Executive Board Updated on WOCC Sale, Explores Advance
The Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) met April 23 in Columbia to conduct business and report on special projects. Board members met in morning subcommittees then convened for prayer, worship, further business and reporting during the afternoon session presided by Chairman Zack Little.
Board members were updated on the status of the sale of White Oak Conference Center (WOCC) in Winnsboro to The Midlands STEM Institute and Executive Director-Treasurer Gary Hollingsworth introduced the board to institute leadership. The Stem school signed a Contract to purchase White Oak in October 2017 and entered into a lease agreement in July 2018 for 12 months in order to begin classes onsite, while they are working on securing a USDA loan. Prior to the lease the Stem School invested over $900,000 in renovations to meet the requirements of the Office of School Facilities.
The board collectively prayed over the Midlands STEM Institute, the students and for God to work in all details of the sale process.
Reports and presentations to the board throughout the meeting included the convention’s stated vision, mission and strategy, reinforcing the unified nature of the work. The South Carolina Baptist Convention’s vision is to see every life saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel. The convention exists to serve churches and partner together for the purpose of the mission, which is to fulfill the Great Commission. The Advance strategy reflects how strong churches Serve, Share, Send and Start new work.
Four main priorities dictate the SCBC’s work with churches – church planting, church strengthening & discipleship, evangelism and missions mobilization. The Priority Advancement Committee is charged with understanding, engaging and advocating for those priority areas. The board heard the committee report of successes in these priority areas, barriers to kingdom Advances and key result areas and objectives.
SCBC Associate Executive-Director and Chief Strategist Jay Hardwick connected this existing work to the opportunities that are ahead for South Carolina Baptists.
“I am excited about what God is doing in South Carolina and for the opportunity to partner with churches to see the vision come to life that every life be saturated with the gospel. There’s no church in this state – or state convention – that could accomplish the vision by itself. The Advance strategy is the answer to the question of how we best align resources and staff to come alongside of churches to help fulfill the Great Commission. The centerpiece is strong churches,” he says.
Hardwick shared Advance-related reports including the plan for a church revitalization specialist to build a network of new pastors to assist plateaued and declining churches, mission partnerships and the launch of Multiplying Church Labs. The board heard that in the last year: 24 people prayed to receive Christ through the work of South Carolina Disaster Relief; 20,000 prisoner packets were delivered to state inmates; church partners are needed to meet public school requests through Heart4Schools; and, 18,000 homes are actively being prayed for by South Carolina Baptists committed to praying for their ‘One.’
“Any church of any size can advance in fulfilling the Great Commission. My prayer is that all 2,125 South Carolina Baptist churches will ask ‘what’s our next move in advancing,’” Hardwick says.
In his Executive Director-Treasurer report, Dr. Hollingsworth updated board members on staff changes and shared seven core values that guide the work of convention staff – spiritual vitality, authentic relationships, empowered teamwork, accountable integrity, innovative excellence, kingdom partnerships and global gospel advance.
“My prayer is that as a result of global gospel advance South Carolina will one day be the leading sending state in the Southern Baptist Convention. We want to send more people from South Carolina to the field,” Hollingsworth says.
Committee report highlights included Kingdom Advance subcommittees charged with engaging and advocating for ministries including the Cooperative Program, associations, Christian higher education, mission partnerships, prayer and leadership.
The Budget, Finance & Audit Committee and the Operations Committee brought a joint motion before the board proposing the sale of three surplus properties that were gifted to the convention. SCBC Chief Financial Officer Bryan Holley described the properties located in Salley, northern Greenville County and Marlboro County. The board unanimously approved the motion.
In other news, ministry partners shared updates including Todd Deaton, the new managing editor of The Baptist Courier, who greeted the board on behalf of Editor Rudy Gray. According to Dr. Gene Fant, president of North Greenville University, the institution’s mission to equip transformational mission leaders for society has resulted in a recent staff reorganization. Tom Turner, president and CEO of the South Carolina Baptist Ministries of the Aging, reported on plans for a nursing facility replacement at Bethea and an update on discussions to provide future services in the Midlands.
The executive board will reconvene Oct. 8 in Columbia.