A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 4: Shaping the Seventies : Frid
April 22 2005 by Eugene B. Hager

A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 4: Shaping the Seventies : Friday, April 22, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005

A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 4: Shaping the Seventies

By Eugene B. Hager

The Seventies began in the midst of a dazzling array of scientific and technological accomplishments. On July 20, 1969, the first men set foot on the moon (Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin). Others followed with the sixth and final landing coming in December 1972. Pioneer 10 flew by Jupiter in December 1973 on a voyage that would take it out of the Solar System and toward the star Aldebaran. Weather and communication satellites were put in orbit. Nuclear plants were being built to provide cheaper electricity. New technology was everywhere. People who could remember the "horse and buggy days" were awestruck. It seemed as though there was no limit to what science and technology could do. There were many who simply did not believe that men had been to the moon. This author had an attorney (who had also served as a judge) confide that he did not believe that men had actually walked on the moon.

Predictions about things to come added to the aura of amazement. At the Southern Baptist Planning and Promotion Conference, held in Nashville, December 8-13, 1968, the theme was: "Planning for the Seventies" or "Shaping the Seventies." Dr. Edward B. Lindaman from the North American Rockwell Corporation (one of the major Space Program Contractors) spoke on Monday. He predicted breakthroughs expected in the next ten years. One was supersonic flight, which came about with the advent of the Concorde supersonic jet in 1976. During these heady times, I heard a power company official predict that in the near future homeowners would no longer need wires from their houses to utility poles and distant power plants. Instead the power company would lease, install, and maintain a small atomic-powered unit in each home that would provide all the electricity needed. Obviously, preachers are not the only ones whose prophecies do not always come to pass!

Church, associational, and denominational leaders were asking: how do we minister to people who will be living and working in such a technological world? Dialogue on this theme was incorporated into the program for our 1970 Summer Conference. As denominational leaders responded to the times the phrase "Shaping the Seventies" came into widespread use. Imagine the associational missionary looking at his old, unreliable mimeograph machine and wondering how he could compete amidst such technology. The need for more and better equipment was obvious. But what about the financial support that would be needed?

As far back as 1963 the Associational Missionaries Conference had begun to ask Convention agencies to help in promoting financial support for Associational Missions. After all, associations had been promoting giving to State Missions, Home Missions, Foreign Missions, and other Convention agencies for years. The response was a little slow in coming, but by the 1970's support for Associational Missions was being included in Stewardship promotion. It was also being written about in various denominational publications such as the Biblical Recorder, The Baptist Program, and the Home Missions Magazine. The phrase "Cooperative Program and Associational Missions" came into use.

At the 1970 Conference, Bill Goble presented a study on "The Association and Its Financial Program." He distributed a "Summary of Associational Survey Questionnaire," which noted that the office was still in the missionary's home in 16 of the 51 associations that responded. On page 9 we read this comment from one of those responding:

Everything else in Baptist affairs have numerous publications with circulation running into millions to interpret it to members. No Baptist program promoted only by sorry mimeographed bulletins can long survive in a competitive world like ours. It is folly to assume that proximity to the churches makes for easy and simple interpretations. We've about reached our financial peak with our limited concept of associational missions.

In 1973, Dr. Ford and Dr. Crouch proposed a plan for the General Board to help with the promotional expenses of the associational office (letter to associational missionaries dated June 11, 1973). After study and discussion, it was agreed that aid to the associations would be designated "for the associational budget" rather than as aid on the missionary's salary. The Convention would then be helping with the total associational program rather than just the missionary's salary. There would be other money available for special needs.

On Wednesday Fred Lunsford described to the group how two adjoining associations (the West Liberty and the Western North Carolina) had merged to become the new Truett Association. This would bring about a stronger ministry to the people and churches in the area. It combined the leadership, programs, and finances of two associations into one. We recognized the difficulty in leading associations (or churches) to merge no matter how obvious the need. There had been discussions of other such mergers from time to time, but this was the only instance in our memory that it had been accomplished. At the 1971 Conference, "...the President appointed a Committee to serve on a year's trial basis, with the task of fostering good communications between the Missionaries and the State Staff Members...." This committee soon came to be known as the "CAM" Committee (Convention-Associational Missionaries). A Progress Report was given at the 1972 Conference by a sub-committee consisting of Hubert Mumford, Chairman, Floyd Rhyne, Charles Stevens, and President Dan Page, ex officio. Dr. Nathan Brooks and Dr. Howard Ford represented the State Convention. In it the Chairman stated: "Our main purpose is to explore, with our state convention brethren, ways of strengthening our relationships as denominational co-workers....it is not a gripe session. I will have no part of that. We have had committees like this at least twice before, we need to go further than we did previously." Beginning in November the Committee had met in Raleigh each month (except April).

