A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 3: The Gulfshore Decade : Frida
April 22 2005 by Eugene B. Hager

A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 3: The Gulfshore Decade : Friday, April 22, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005

A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 3: The Gulfshore Decade

By Eugene B. Hager

As the 1960's dawned, the Pioneer Era of Associational Missions in North Carolina was drawing to a close. It had begun in the 1940's when the first associational workers were called and began their work with no "How to..." manuals and often no office or equipment. And they were their own secretaries - doing all the writing, typing, mailing, etc. themselves. Many began their work using a corner in a room in their apartments or houses for office space. Sometimes a church would lend an unused Sunday School room to be used as an office. Perhaps someone would donate an old, used typewriter.

By 1960 most workers had better office space - usually in a generous church. The Eastern Association had purchased a home for their Missionary that had a utility building in the backyard. It matched the house and so was attractive, but small. It had been converted into an office. A telephone, mimeograph, and small file had been added as well as shelves for books, pamphlets, and other supplies. However, I recall visiting one missionary who had walled in part of his back porch to use for the associational office. The biggest advance was in associational work. The 30,000 Movement (goal to establish 30,000 new Southern Baptist churches and missions by 1964), a part of the Third Jubilee Advance, was underway. Convention-wide Simultaneous Revivals were planned for those years. Most associations wanted to be a part of this denominational emphasis. At the same time, many churches responded to the Sunday School Emphases of the 1950's ("Million More in `54," etc.) by improving and enlarging their Sunday Schools. Small churches moved from "class Sunday Schools" [often four classes: one for adults, one for older children and youth, one for younger children, and one for toddlers] to graded Sunday Schools [classes for each age group: Toddlers, Beginners (ages 4-5)), Primaries (ages 6-8), Juniors (ages 9-12), Intermediates (ages 13-16), Young People (17-24), Young Adults, and Older Adults.]

Larger churches established separate departments for each of these age groups with closely graded classes in each. All this meant a dire need for additional teachers and workers. And they needed to be trained.

Pastors and churches turned to their associational missionary to help with all of this. And if the association didn't have a missionary, there was talk about calling one. Associational Teacher Training Clinics were held. The missionary began keeping supplies of leaflets and other materials on hand to give to pastors and churches on Grading Sunday Schools, the Third Jubilee Advance, Evangelism, and Participating in Simultaneous Revivals. Many of us kept the printed materials most in demand in boxes that could easily be loaded in the trunks and back seats of our cars. A few years later, I was sharing a ride with John Privott (Associational Missionary in the North Roanoke Association) to Wilmington to help in a Sunday School Enlargement Campaign in that association. During our reminiscing about how associational work was changing, he remarked: "You know, I think that some of the best associational work I've done was out of the trunk of my car!"

Many associations by that time had missions committees (or their equivalent). Associational missionaries were learning to work with these committees and the pastors conferences to plan associational events a year and even two and three years in advance to meet the needs expressed by churches and their pastors. I sent out informal questionnaires to pastors and church leaders asking questions such as: What do you feel are the greatest needs in your church over the next few years? What can the association and I do to help you with these? What clinics or conferences would your church be most likely to participate in, if offered by the association? (Included was a list of possible events we could plan using assistance from State Convention Workers). Associations were coming alive with activities especially designed to help pastors and church leaders. Associational missionaries in North Carolina were excited with the announcement of a nationwide conference for associational missionaries to be held at Gulfshore, Mississippi in February 1963. We looked forward to the opportunity to fellowship with and share ideas with fellow workers from across the Convention. It would provide for in-depth discussions in small group settings of the various aspects of associational work. We were assured that there would be ample opportunity for two-way communication between associational workers and convention agencies. There was hope that we could address the issue as to whether the primary work of the associational missionary is to promote denominational agency programs or to respond to the needs and requests of the local churches in our associations. It was generally acknowledged that we needed to do some of both. But which was to receive our top priority?

