The Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) met Oct. 8 in Columbia to conduct business and report on special projects. Board members met that morning in subcommittees, then convened for further business and reporting during the afternoon session led by Chair Zack Little.
Budget, Finance & Audit (BF&A) Committee Chair Teresa Garrick presented details of the proposed $28 million Cooperative Program Budget/Advance Plan. Garrett acknowledged that while giving has declined – it’s currently two percent behind giving this time last year – the proposed budget was in line with those of the previous four years. The board unanimously approved the budget.
Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, SCBC Executive Director-Treasurer, began his report by sharing Apostle Paul’s message in 2 Corinthians 11:28 which details Paul’s persecution experiences followed immediately by voicing his daily concern for “all the churches.”
“While I’ve never been in a shipwreck or lashed with a rod, I can assure you that we at the South Carolina Baptist Convention have a deep concern for our churches,” Hollingsworth said.
He continued by sharing opportunities South Carolina Baptist churches have through the lenses of both concern and hope. Decline in the number of next generation baptisms and decreased missions support were examples Hollingsworth used that cause him “deep concern.” By contrast he celebrated the 600 South Carolina Baptist churches that increased in baptisms last year and board members applauded hearing that 11,583 total people were baptized. Hollingsworth shared that new partnerships and an increase in Janie Chapman offerings are other sources of hope for the state.
“We do see a day where every life will be saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel, beginning in South Carolina and extending to the ends of the earth,” Hollingsworth said.
In other news, SCBC Associate Executive Director and Chief Strategist Jay Hardwick shared ADVANCE resource and Strategy updates with board members. A new women’s ministry resource developed to minister to victims of sexual abuse is now available. “Responding Well: A Guide for Women’s Ministry Leaders to Help Survivors of Sexual Abuse” is a free biblically based resource offering practical advice on supporting and caring for victims.
Citing that the ADVANCE strategy is the “answer to the question of how do we organize and align our work so that we can best help churches to fulfill the Great Commission,” Hardwick said that convention staff operates to assist churches in accomplishing the Great Commission. He announced the newly created SERVE team which will be led by Jon Jamison, former SCBC Compassion Ministry strategist.
In keeping with the vision of helping churches fulfill the Great Commission, the SERVE Team will focus on community engagement ministries that will create new connections in which the hope of the gospel can be shared. These ministries include Heart 4 Schools, Disaster Relief, Hunger, ESL, Orphan Care, and Poverty and Benevolence Ministries.
“We desire to equip more churches to meaningfully serve communities in fresh ways to make long-term impact in people’s lives and communities so meaningfully that even lost people would recognize it,” Hardwick said.
He went on to share additional news from the Priority Advancement Committee regarding the convention’s pledge to align resources and ministries to equip leaders and churches to progress in ADVANCE, in order to fulfill the Great Commission. Hardwick introduced the board to terminology used to explain three levels of this progression, from large group experiences to small cohorts:
Level 1 – Experiences aimed to inspire (such as the Annual Meeting, Impact, Solemn Assembly Gathering), with a “come and see” approach that leads to;
Level 2 – Labs that inform. These mid-size gatherings specifically focus on certain disciplines that continue progression; and then,
Level 3 – A cohort that implements. These groups of people then “go and do.”
Hardwick reported that the SCBC Evangelism team is currently piloting this progression with three churches that have committed to a 12-month process involving coaching and investing resources in order to increase their impact with evangelism and baptisms. He asked board members to urge churches to participate in ACP, the convention’s statistical collection that helps to measure ministry progress and effectiveness.
“It all comes down to the fact that we fundamentally believe that any church, any size, anywhere can ADVANCE,” Hardwick said.
Board members heard an additional report from Ron Henderson, chair of the Priority Advancement Committee, which affirmed to expand the Hunger Relief Fund Distribution Policy to include a new category of Development. Recognizing that offering food alone will not create long term change, the Development category will focus on long-term, sustainable solutions intended to end chronic hunger. Those solutions will be varied, but will include development opportunities such as job skills, after-school tutoring and support groups.
The Kingdom Advancement Committee Chair Eddie Bolin reported subcommittees’ work highlighting associational partnerships, investing in pastoral leaders so that they can implement the ADVANCE strategy, Cooperative Program resources available to churches and updates on prayer and student ministries.
A new South Carolina partnership opportunity with East Asia through the International Mission Board (IMB) was proposed by Ken Owens, SCBC missions mobilization team leader. The partnership would make South Carolina the first state convention to partner to specifically reach this region with an estimated 1.7 billion people from 198 unreached people groups living there. Owens noted that, of the 500 IMB personnel currently leading efforts to reach this affinity, 41 are from South Carolina.
“God has created a beautiful and diverse world, filled with a lot of people. Some of these people live in places where they’ve never heard of Jesus. Can you imagine your families going centuries or generations without knowing the good news of Jesus,” Owens said.
Bolin made a motion on behalf of the Kingdom Advancement Committee to adopt a five-year mission partnership between the South Carolina Baptist Convention and the East Asia affinity group of the IMB. The board adopted the motion. The formalization will occur with the signing of a partnership agreement at the 2019 Annual Meeting.
Garrett reported additional work of the BF&A Committee, including bringing a motion before the board that executive officers be allowed to pursue the sale of roughly 600 acres of undeveloped property at White Oak Conference Center (WOCC). An existing ad hoc committee charged with allocating the funds from the future sale of WOCC would also assume the responsibility of allocating any money obtained through the sale of the undeveloped property. Board members voted to approve the motion.
The board then heard an update on the sale of the WOCC property, which has returned to the market for sale. The previous buyer was unable to secure funding for the purchase and the lease contract expired.
During his report for the Operations Committee, Chair Jamie Duncan fielded discussions about monies allocated for proposed renovations at WOCC. Maintenance is required to make the facilities usable for the coming year and includes water heater and storm damage repairs. Duncan told the board that funds are also allocated in the next year’s budget for safety-related upkeep.
Annual Meeting President Bryant Sims reminded the board of important schedule changes to the 2019 meeting held Nov. 11-12 at the Church at the Mill in Moore. The meeting starts Monday evening and concludes Tuesday evening. Under the theme Engage, Sims says a highlight of this year’s meeting will include students during the Tuesday night session. For more online information about the Annual Meeting visit www.scbaptist.org/engage2019.
Toward the conclusion of the meeting SCBC Prayer Director Katie Whitaker invited board members to attend Restoration, a Solemn Assembly Gathering slated for Jan. 28, 2020, at First Church Columbia. Led by Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, the prayer conference will include worship and is targeted to pastors and church ministry leadership.
“We have this opportunity to go to the throne of the almighty God through prayer. This conference will be something that you’ll go away from feeling changed,” Whitaker says.
The Executive Board will convene again Dec. 12, in Columbia.