It had selected ten areas for investigation and discussion. These ranged from meeting the problem of "Independent" Baptist growth to the scheduling of dates, programs, and emphases on all levels. They also included communication (types, frequency, correlation), and annual associational meetings (format, the place of convention speakers, and reports). On the subject of communication, Missionaries complained that they were inundated by huge numbers of letters, leaflets, brochures, etc. from Convention personnel and agencies. Could some of these be combined, condensed, or less frequent? The problem at associational annual meetings was that the associations needed more time for business and reports from their growing ministries, while more and more convention staff and agencies were requesting a chance to present their causes. In the past, it was often possible to grant such speakers 20 or 30 minutes each. Now, many associations had trimmed it to four or five minutes each (or even less). Some associations were moving to a three-year rotation among agencies such as the Children's Homes, the Hospital, and the Homes for the Aging. Each would get more time, but only once every three years. A similar format applied to the colleges and the various departments in the Raleigh office. The Progress Report also listed 48 "Seed Thoughts" from their deliberations during the past year.

The Committee was extended for another year. The next year (1973) it was made a permanent committee of six, with three rotating off each year. In 1976 a constitutional amendment was adopted affirming the CAM Committee as a committee of six, but with two rotating off each year. The Committee dealt with many different issues brought to its attention. In 1974 it began work on a Code of Ethics for associational missionaries and convention staff working together in a courteous, Christian manner.

In 1974 many of us attended the National Convocation on Associational Missions held at Ridgecrest, May 6-10. It covered every aspect of Associational Missions: history of associations, theology of associationalism, the missions ministry of associations, relating to the churches and the denomination, and much more. The "Ridgecrest Statement" was adopted on the last day. It was a good, well-organized conference. However, as the reader may surmise, it covered much of the same ground that had been under study since about 1960, including the Gulf Shore Conference. Its main contribution was to give these matters a more in-depth study and "fine tuning." I considered my time well spent, but it did not have the excitement and impact of the Gulf Shore experience. A strong case could be made that it was needed for those who had become associational missionaries since the Gulf Shore Conference. For them it may have come close to duplicating that earlier experience.

The mid 1970's saw many changes affecting associational work. In 1976 Dr. Cecil Ray became the new General Secretary for the State Convention upon the retirement of Dr. Perry Crouch. Feeling that the associational missionaries needed to be better informed about the work of the General Board, he arranged for them to attend the General Board Meetings in 1977 as guests of the Board. This author found that opportunity to be both educational and helpful.

Dr. Ray announced a "Key Leadership Meeting" to be held at Ridgecrest in 1978. A number of key leaders from each association were invited to attend. It was "designed as a kick-off of the Bold Missions plans of church growth and mission support adopted in the 1977 Convention." It proved to be a fruitful meeting - with good attendance and much enthusiasm. Although we all came together in a few general sessions, most of the time was spent in group meetings led by the State Convention staff. The associational Sunday School Directors were led by the State Convention Sunday School Department, the Associational WMU Directors by the State WMU Staff, etc. It gave our associational leaders a chance to ask questions and enter into discussion with the State Convention Staff and also with their own peers from across the state. Before the Conference adjourned, we had one meeting by associations. It provided an opportunity for the leaders from each association to share what they had learned and discuss plans and possible projects for their own association for the coming year. Our leaders returned home inspired and enthused. The Key Leadership Conference became an annual event. We realized that it was one of the best things the Convention had ever done for our volunteer associational leaders. Many associations planned Key Leadership Conferences of their own for the key leaders in the churches. They were led by our associational leaders who had been to the Conference at Ridgecrest and were now better informed and highly motivated. At our 1976 Summer Conference, Dr. Ray gave an address entitled: "For Good or Bad, Something Is Happening to the Association!" It is changing! One of the changes he noted was the shift from promotion to missions. As we have already noted, this change had been underway in North Carolina for some time. Dr. Ray also discussed his dreams and plans for working with associational missionaries. The theme for our program in 1976 was: "On Mission in Our Own Setting." The December meeting, formerly referred to as the Planning Meeting, was called "The Mission Team." The topics presented and then discussed in small study groups reflected the concept of a team approach: How the Baptist State Convention Can Help the Associations:

In Total Program Planning - - - - - - - - - Hoyle Allred, Burrel Lucas

In Leadership Training - - - - - - - - - - - George Shore, Luther Osment

In Associational Finances - - - - - - - - - Talmage Williams, Howard Ford

How the Associations Can Help the Baptist State Convention:

In Total Program Planning - - - - - - - - - James McQuere, Nathan Brooks

In Leadership Training - - - - - - - - - - - John Hicks, R. Tom Greene

The Program also included a presentation by Dr. Cecil Ray on Bold Missions. Bold Missions was the goal adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention at its 1976 Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, to join with other evangelicals to reach the entire world with the gospel message by the year 2000. This would be done by whatever means available: witnessing, preaching, printed materials (tracts, scriptures, etc.), radio, and TV. All churches, associations, and conventions were urged to participate in as many ways as possible. Business travelers and tourists might be able to witness in countries where missionaries were not allowed. Some places could only be reached by radio broadcasts in their languages beamed in from the outside. There was much discussion and planning for participation in this effort in mission organizations, sermons, and denominational literature. Enthusiasm began to build through the late 1970's and well into the early 1980's before it was sidetracked by the "Convention Takeover" controversy that began in 1979 at the Convention Meeting in Houston.

At our Summer Conference for 1978 held at Wingate, a Retirement Reception was held for Dr. Howard Ford who had announced that he would be retiring at the end of the year. Dr. Ford was presented with an engraved watch and Mrs. Ford with a table. We held Dr. Ford in high esteem because of his words of encouragement and his sympathetic ear. In 1979 Sara Ann Hobbs became the new Director of the Division of Missions and George Shore became responsible for Associational Development. Both were already well known to us. Sara Ann had served as Director of the State WMU and George had served as an associational missionary before joining the Convention Staff. At our 1979 Summer Conference, Sara Ann brought a message in which she listed her two goals as State Missions Director: (1) To find the lost in North Carolina and find ways to witness to them; and (2) To find people in North Carolina in need of special ministry and find ways to minister to them. At this same Conference, Dr. Forrest Feezor led two sessions on "Prayer." Cleve Wilkie led three sessions on "The Gospel Preached." There was also a presentation on "Training for Directors of Missions" by J. C. Bradley from the Home Missions Board.

Printed copies of many (not all) of the presentations made at our meetings in the 1970's and 1980's were handed out. You may be able to find them in your associational files for those years. They will make interesting and worthwhile reading.

Here is an excerpt from a presentation this author made at our 1985 Conference. I include it here because it applies equally to the 1970's, 1980's and beyond:



By way of a phone call you learn that on the way home from the office, you are to stop and purchase: a small bag of flour, a box of salt, and a loaf of bread.

Across town in a shopping center five miles away is a large super market. It has a whole section with numerous brands of flour of varying sizes and prices. Furthermore, it has a whole shelf with a wide selection of salt. And bread? Oh, what wonders to behold (and smell)! All across town - five miles away.

But there is a small convenience store (Quick-Pic or Park-N-Shop) a couple of blocks down the street. The same street you take on your way home. Where will you stop to pick up the flour, the salt, and the bread?

Second Scenario:

Pastor Busy Bee has just received a request from a newly elected Adult Department Sunday School Director for a leaflet that lists the duties of Sunday School Officers. Now, there is a huge Sunday School Super Market in Nashville, Tennessee that has everything concerning Sunday School from A to Z.

On the other hand, there is a small denominational convenience shop, Deep Creek Baptist Association, just down the road. It doesn't have everything from A to Z about Sunday School. But it does have a few of the most frequently requested leaflets on Sunday School work. Where will Pastor Busy Bee go for the leaflets he needs? Of course, if Pastor Bee learns that Deep Creek Association seldom even stocks the bare essentials, he will soon stop going there. He just may do without.

D.O.M. as Resource Person:

One of the hats a Director of Missions needs to wear is that of a resource person. I estimate that at least one-half of the phone calls and visits by pastors and church leaders which I receive are for the purpose of obtaining information and/or resource materials....Even many of the communications from denominational agencies are requests for information or "feedback" (usually accompanied by a statement to the effect that the Director of Missions is the only person in a position to give the "feedback" which they seek).

This function as resource person requires so much expertise, time, and energy that it must be listed as a major component of the D.O.M.'s role. And it is inescapable since he cannot refuse requests for information and resource materials. In addition, it is often the door-opener to opportunities to minister and/or lead as a shepherd or mission strategist, or as leader of the associational body. The paper then goes on to list suggested resources in the Shop. Many associations were referring to their offices as "Resource Centers." We had come a long way from doing associational work "out of the trunk of the car." By the 1980's most associations had enough help in the office to take over much of the responsibility for handling the "Resource Center" materials. This freed up the missionary to devote more time to other matters. And there were other things already on the horizon: such as Long Range Planning, Mission Action Budgeting, and how associations could make good use of those new-fangled machines called "computers." Associational work has always demanded a lot of "on the job training."