The Conference on Associational Missions held at the Gulfshore Baptist Assembly, Pass Christian, Mississippi, February 11-15, 1963 was the first nationwide conference for associational missionaries ever held. It was "sponsored by the Home Missions Board in cooperation with other SBC agencies." (Cover page, Gulfshore Report). The stated purpose (inside cover, Gulfshore Report) reads:

The purpose of this Associational Missions Conference was to give superintendents of associational missions an opportunity to discuss the district association: its functions and work, its place in the life of the denomination, its correlation with denominational units (associations, state conventions and Southern Baptist Convention agencies), to the end that the churches may be provided the largest possible assistance in giving their maximum Christian witness. It was attended by 650 associational missionaries - 48 of them from North Carolina. In addition, there were leaders from the Home Missions Board and other SBC agencies. There were general sessions, but the main work was done by sixteen study groups with about 30-40 in each group. Each group had a Convener, a Recorder, a Researcher, and a Resource Chairman. We had been given the list of groups beforehand in order to indicate our top three choices. As nearly as possible we were assigned to the group of our first or second choice. (I was in Group 10.) The Study Groups were: [Note: if a group leader was from N. C., I will list that person's name] The Association Comprehending Its Mission The Association Organizing for Effective Work The Association Obtaining Maximum Help from Denominational Agencies Resource Chm.: E. R. Echerd, Jr. (Mecklenburg Assoc.) The Association Serving As a Unit of Southern Baptist Life The Association Magnifying the Ministries of the Churches Researcher: Hubert S. Mumford (Yates Assoc.) The Association Formulating Its Calendar of Activities The Association Planning Its Budget The Association Relating to SBC Agencies in the Projection of Their Programs and Ministries Convener: H. E. Walden (Robeson Assoc.) The Association Evaluating Its Effectiveness The Association Using Its Lay Leadership The Association Utilizing the Ministry of Its Missionary The Association Structuring a Program in the Light of Discovered Needs The Association's Place in Starting New Missions and Churches The Association Strengthening Weak Churches Researcher: Elizabeth Campbell (Caldwell Assoc.) The Association Advancing the Faith The Association Communicating and Publicizing Its Program Resource Chairman: John A. Moore (South Roanoke Assoc.) The ideas and issues covered at the Gulfshore Conference are too extensive to be fully discussed here. The Group Reports reflect some areas of disagreement on many issues. I would like to touch on one issue already mentioned earlier in this history: the role of the Associational Missionary and the Association in the promotion of an ever-increasing multitude of denominational agency programs and projects. Here is the first paragraph in the Conclusion of Group Eight's Report (Gulfshore Report, p. 65):

Since the role of the superintendent of missions is the program worked out by the association, he and the churches have the privilege of selecting the programs and ministries to be used in the association and the churches without censure from other denominational leaders.

And in Group Fifteen's Report we read (Gulfshore Report, p. 135):

Gradually, however, a change has come about. The tight organiza- tion of the Southern Baptist Convention, and its cooperating state bodies ... has enabled denominational leaders to assume an ever- increasing control of goings-on in the associations. Thus, our associations have taken on the image of organizations which exist primarily to get the denomination's business done on the local level .... Dr. Allen W. Graves, Dean of the School of Religious Education at Southern Seminary, Louisville, gave an address on Thursday morning entitled: The Association - Today and Tomorrow.

The discussion of this issue had caught his attention. In his address, he said (Gulfshore Report, p. 163):

As I have talked with many of you I have discovered that you feel considerable frustration and tension over the persistent needs of the churches and the communities served by your association and the multiplied efforts of denominational agencies to get your attention and your time to promote their particular denominational program.

Those from denominational agencies, keenly aware of the crucial importance of the association and the associational missionary, have been eager to secure your assistance and cooperation in the fulfillment of the assignments given by the Convention. And from p. 169:

What has been confusing to some associational missionaries, and to many churches, has been the assumption that every church must take everything that is offered by every agency. We have seen this communication flow as an assembly-like conveyor belt with an endless flow which everyone was expected to receive, accept and utilize. Perhaps we have come to the time when we can see that a more accurate pattern is to think of this as a cafeteria line offering a wide variety of very fine programs in a very attractive fashion from which each church and each church member can choose that which meets particular needs.

The role of the association and its leaders is to help the churches and their members to develop a keen sense of discrimination, a selective appetite, so that they may choose wisely from among the vast resources the denomination makes available. We must help the people to see that they have a choice. It isn't all or nothing at all! Help the man in the pew to realize that he doesn't have to take everything on the menu or run the risk of being called disloyal to the denomination or its program. This "cafeteria line" concept resonated strongly with the associational missionaries. We began using it in our associations and among ourselves. Some denominational agencies were a little slower in accepting this concept.

The Gulfshore Report, though produced over a few days and thus lacking some of the refinement that would have come if more time had been available, became a sort of 0manual on associational work. It was frequently referred to during the discussions at our summer conferences and other meetings. The Gulfshore experience brought new enthusiasm to our work. In many ways it was a milestone in our work as associational missionaries. Later, there would be other national convocations of associational missionaries. And they were good meetings. But there was only one Gulfshore!

