SCBC Executive Board called to UNITE around four priorities at Spring meeting

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Along with new, approved governance for its restructuring that line up its teams with convention staff assignments, the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) Executive Board heard stirring reports about evangelistic and missional opportunities in the state and beyond and heard how 2017 annual meeting messengers would focus an entire afternoon on missional work in the Columbia area.

The Executive Board met at the convention building, in Columbia, for its regular spring meeting, Monday-Tuesday, April 24-25. John Goudelock, associate pastor, Living Water Baptist Church, Longs, SC is the 2017 board chairman.

Tuesday’s meeting closed with a one-hour presentation that included the SCBC executive director-treasurer Gary Hollingsworth; associate executive director and chief strategist Mark A; and, convention president Keith Shorter, all talking about SCBC work and opportunities in the state and beyond. Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church, Easley.

Hollingsworth shared from his recent mission trip to Boston, where he joined Shorter and other SCBC leaders in visiting church planters. He also reported that more than 100 SCBC churches are now in partnership with local public schools, and that churches are mobilizing to pray for communities using a newly licensed Website called www.blesseveryhome.com. He reported more than 100 leaders recently participated in the Immersion conference, a two-day experience to equip disciple-makers; and, that Baptist Collegiate Ministry is mobilizing for prayer and is seeing more and more students join on campuses. The Francis Marion University BCM recently received the school’s organization of the year award.

Hollingsworth also commended church planting efforts, pointing to Cross Community Church in Beaufort which opened with more than 300 on its first Sunday and has reported several salvations. More and more churches are also looking to replant, turning upward from plateaued and declining environments.

Mark A. challenged board members to know that of the world’s population, 75 percent have no relationship with Jesus, and 33 percent have never heard of Jesus. He further pointed out that one of every twelve people is believed to have a saving relationship with Jesus, while 25 percent may claim to be “Christian” or have a connection to Christianity but have no relationship with Jesus. Lastly, he pointed out that less than one percent of the population will cross some kind of barrier – language, cultural, ethnic – to tell someone else about Jesus.

He challenged board members to be leaders in thinking externally about lost people and serving the needs of lost people toward a goal of building relationships that allow the sharing of hope in Christ. He said this would lead to sending workers to the lost and to unreached people and places in the world, and that will lead to starting new churches among the lost.

Convention president Shorter urged board members to encourage pastors to be a part of a convention vision trip to support church planters in Boston, Cleveland, and in Southeast Asia.

Shorter also promoted the 2017 annual meeting theme, Unite, specifically calling attention to using Tuesday afternoon as a mission opportunity within the Columbia area, supporting church planters and the work of churches. He called on board members – and pastors throughout the state – to mobilize their people for this one-day mission trip in Columbia. The annual meeting will be Tuesday-Wednesday, November 7-8, 2017 at Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia. Shorter said he hopes for 1,000 South Carolina Baptists at work in Columbia on Tuesday afternoon and then gathering Tuesday evening to celebrate in worship together.

On Monday of the two-day board meeting, before its regular team (formerly committee) meetings, the full board met to approve the standing rules for its teams, working to advance the convention’s four priorities of Sending Missionaries, Starting Churches, Strengthening Churches, and Sharing Hope. The teams then met respectively with assigned, lateral SCBC staff members on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, teams reported for the first time to the full board. The Church Strengthening and the Priority Advancement teams each reported meeting with staff for prayer, orientation, and education.

The Operations Team – including the work of the board’s former Properties Committee – announced the purchase of a new copier for the SCBC Building; a focus on safety and security, including First Aid, at SCBC properties; a new ropes course and handrails along stairways at Camp McCall; and, improvements at Baptist Collegiate Ministry facilities.

The Budget, Finance & Audit (BF&A) Team reported that audits for the SCBC Executive Board ministries, Baptist Ministries for the Aging, Connie Maxwell Children’s Home, Baptist Courier, and North Greenville University were all returned as unmodified, meaning that information within the audits was, chairman Talmadge Tobias said, “materially correct and accurate, and that financial work was well-prepared and professionally administered.” The BF&A also approved funding for the property requests of the Operations Team. The BF&A did report that the current 2017 budget is operating about six percent under budget and that Cooperative Program receipts are behind the comparatively same time in 2016. Tobias said the 2018 budget would be prepared with a $500,000 reduction, from $28.5 million to $28 million, in mind. That announcement is to aid the convention’s partners, whose contribution is a set percentage of budget receipts. Knowing the SCBC 2018 budget goal will be $500,000 less than the 2017 budget will help partners in their own budget planning for 2018. The Executive Board finalizes its budget recommendation at the October meeting prior to formal presentation for approval by the messengers at the SCBC annual meeting.

The board also heard reports from Baptist Ministries for the Aging and Anderson University. Other convention partners will provide reports at board meetings in October and December.

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