An Open Letter From Dr. Gary Hollingsworth
The current COVID-19 pandemic crisis has forced a lot of changes in every person’s life. For those who have tested positive, it is more than a number on the data curve. For those who have family members or close friends die from the virus, life will never be the same.
In addition to the medical crisis, the financial strain is mounting as well. Here at the South Carolina Baptist Convention, our #1 concern is for our 2,100 churches and those who lead them. While our team is now working remotely, we are working. Efforts are being made every day to stay in touch with pastors and church leaders. Our team is working to stay informed and provide resources to help churches manage through the multiple changes everyone is facing. While much about HOW we do ministry is changing, the Vision, Mission and Purpose of our work has not, and will not, change! We believe some of the greatest Gospel sharing opportunities the church has ever had are before us, even in the midst of this situation.
Our team at the SCBC are keenly aware of all of these challenges and are committed to steward God’s resources in such a way as to make sure we stay laser focused on fulfilling our purpose of helping churches fulfill the Great Commission. We have already taken measures to dramatically reduce spending while continuing to be responsive to the needs of our churches. Many events and meetings are being held via video conferencing which has allowed us to maintain momentum but with significant financial savings. Our Executive Board meeting is scheduled for April 21 and our plans are to continue with the meeting but will do so remotely using technology. That is but one example of how cost saving measures being taken right now will help in the future.
Please pray for great wisdom, not only for our staff, but for members of our Budget, Finance and Audit Committee from the Executive Board as they make recommendations regarding the future. Regardless of what comes next, our firm conviction and commitment is to be the best stewards possible of the resources God has placed into our hands.
If there is a concern that might rival that of the health of our South Carolina Baptist churches it would be our IMB workers scattered around the globe. I and other state convention leaders are staying in close contact with our national SBC leaders and I know IMB President, Paul Chitwood, is greatly burdened for over 3,700 missionaries and their nearly 3,000 children who are living in remote, challenging and often unsecure places. That is why our continued Cooperative Program support is more critical now than perhaps it has ever been.
There is an old line most of us, including me, have used. It goes, it came to pass, it didn’t come to stay. This is true for the COVID-19 pandemic. It will pass and we will all be thankful. The real question will be, what long term changes will we all face due to the global nature of this pandemic. The good news is, regardless of how this changes our lives, our ministries and local churches, God will STILL be on His throne! His Word is unchanging, His character is unassailable and His promises are eternal! I love the words to this song:
Let the church be the church, let the people rejoice!
We’ve settled the question, we’ve made our choice.
Let the anthems ring out, songs of victory swell,
For the church triumphant is alive and well!
– Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, Executive Director-Treasurer