In our 1962 summer conference, meeting at Mars Hill, the associational missionaries were divided into three groups. After each major presentation by a speaker, the groups met separately, discussed the subject, and then prepared a summation to be presented later at a "Report Session." This gave more individuals a chance to have input, and share ideas and experiences. The major presentations at the 1962 conference were: "The Missionary's Image" by Harold D. Gregory, Associational Missionary in the Nashville, Tennessee Association. "Church Problems and Splits" by Dr. Garland Hendricks, Professor of Church-Community Development at Southeastern Seminary. "Dealing with Pastors with Problems" by Dr. Hendricks. "Dealing with Pulpit Committees" by Dr. Hendricks. The next year at the Gulfshore Conference, there were sixteen study groups, each with its own assigned topic to research, discuss, and to be reported on in written form to the larger group. This format proved to be popular with our North Carolina missionaries.

At our 1963 summer conference at Caswell, there were five study groups with assigned topics: The Superintendent of Missions' Responsibility in the matter of pastoral referral. The Association Evaluating Its Effectiveness. Strengthening Weak Churches. The Association Developing an Adequate Budget. Finding and Training Associational Officers. In 1964 at Fruitland the study groups were: How to Plan Your Work as a Missionary. How to Work with Churches When the Pastor Is Uncooperative. (Also: When the Church Is Uncooperative.) Communicating Convention Programs to the Churches. (Also: Communicating the Needs of Churches to Convention Staffs and Agencies.) At Fruitland in 1965, Wendell Belew (Home Mission Board) led several discussions on "The Rediscovery of the Association." Dr. Donald Bell (Southwestern Seminary) likewise led several discussions on "Working with People and Churches." Note that during these years the programs addressed current needs and issues in the associations. Also, they dealt with improving the effectiveness of associational missionaries. But changes were coming. The mid-1960's saw a distinct turn toward the future.

The decade of the 1960's was a time of change and upheaval. The "space race" was on, with President Kennedy committing the United States to landing a man on the moon before the decade ended. Then came the tragedy of Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. Science and industry were making great strides. People were on the move to a degree not seen since the great westward movement in the Nineteenth Century. Associational leaders began looking toward the future and asking questions. The program for the 1966 summer conference had three panels leading discussions on: "Whither Associational Missions in Eastern North Carolina?" "Whither Associational Missions in Western North Carolina?" "Whither Associational Missions in Piedmont North Carolina?" On Friday morning E. C. Watson presented a paper entitled "Whither Associational Missions in North Carolina?" It was a summary of the past and present with predictions for the future.

In 1960 a number of associational leaders from the Wilmington, Atlantic, Eastern, and New South River associations met several times to study the possible realignment of associations in the area. Camp Lejeune and the Jacksonville area were growing rapidly. The Jacksonville area was near the boundaries of the Wilmington and Atlantic Associations. It was felt that in order to help churches minister to the growing needs of the area, an associational center was needed in the Jacksonville-Onslow County area. A new association could be formed with a nucleus of churches from the Wilmington, Atlantic, and Eastern Associations. There would also be new churches formed in that area of rapid growth. As a result, the New River Association, centered in Jacksonville, was formed. There was also talk about the Eastern Association shifting westward to include all of the churches in Sampson County while retaining those in the western half of Duplin County. This part of the realignment never did materialize because many of the churches that would have been involved did not agree to change.

Beginning in the late 1950's and continuing through the 1960's and beyond, military ministries became a very important part of the work of several associations. Fort Bragg was the largest military installation in North Carolina. It was located near Fayetteville in the New South River Association. Many of the soldiers there were new recruits (and thus single), receiving their basic training, and soon to be shipped out to places all over the world. Nevertheless, there were many career soldiers, officers, and others who were married and had families. Some had married while stationed overseas and thus there were many wives from other lands, cultures, and religions. Charles Stevens, the Associational Missionary, remarked that for years we had sent missionaries overseas to reach these people and now they were right here on our doorstep. On the front of the associational newsletter, he had a drawing of a doorstep with the world sitting on it. And a caption read: "The world on our doorstep!" The association and the churches recognized the need to reach and minister to three quite distinct groups: young, single recruits; married men with families; and wives from other lands, cultures, and religions.

Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville in the New River Association, though smaller than Fort Bragg, was similar. It had the same three distinct groups. E. J. Hines, the Associational Missionary, was interested in the association providing a place where off-duty marines could come for food and fellowship in a home-like atmosphere. It was manned by volunteers from the churches who were ready to witness, counsel, and minister as needed. Mrs. Toni Romaine, herself foreign-born, worked on the associational staff for many years to aid in this ministry - especially with those from other lands and cultures. The situation was a little different at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base at Goldsboro in the Neuse Association. It housed a Fighter Wing assigned to protect part of the East Coast of the U. S. It also had a B-59 Bomber Wing ready at a moment's notice to fly to any part of the world carrying hydrogen bombs with more explosive power than all the bombs used in World War II combined. The personnel were for the most part highly trained career men. They were married and had families. They needed to be ministered to as families. And those families needed ministry when husbands and fathers were out of the country (often with little prior notice) for months at a time. About 60% of the congregation at Adamsville (where this author was a member) was made up of Seymour-Johnson personnel and their families.

The Marine Air Station at Havelock in the Atlantic Association was probably similar to that at Seymour-Johnson. (I had less contact with the work there because it was farther away.) Since military ministries primarily involved only four of our associations, I will not take more space for them. Be assured that this work was very important and quite wide ranging. A book could be (and perhaps should be) written on it. Resort Ministries was another work that involved some, but not all, associations. Ministries to college students were important to those associations with colleges in their midst. The 1960's saw a growing use of slides and filmstrips in the churches and associations. Filmstrips quickly became the preferred choice. Associations began to build libraries of filmstrips on such things as Sunday School, Training Union, Evangelism, Stewardship, Home Missions, Foreign Missions, State Missions, and many others. This necessitated the purchase of projectors and screens. Schools of Missions and the Forward Program of Church Finance became important items on the associational agenda. It was announced that Dr. E. L. Spivey would be retiring at the end of 1966. There were many expressions of appreciation at our 1966 summer conference. Many of us attended his retirement banquet in Raleigh on December 6. John L. White (Missionary in the Gaston Association) wrote a Ballad of Lowell Spivey (sung to the tune of the Ballad of Davy Crockett), which we sang to him at the banquet. He was presented with a Book of Letters from the missionaries. And we joined with the State Convention Staff and other friends in presenting him a gift. Dr. Spivey had been a good friend with a listening ear to us. We were pleased to learn that Dr. Howard Ford would be his successor as Director of the Division of Missions.

At one of our Fruitland meetings (probably 1964 though it could have been the one in 1966), Dr. Spivey announced that he had arranged a special treat for our fellowship that evening. A truck would be on the assembly grounds with a load of watermelons and we would have an old-fashioned "watermelon slicing." It was such a big hit that it was repeated in subsequent years. Dr. Ford continued the tradition even after our meetings were moved from Fruitland to Wingate.

In the early days when the rooms at Fruitland contained four (or was it six?) bunk beds, the group had retired for the night. One of the fellows (whose name I do not know) was still talking about some of the things from the day's activities. After a long while, Lewis Ludlum said: "Brother -----, I have a project I'd like for you to work on." "What is it Brother Ludlum?" "Why don't you research the scriptures and write a paper on 'Why the Lord made the night!'" Later Ludlum said: " I don't know whether I offended him or not, but at least he quieted down and we all got some sleep!"

On another occasion I was among a group rooming with Lewis at Fruitland. Early in the morning we got up, dressed, and stood in line to shave at the one lavatory and mirror. All that is -- except Lewis. Someone said: "Lewis you had better be getting up or you'll miss breakfast." Lewis replied: "You fellows go ahead, I'll be up directly." As we were going out the door, I turned and reminded Lewis again that he might miss breakfast. He sat up on the edge of his bed and said: "Well, I figure it this way. You fellows wasted time standing in line to shave. Now, I'll get dressed and shave in a private room and still make it for breakfast!" Sure enough, as we were eating we saw Lewis come in dressed and shaved and get in the breakfast line. And by then the line was much shorter than when we were in it.

As the 1960's drew to a close, associational work in North Carolina had come a long way. It was well beyond the pioneering stage. Some associations were building their own offices, which would include a conference room and storage rooms for media and other supplies. (South Yadkin built theirs in 1966.) Many now had secretaries (though some were part time). And a few of the larger ones were adding additional staff members. Quite a few were acquiring more and better office machines (typewriters, addressing machines, folding machines, etc.). There were more conferences, seminars, and training events on the state and south-wide levels to help us keep up-to-date in our work and to be aware of the resources available to us. More was now being written about associational work in denominational publications. In a real sense, the association was being "rediscovered." Lewis Ludlum would probably have said that the associational missionaries now had a stronger awareness of their identity.


