Messenger Hear Reports from SCBC Staff; Approve 2018 Budget; Approve Five Resolutions
Tuesday Session Summary
Messengers to the Tuesday session of the 197th South Carolina Baptist Convention Annual Meeting at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia approved a $28 million budget for 2018; approved five resolutions; and, were presented with a variety of ministry and committee reports.
Talmadge Tobias, chair of the budget, finance & audit team, shared six recommendations coming from the board and messengers voted to approve all motions. The 2018 budget of $28 million, a $500,000 decrease from 2017, reflects an adjustment to more realistic budget trends in giving. Tobias added that the last time convention receipts equaled budget was in 2012, but that the convention has operated within budget due to wise management. Even with reductions, convention staff is committed to delivering high quality ministries and services.
The remaining budget recommendations included urging messengers to commend the Cooperative Program (CP) to churches as the most efficient and effective means to “mobilize churches and extend outreach,” and that additional giving should not be a substitute for CP giving. Tobias’ team also affirmed special offerings to benevolent institutions; made motions for when the convention executive director-treasurer is to report cumulative gifts by churches, and forward funds to the Southern Baptist Convention; and, how church staff related funding should be deposited through GuideStone.
In other news, Executive Board Chair John Goudelock, referred messengers to their Book of Reports to learn of the work of the board during the previous year, and through ministry partners across the state. He spoke to the new executive board structure which is designed to help members serve more efficiently within teams. Those teams are the Executive Advisory; Kingdom Advance; Priority Advance; Budget, Finance & Audit; and Operations.
Of special note, Goudelock updated messengers on progress made in the sale of White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro. Messengers previously voted to approve Executive Director-Treasurer Gary Hollingsworth to engage in discussions with potential buyers for the property. After months of negotiations, the convention has signed an intent to sell contract from an educational group interested in expanding in the Winnsboro area. The buyer would purchase the facility and related land, with the convention maintaining ownership of roughly 600 acres of land and timber. Goudelock says a wastewater treatment repair at the conference center cite, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million, is also being negotiated in the sale. The contract states that the convention and South Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union (SC WMU) would each contribute $400,000 toward the repair, with SC WMU having a vested interest because neighboring Camp La Vida also uses the treatment facility. The contract allows for all 2018 convention events already scheduled to be held at the conference center, and leaves the option open for future convention events beyond 2018. The board has signed the intent.
Messengers unanimously approved, and without discussion, resolutions presented by Committee Chair Ryan Pack. The 2017 resolutions included Appreciation for South Carolina disaster relief volunteers while affirming the continued policy of not charging for relief work and efforts, and working closely with federal, state, local and faith-based organizations to continue to provide assistance following disasters; Resolve to intentionally pray for revival and spiritual awakening among the churches and residents of South Carolina; Resolve to oppose the legalization of marijuana in South Carolina; Renouncement of Hatred; and, Appreciation for host church Shandon Baptist in Columbia.
Reports from Convention Staff
Messengers heard updates from Mark A, associate executive director/chief strategist on the convention staff, and a few members of his ministry team. He presented growth and decline projections for South Carolina to messengers, revealing the state to be the fifth fastest growing state in the country. “We are surrounded by people who are coming to us, which means we’re surrounded by opportunity because we’re surrounded by lostness. If we took 1,000 people from South Carolina, at least 700 would have no relationship with Christ. Every church has the capacity to reach the lost,” he says.
Steve Rohrlack, team leader for church strengthening and discipleship team, shared how his team is ready to assist churches with hands-on assistance to help members take the next step in ministry, with leader care, and helping churches propel into their communities to engage with the lost.
Lee Clamp, team leader for evangelism, gave updates on how his team has worked across the state through women’s ministry, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and evangelism. He said the one barrier to sharing the hope of the gospel is not having a relationship with someone far from God, as many believers can be surrounded only by other believers. “We believe if conversations go up, conversions will go up. God is on the move.”
Clamp introduced one of the 250,000 students reported to be on college campuses across South Carolina, Kyheem Webb, of Clinton College. Webb told messengers that just a few years ago he was a nonbeliever, who knew nothing of the gospel. “When I started going to BCM and learned about Christ, it helped me move and mature spiritually. As I grew, I spread the gospel to others that I had connections with and it helped them grow too,” he says.
Clamp added that, because of the investment of South Carolina Baptists, Webb is a Jesus-follower who is being sent to start new works. “If every Baptist took the great commission personally, prayed for three people far from God, cared for two and shared ongoing gospel conversation and shared with just one a year – we’d be done with the saturation of the gospel in SC in one decade – it’s not hard. Our business is about people,” Clamp says.
Messengers voted to approve three previously presented bylaw changes, presented by Committee Chair Tyler Caines. The changes are related to employment issues related to the convention staff. The committee presented a new consideration, related to all future annual meeting nominees being in agreement with the mission and vision of the state convention, Baptist Faith & Message, and CP giving.
Messengers approved the motion that Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Charleston be the host church for the next annual meeting on Nov. 13-14, 2018.
As part of the history committee report, Presenter Julie Warren said Josh Powell, pastor of Lake Murray Church in Lexington, is currently authoring a history of SCBC which will be published for the convention’s 200th anniversary in 2021.
There were 547 registered messengers and 58 visitors reported during the Tuesday morning session. No new business was introduced from the floor.
Gary Hollingsworth, EDT of the convention, addressed messengers on his second year of ministry in South Carolina. “We want to reach the 3.6 million lost people in South Carolina, our initial mission in fulfilling the Great Commission given to us in scripture. Beyond that, we intend to share the gospel with the nations, and the rest of the world. We are looking forward to commissioning those going on mission trips in 2017. South Carolina Baptists desire to create a Great Commission culture in our state tied to our annual meeting theme of ‘Unite.’ As we think about uniting as a convention, it’s not just what we do once at a meeting or in an afternoon of serving in the name of Jesus during the ‘One Day’ mission project, it drives us back to our purpose of why we exist. We have one purpose, and the reason we exist, is to help churches fulfill the Great Commission. As your EDT, I haven’t come with a desire of success, but to see all of our churches involved in the Great Commission in the unique way that God has called them to.”
“God has given us a clear vision – to see every life saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel, beginning in South Carolina. Our mission statement begins with utilizing the essential catalysts of prayer and leadership, in order to help the church in South Carolina to multiply disciples to: Share Hope (Evangelism), Strengthen Churches (Discipleship), Start Churches (Church Planting), and Send Missionaries (Missions Mobilization).”
“The future of the South Carolina Baptist Convention will be determined by the extent to which we unite around our priorities and commit to cooperate to see them fulfilled.” Citing the messengers’ resolution about prayer, Hollingsworth linked the need for South Carolina Baptists to be united in prayer for revival and spiritual awakening, in spiritual leadership, and gospel partnership. “It is a spiritual commitment that the convention function as a missionary organization, discovering barriers to the gospel in order to better reach people. We are to model what Jesus did in his practical ministry, as we are planning to participate in ‘One Day’ Tuesday afternoon.”
The SCBC is committed in giving through the Cooperative Program, Janie Chapman, and SBC missions offerings, because the mission is so vital.
The convention will be committed to better communicating the stories of God at work in South Carolina and beyond. “In my work and that of the convention staff, I’m pledging that we will build relationships, provide research, resources, relevance, and responsiveness,” Hollingsworth says.
The Tuesday morning session was wrapped up by a One Day commissioning by Keith Shorter, Convention President.