General Board organizes, acts
January 31 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

General Board organizes, acts | Friday, Jan. 31, 2003

Friday, Jan. 31, 2003

General Board organizes, acts

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

The General Board of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) elected new leadership and acted on a variety of issues during its first meeting of the year, held Jan. 25-26 at Caraway Conference Center.

The board elected Leland Kerr as president and Randy White as vice president. Kerr is a former director of missions who is now a pastor, at Eastside Baptist Church in Shelby. White is a former pastor who is now a director of missions. He has served the New South River Association, surrounding the Fayetteville area since August.

Tom Crow, executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, nominated Kerr, calling him "a big man with a big heart who can lead us in a big way."

White was nominated by Jake Thornhill, pastor of Hunter Hills Baptist Church in Greensboro.

There were no other nominations. Kerr and White will serve only one year, since both are in the last year of their terms.

Kerr said in an interview that he considers himself a "middle-of-the-road Baptist." He said he considers himself a theological conservative, but is sympathetic with some causes typically espoused by moderates.

White, who previously served as pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Fayetteville, told the Recorder that he considers himself a "centrist conservative" with a "cooperative spirit."

"I believe you can be conservative without being obnoxious," he said.

At a meeting sponsored by Conservative Carolina Baptists in September 2001, White gave a devotion that compared the conservative cause to that of the people of Israel in Joshua 13. The people of Israel were challenged to possess the land, which implied a fight, he said.

"I'm not being vindictive," he said then. "I'm just saying this is a fight worth being in."

The General Board elected four persons from a slate of six nominees to serve as "at-large" members of the 21-member executive committee. They are Don Warren, a layman from Parkwood church in Gastonia; Doug Robinson, pastor of Cove Creek church in Sugar Grove; Wayne Hager, pastor of Calvary church in Mt. Airy; and Bob Evans, pastor of First church in Granite Falls. Nominations for the at large positions come from the floor. C.J. Bordeaux and Jake Thornhill were also nominated

The General Board approved a request from Chowan College to borrow additional funds, using endowment funds and other assets as collateral. Messengers to the BSC's annual session last November had approved a motion allowing the college to restructure an outstanding debt of about $3 million by pledging endowment funds as security.

The college needs to borrow up to $3 million more to meet its obligations through the summer, president Stanley Lott told the board. He expressed confidence that the amount would be sufficient to put the college on a sound footing. Lott said the college has instituted a number of cost-cutting measures, and expressed confidence that future revenues will be adequate to meet expenses and service the debt.

The issue was particularly thorny, since the BSC constitution and the college's documents both require the BSC's permission before the school can borrow money secured with college property or resources. Chowan's legal counsel expressed an opinion that the General Board could act for the convention on the matter, but attorneys close to the BSC declined to render a written opinion.

The executive committee recommended to the General Board a two-part motion in which the board granted approval for the loan, after declaring itself constitutionally empowered to make the decision, subject to a successful review by the BSC's constitution and bylaws committee.

The motion passed, but was reconsidered when concerns were raised about whether the constitution and bylaws committee - which has not yet been appointed - could act prior to a scheduled meeting between Chowan and the two banks, who have offered the loan, subject to its being secured by endowment funds.

After considerable discussion, the General Board voted to strike the requirement of review by the constitution and bylaws committee. The motion passed, with six or seven negative votes. About 80 General Board members were present.

The board also approved a resolution asking the state legislature to restore funding for prison chaplains, and to forego future cuts in the program. The action was a response to concerns expressed by messengers at the BSC meeting in November, and was prepared by the Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs.

In another response to messenger concerns, BSC President Jerry Pereira announced appointments to a committee to study ways in which the BSC and its churches can respond if cuts in the prison chaplaincy program continue.

The executive committee reported the formation of a committee to study the relationship between the BSC and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute. Fruitland now exists as an agency of the General Board. Though the school has a board of advisors, administrators report directly to the General Board through its executive committee.

School leaders have expressed an interest in exploring a possible shift from the General Board's governance to a direct relationship with the convention, with a board of trustees similar to those of the colleges.

An associational study committee appointed earlier by the executive committee made its final report, which was affirmed. The committee had been asked to study parameters by which the BSC might choose to enter or reject a relationship with churches wanting to form a new association. At present, there are no guidelines defining what the BSC should look for in relating to a new association. The committee floated a number of ideas during the year, but its final report contained no specific parameters for defining an association.

The report puts into writing the informal understanding currently employed, stating that "issues related to the starting of new associations will be referred to the associational development office (currently led by Lynn Sasser) for exploration and dialogue. If further action is indicated, the associational development director will make recommendations as needed."

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1/31/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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