OFFICERS - 1960's

1960 - Officers [Meeting held at Caswell, July 4-7, 1960]

President - Hubert Mumford [Yates]

First V. President - Edwin A. Echerd [Mecklenburg]

Second V. President - Audley Frazier [Ashe-Alleghany]

Third V. President - Henry Walden, Jr. [Robeson]

Public Relations - Lewis E. Ludlum [Pilot Mountain]

Secretary-Treas. - Guthrie Colvard [Gaston]

Song Leader - Leland Royster [Mt. Zion]

1961 - Officers [Meeting held at Caswell, July 3-6, 1961]

President - Hubert Mumford [Yates]

First V. President - Leland Royster [Mt. Zion]

Second V. President - Julius Holloway [Little River]

Third V. President -

Public Relations - Grady Burgess [Yadkin]

Secretary-Treas. - Mrs. Margaret McRackan [Brunswick]

Song Leader - Ted Williams [Liberty]

1962 - Officers [Meeting held at Mars Hill, July2-6, 1962]

President - Ted W. Williams [Liberty]

First Vice President -

Second Vice President -

Third Vice President -

Public Relations -

Secretary-Tress. - Miss Helen Cater [Theron Rankin]

Song Leader -

1963 - Officers [Meeting held at Caswell, June 17-21, 1963]

President - E. V. Plemmons [Buncombe]

First Vice President - Henry Walden [Robeson]

Second Vice President - John Carter [Rowan]

Third Vice President - David Roberts [French Broad]

Public Relations - Eugene B. Hager [Eastern]

Secretary-Treas. - Audley Frazier [Ashe-Alleghany]

Pianist - John Wright [Brushy Mountain]

Music - Julius Holloway [Little River] 1964 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, June 8-12, 1964]

President - Robert L. Costner [Raleigh]

First Vice President - Clay Barnes [Carolina-Transylvania]

Second Vice President - Alvin Walker [South Fork]

Third Vice President - John Privott [North Roanoke]

Public Relations - Helen Cater [Theron Rankin]

Secretary-Treas. - Floyd Rhyne [Central]

Pianist - Leland Royster [Haywood]

Music Director - Luell Smith [Pilot Mountain]

1965 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 12-16, 1965]

President - E. C. Watson [New South River]

First Vice President - Henry E. Walden, Jr. [Robeson]

Second Vice President - Leland Royster [Haywood]

Third Vice President - Robert Harrell [Chowan]

Public Relations - Miss Elizabeth Campbell [Caldwell]

Secretary-Treas. - Frank Ingram [Anson]

Pianist - Alvin Walker [South Fork]

Chorister - Julius Holloway [Little River]

1966 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 18-22, 1966]

President - Henry E. Walden [Robeson]

First Vice President - Charles Stevens [New South River]

Second Vice President - Leonard Rollins [Liberty]

Third Vice President - Earl Pearson [Catawba River]

Secretary-Treas. - W. Ellis Pope [Three Forks]

Public Relations - Helen Cater [Theron Rankin]

Pianist - Alvin Walker [South Fork]

Chorister - Earl M. Pym [Anson]

1967 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, June 26-30, 1967]

President - Zeb Baker [Green River]

First Vice President - E. J. Hines [New River]

Second Vice President - R. T. Smith [Randolph]

Third Vice President - Alton Hooper [Tuckaseigee]

Secretary-Treas. - John Carter [Rowan]

Pianist - Leland Royster [Haywood]

Chorister - Elmer Thomas [South Yadkin] 1968 - Officers [Meeting held at Caswell, July 8-12, 1968]

President - Floyd H. Rhyne [Central]

First Vice President - William H. Spradlin, Jr. [Wilmington]

Second Vice President - Clifton J. Dunevant [Stanly]

Third Vice President - Fred B. Lunsford [West Liberty-Western N.C.]

Secretary-Treas. - Lewis E. Ludlum [Pilot Mountain]

Pianist - John R. Wright [Brush Mountain]

Chorister - Raymond Moore [Johnston]

Public Relations - Mrs. Ruth Prince [Bladen]

1969 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 7-11, 1969]

President - Hassell Lamm [Beulah]

First Vice President - H. A. Privette [Atlantic]

Second Vice President - Elmer Thomas [South Yadkin]

Third Vice President - W. Van Carroll [Sandy Run]

Secretary-Treas. - Helen Cater [Theron Rankin]

Pianist - Ruth Prince [Bladen]

Chorister - S. Lawrence Childs, Jr. [Pilot Mountain]

Public Relations - Eugene B. Hager [Neuse]

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