N.C. Baptists challenged to love, reach neighbors
A total of 1,425 messengers attended the meeting, which was held Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 5-6) at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C. The event's theme was "Who Is My Neighbor?" based on the question asked of Jesus in Luke 10:29 in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
$31M budget approved
Messengers approved a $31 million budget that designates 41.5 percent ($12.87 million) to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program. Although the overall budget total remained flat from 2018, messengers increased the percentage allocated to the SBC by 0.5 percent ($110,000).
The budget proposal presented to messengers on behalf of the BSCNC's Board of Directors initially called for a 0.35 increase to the state convention's SBC allocation. To accommodate the rise in SBC allocation, three of the convention's institutions and agencies -- the Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina, the N.C. Baptist Foundation, and N.C. Baptist Hospital -- in addition to some state convention ministries, received funding decreases.
During the budget presentation and discussion, Clay Warf, a messenger from Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., and executive director of the N.C. Baptist Foundation, made a motion to amend the proposed budget by calling for an additional $45,000 reduction in the foundation's allocation and redirecting those funds to the state convention's allocation to SBC missions and ministry efforts. Warf's motion passed by a wide margin.
The reallocation of those funds brought the state convention's 2019 SBC allocation to 41.5 percent.
Ted Kostich, pastor and messenger from Cornerstone Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., made a subsequent motion to increase the overall budget by $45,000 and restore that amount to N.C. Baptist Foundation's allocation. Kostich's motion did not pass.
N.C. Baptists have increased the budget percentage allocated to the SBC for 13 consecutive years. Ashley Clayton, vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship for the SBC Executive Committee, said in a presentation that N.C. Baptists have given $1.5 billion through the CP since the Executive Committee began keeping records.
New officers elected
Messengers also elected a full slate of new convention officers. Steve Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C., was elected president. Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Church Icard in Connelly Springs, N.C., was elected first vice president, and Matt Ledbetter, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sylva, N.C. was elected second vice president.
Scoggins and Ledbetter both ran unopposed. Pardue was elected over Perry Brindley, associational mission strategist for the Buncombe Baptist Association located in Asheville, N.C. Pardue received 418 votes (60 percent) to Brindley's 279 votes (40 percent). Ten ballots were improperly cast.
Resolution honors Graham
Messengers passed a "Resolution in Appreciation for the Life of Billy Graham," two days before what would have been the well-known evangelist's 100th birthday. Born Nov. 7, 1918, Graham was a North Carolina native who preached the Gospel around the world through evangelistic crusades during a decades-long public ministry. Graham died on Feb. 21 of this year at age 99.
The resolution recognized Graham "as a beloved Southern Baptist who traveled the world sharing the good news of Jesus Christ." It also called on individuals "to celebrate Billy Graham's legacy by committing ourselves to sharing the Gospel, living lives of personal holiness, and finding joy through an eternal peace with God accomplished by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Following the adoption of the resolution, BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. presented a plaque engraved with the full text of the resolution to David Bruce, Graham's longtime executive assistant.
Love God, love neighbor
Hollifield and other convention leaders encouraged messengers to love their neighbors and seek to reach them for Christ during a series of messages and reports shared throughout the meeting.
Hollifield preached from the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, and he presented an answer to the question posed by the event's theme "Who Is My Neighbor?"
"The answer to that question, according to the lesson Jesus taught, is that anyone you know who is in need is your neighbor," Hollifield said.
While needs may differ from person to person, everyone has a spiritual need that can only be met by Jesus Christ, Hollifield said, encouraging messengers to follow Christ's example.
"The truth of this passage in Luke 10 is you cannot separate your relationship with God from your relationship with your neighbor," Hollifield said. "Jesus cared about people in need, and He took time to show He cared."
Outgoing convention president Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe, N.C., preached on "Loving Your Neighbor" from James 2:1-13 during the annual president's address.
"I believe that deep down inside, everyone one of us as Christians already know that everyone is our neighbor," Pigg said. "I believe Jesus made that crystal clear. I believe where we struggle more is in loving our neighbor."
During the annual convention sermon, John Mark Harrison, vice president of the BSC Board of Directors who is transitioning as pastor of Apex Baptist Church in Apex, N.C., to First Baptist Concord in Knoxville, Tenn., preached on faithfulness from Hebrews 12:1-2.
Harrison challenged messengers to have a kingdom-first mindset, to pursue personal holiness, to run your race and to focus on Jesus.
During a special presentation on the opening day of the meeting, Hollifield recognized Michael C. Blackwell, president and CEO of the Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina, and presented him a plaque for 35 years of ministerial service.
An ice cream social was also held in Blackwell's honor, which was sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit Christian organization that offers legal advocacy and training for individuals and churches on matters pertaining to religious liberty.
The 2019 BSC annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 11-12 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., and will feature a commissioning service for church planters in the place of a convention sermon.