NC Baptist board celebrates sending, service at spring meeting

OAK ISLAND, N.C. – The N.C. Baptist board of directors celebrated sending and serving during its regularly scheduled spring meeting held Monday and Tuesday, May 20-21, at the Fort Caswell Coastal Retreat and Conference Center.

The board also heard a number of ministry reports and took action on several business items during the meeting.

‘Culture of sending’

In his report to the board, N.C. Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker shared values and practices of sending churches from the Book of Acts. Unzicker focused his remarks Acts 13:1-3, which describes Barnabus, Saul and others being sent by the Holy Spirit to the nations and commissioned by the church at Antioch.

“This is the first recorded prolonged intentional sending of people to the nations for Christ,” Unzicker said.

Unzicker said a sending culture is demonstrated by churches that value sending capacity over seating capacity, emphasize that everyone is called and believe that the church is not an audience but an army. He added that those values should be emphasized through preaching, worship and giving.

Unzicker also highlighted recent increases in baptisms, missions giving, church planting efforts and more as examples of how N.C. Baptist churches demonstrate the values of sending that he described.

“N.C. Baptists have a culture of sending,” Unzicker said. 

Showing Jesus’ love through ‘ServeNC’ 

Unzicker also shared that more than 800 churches have signed up to participate in the upcoming “ServeNC” emphasis that encourages every N.C. Baptist church to serve its community through a variety of projects during the week of Aug. 3-10.

“What if we could tell the world a different story?” Unzicker said. “That thousands of churches are joining together in one week to demonstrate and declare the gospel in Jesus’ name.”

Board member Andrew Clark, pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., shared how his church has been working to bring churches and community partners together to learn about potential service opportunities. Those efforts are culminating with a “Serve NC” kick-off rally being held at Arran Lake Baptist Church on Thursday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. The event will include worship, evangelism training, community partners sharing needs that churches can help meet, and a ministry fair type of gathering for churches and community leaders to make connections for potential service opportunities.

“We wanted to make it abundantly clear that this was not an Arran Lake event but rather a Cumberland County event,” Clark said. “We just wanted to use the resources that God has blessed us with to help others engage our community. We know that we are truly better together.”

Clark said other events related to “ServeNC” are being hosted by other churches in the area. A training event for participating churches is planned for July, and a celebration event is planned for later in August after the week of service.

Clark said he hopes that sharing how churches are working together for “ServeNC” in his area will inspire other churches to do the same in other parts of the state.

“We are asking God to move in really big ways in Cumberland County,” Clark said. “It’s through things like this that we can show the love of Jesus to our community.”

Vacancies filled

In business matters, the board voted to fill a vacancy for second vice president of the state convention, and the board’s executive committee (EC) voted to fill other vacancies on the board, convention committees and other places of service, in accordance with state convention bylaws.

Steven Wade, lead pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, N.C., was unanimously elected by the board to serve as state convention second vice president. The office of second vice president became vacant in April when state convention president Quintell Hill accepted a position with the International Mission Board.

Upon Hill’s departure, first vice president Jason Miller became convention president, and second vice president Allen Murray became first vice president, based on policy set forth in state convention bylaws. The bylaws authorize the board to fill a vacancy in the office of second vice president.

The board’s executive committee also approved individuals to fill vacancies in other state convention leadership positions.

The executive committee approved recommendations from the Committee on Nominations for Gary Sanders, pastor of Red Bank Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown, N.C., to fill an unexpired term on the state convention’s board of directors, and for Robert “Bob” McKee Jr., a layperson from Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, N.C., to fill an unexpired term on the Biblical Recorder’s board of directors.

The executive committee also voted to approve Kristen Lanier, layperson at Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C., to fill an unexpired term on the Committee on Convention Meetings, which plans the state convention annual meeting each year.

In addition, the executive committee approved a motion for EC members Robert Hefner, Miller and Murray to serve on the nominating committee for Fruitland Baptist Bible College’s board of directors.

Financial updates

The board heard reports on the state convention’s year-to-date financials for 2024 and the audited financials for 2023. The audit report showed that the state convention finished 2023 in the black by more than $143,000.

The board approved a motion to accept the 2023 audited financials and to transfer 20% of the net operating income for 2023 to the state convention’s contingency reserves, in accordance with existing financial policies. The amount to be transferred to the contingency reserves totals $28,723.

In addition, board members were briefed on a more extensive review of the state convention’s financial policies and procedures which were deemed to “represent best practices of similar organizations.” The audit report made some policy recommendations in a few specific areas.

The executive committee also approved a new policy requiring convention staff members to report knowledge or suspicion of financial improprieties. The executive committee serves as the state convention’s personnel committee and is responsible for changes or updates to employee policies and procedures. 

For 2024, state convention officials reported that through the end of April, total Cooperative Program (CP) receipts totaled nearly $9.4 million, which is about 2% behind year-over-year totals and about 9.5% behind budget. Convention officials noted, however, that giving saw an uptick in April. At the end of March, CP receipts were about 8.4% behind year-over-year and approximately 15.4% behind budget.

Through the end of April, giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions totaled nearly $3.6 million, while giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions totaled more than $8.8 million. Giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering totaled more than $406,000.

State convention officials also said that efforts are underway to reach out to churches that have not contributed to the Cooperative Program in recent years since new measures were adopted by messengers in 2022 stipulating that criteria for being in friendly cooperation includes giving to CP at least once over a three-year period. Those efforts have resulted in 396 churches re-engaging with the state convention through CP giving, resulting in about $540,000 in new CP contributions.

Church cooperation updates

N.C. Baptist Director of Convention Relations Seth Brown also provided an update to the executive committee on two N.C. Baptist churches that were deemed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) executive committee not to be in friendly cooperation with the SBC during a vote in February.

Based on recommendations by the SBC Credentials Committee, the SBC executive committee deemed New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C., no longer in friendly cooperation due to egalitarian views of women in ministry and deemed  West Hendersonville Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C., not in friendly cooperation on matters related to handling of sexual abuse allegations.

Brown said West Hendersonville had “voluntarily withdrawn” from the state convention. West Hendersonville also voluntarily withdrew from its local association shortly after the decision by the SBC’s executive committee was announced.

Affiliation in Baptist life at the local, state and national levels are all voluntary and independent from one another.

Brown also said that he had reached out to leadership at New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia to begin a dialogue about its affiliation status.

Other business

In another policy update, the state convention’s executive committee voted on a new fleet vehicle policy that moves toward providing a vehicle allowance and mileage reimbursement instead of providing company vehicles for eligible staff members.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the N.C. Baptist board of directors is set for Sept. 23-24 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro, N.C.

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