OFFICERS - 1970's

1970 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 6-10, 1970]

President - Elizabeth Campbell [Caldwell]

First V. President - Bill Spradlin [Wilmington] [deceased Jan. 6, 1970]

Second V. President - Guthrie Colvard [Carolina]

Third V. President - Edward Laffman [Cullom]

Secretary-Treas. - Helen Cater [Theron Rankin]

Pianist - J. Henry Simpson [Eastern]

Song Leader - Elmer Thomas [South Yadkin]

Public Relations - Charles Stevens [New South River]

1971 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, June 28-July 2, 1971]

President - W. Frank Ingram [Mt. Zion]

First V. President - W. A. Duncan, Jr. [Piedmont]

Second V. President - Oren Bradley [Surry]

Third V. President - Tony Brewington [Burnt Swamp]

Secretary-Treas. - J. William Ross [New South River]

Chorister - Mrs. Ruth Prince [Bladen]

Pianist - Leland Royster [Haywood]

Public Relations - Lewis Ludlum [Pilot Mountain]

1972 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, June 26-30, 1972]

President - Daniel F. Page [Flat River]

First V. President - Michael T. Ray [Sandhills]

Second V. President - Fred B. Lunsford [Truett]

Third V. President - Eugene B. Hager [Neuse]

Secretary-Treas.-Otis Wheelhouse [Transylvania]

Music Director - Tony Brewington [Burnt Swamp]

Publicity - Ed Laffman [Cullom]

Historical - Lewis Ludlum [Pilot Mountain]

1973 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 23-27, 1973]

President - J. C. Shore [Yadkin] [Replacing Thurman Allred who had joined the SBC Staff in Nashville]

Second V. President - E. J. Hines [New River]

Third V. President - Walter Middleton [Tuckaseigee]

Secretary-Treas. - Leonard Rollins [Liberty]

Publicity - I. V. Couch [Brushy Mountain]

Historian - R. E. Moore [Johnston]

Music Director - Guthrie Colvard [Carolina]

1974 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 22-26, 1974]

President - E. J. Hines [New River]

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

Second V. President - Earl Pym [Anson]

Third V. President - Laura Mae Hilliard [Yancey]

Secretary-Treas. - Charles Burchette [Tar River]

Publicity - John Moore [South Roanoke]

Historian - Lewis Ludlum [Retired]

Music Director - Leland Royster [Haywood]

1975 - Officers [Meeting held at Fruitland, July 21-25, 1975]

President - Leland Royster [Haywood]

First V. President - A. R. Waisner [Brunswick]

Second V. President - William Goble [Catawba River]

Third V. President - Don Wilson [Three Forks]

Secretary-Treas. - I. V. Couch [Brushy Mountain]

Historian - Lewis Ludlum [Retired]

Public Relations - John A. Moore [South Roanoke]

Music Director - Lawrence Childs [Mecklenburg]

1976 - Officers [Meeting held at Wingate, July 19-23, 1976]

President - Talmage Williams [Green River]

First V. President - Paul Kesterson [Wilmington]

Second V. President - John A. Moore [South Roanoke]

Third V. President - Walter Middleton [Tuckaseigee]

Secretary-Treas. Robert Wainwright [Flat River]

Historian - Lewis Ludlum [Retired]

Public Relations - Oren Bradley [Surry]

Music Director - Charles Burchette [Tar River]

1977 - Officers [Meeting held at Caraway, July 18-22, 1977]

President - Ruth Prince [Bladen]

First V. President - Ellis Marks [Union]

Second V. President - Hugh Borders [Mitchell]

Third V. President - Ed. Laffman [Cullom]

Secretary-Treas. - Eugene Hager [Neuse]

Public Relations - J. D. Harrod [Central]

Music - Tony Brewington [Burnt Swamp]

Historian - Lewis Ludlum [Retired]

1978 - Officers [Meeting held at Wingate, June 26-30, 1978]

President - Charles Stevens [New South River]

First V. President - Oren Bradley [Surry]

Second V. President - Mabel Couch [Stone Mountain]

Third V. President - George Shore [Cabarrus]

Secretary-Treas. - Austin Lovin [Pee Dee]

Public Relations - Thurman Fox [Pilot Mountain]

Music - Roy Holder [Transylvania]

Historian - Lewis Ludlum [Retired]

1979 - Officers [Meeting held at Wingate, June 25-29, 1979]

President - Charles McMillan [Raleigh]

First V. President - Bill Ballou [Ashe]

Second V. President - Clifton Dunevant [Stanly]

Third V. President - A. R. Waisner [Brunswick]

Secretary-Treas. - Judson Rotan [Randolph]

Public Relations - Cline Borders [Kings Mountain]

Music - Ruth Prince [Bladen]

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