million dollar campaign for upgrades at the mid-state site. A campaign committee is at work and it received permission to solicit church contributions in a one-time effort in February.

    The board approved the 2011 budget of $32,685,480 to present to messengers in November. It is a $2.1 million below the 2010 budget and $6.6 million below the 2009 budget. Gifts through Sept. 17 are $1.9 million or 8 percent below 2009 income.

    The 2011 budget includes the sixth straight one-half percentage point increase to ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention, bringing the Cooperative Program division to 65/35 between the BSC and SBC.

    Dennis Harrell, retired pastor from Lumberton, was named to fulfill the unexpired term of JoAnn Sanderson on the Biblical Recorder board. Sanderson resigned to devote time to national and international mission trips.
    9/29/2010 8:58:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 5 comments

Gene Scarborough
I think you picture of the 2 men talking is quite symbolic:

Older guy with shining head proving he is already bald /

Younger guy with head shaved--pretending to be bald

Maybe our problem is not enough smiling and jealousy over a balk head--sorry, I'm a little giddy after all thie rain on the coast!!!!
10/1/2010 3:57:38 PM

Cameron McGill
I believe it would be greatly beneficial to print the various responses to Alan Smith's divisive comments so to allow the readers to know that the "next generation" pastors had a voice during the Board meeting. Thanks for your reporting>>> Job Well Done!
10/1/2010 1:42:52 PM

Jack Carver
Alan Smith's attitude is all too prevalent when an older generation feels it is losing its leadership clout. We are faced with an emerging young leadership that wants to take the reins while they are still young and an aging, entrenched leadership that wants to hang on to the reins of leadership just a little bit longer. The dialogue sounds similar to what we're hearing in many of our churches these days. By the way, whether it is a few youngsters having their way or a few mature, older leaders calling the shots, a lot of people are still left out of the process.
9/30/2010 4:31:51 PM

Jack Wolford
If the other State Conventions get on board, this could be the start of a solution long needed and will create a new solidarity among Baptists as we suffer together.
9/30/2010 11:26:48 AM

Brent Hobbs
I'm glad to hear about the vision committee. I think there is significant desire to see the BSC take some steps for greater effectiveness. I hope some of those ideas can be discussed productively and without divisiveness in the coming months.
9/29/2010 11:19:05 PM

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