CARY, N.C. (BP) – The executive committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s board of directors unanimously approved a restructuring plan for the state convention Tuesday (Aug. 24), aimed at prioritizing the needs of local churches and associations across the state.
Prior to voting on the measures presented by new North Carolina Baptists Executive Director Todd Unzicker, executive committee member Terry Stockman, associational mission strategist for the West Chowan Baptist Association, voiced a prayer on behalf of the committee, calling the moves “a historic shift in the way we do ministry here in North Carolina.”
Committee members also unanimously endorsed a Cooperative Program budget proposal for 2022 totaling $28 million, an increase of $1 million from the current budget. The proposal calls for a 3-point increase in what the state convention will send to the National Cooperative Program Allocation Budget, moving from 42 percent to 45 percent of the total CP funds collected in North Carolina.
The recommendation will now be presented to the state convention’s full board of directors for consideration at its regularly scheduled meeting in September. The budget proposal endorsed by the board will then go before messengers at this fall’s annual meeting for final consideration.
The restructure supports Unzicker’s vision for the state convention to be a movement of churches on mission together.
“By God’s grace, North Carolina Baptists have a rich history and heritage,” Unzicker said. “Our goal is to support our churches and pastors even better and in greater ways than we ever have before.”
Under the plan presented and approved by the committee, the state convention’s organizational structure will be refashioned into five main groups. Each group will be headed by a director who reports to Unzicker.
Chuck Register, current associate executive director-treasurer and executive leader for Church Planting and Missions Partnerships with the state convention, will become director of the new Mission Catalysts group.
Register will oversee a group of deployed catalysts who will serve churches in each of the geographic regions of the state as identified in the state convention’s bylaws. The deployed mission catalysts will serve as a primary contact person for pastors, churches and associations in each region. The group will also include statewide catalysts to serve African American, Asian and Hispanic pastors and churches.
Brian Upshaw, current executive leader of the state convention’s Administration and Convention Relations group, will become director of the new Ministry Strategies group.
“Your state convention will equip, train, develop and assist your church and your association with any ministry,” Unzicker said.
Seth Brown, current executive editor and president of the Biblical Recorder, will join the state convention staff as director of the new Convention Relations group and will serve as a liaison to the state convention’s board of directors, institutions, agencies, multiple committees of the board and convention, as well as other ministry partners.
“I have grown to know and love North Carolina Baptists through the ministry of the Biblical Recorder. It has been a joy to tell the stories of how God is working across this state,” Brown said. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue serving this family of churches in a new role with the state convention.”
John Butler, current executive leader for the state convention’s Business Services group, will become director of the new Operations group.
Kathryn Carson, who currently leads the work of the state convention’s Communications team, will become director of the newly formed Marketing and Communications group. Her group will work with the entire convention staff to develop resources and provide expanded support for churches.
Carson is the second woman to hold a director-level position in state convention history. Sara Ann Hobbs served as the director of the state convention’s former Division of Missions from 1978 to 1991.
Convention staff and members of the state convention’s board of directors were notified of the executive committee’s approval of the organizational changes immediately following the meeting. State convention leaders said their goal is to implement the restructuring plan by Oct. 1.
Convention leaders, including Baptist State Convention of North Carolina President Michael Pardue, expressed support of the measures adopted by the Executive Committee.
“The changes made by our Executive Committee today reflect the vision that Todd has shared with countless North Carolina Baptists since he was put forth and elected as our EDT,” Pardue said in a statement. “Todd has allowed current convention leaders, numerous pastors, associational mission strategists and former convention officers to have significant input into his thought process. I hope all North Carolina Baptists will be excited about where God is taking us as we are on mission together.”
Pardue serves as pastor of First Baptist Church Icard in Connelly Springs, N.C.
“There are times in the life of a church or a Christian organization when you have to put the vision out front and provide structure to accomplish that vision,” said board president Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C. “The main aim of this restructuring is for the mission. All of these decisions have been sought prayerfully in order to accomplish the mission of this convention.”
In addition, the committee approved the hiring of Bradley Norris to serve as the state convention’s new human resources officer, a position that has been vacant since February.
Norris, a North Carolina native, has served as executive pastor at Grace Alive Church in Orlando, Florida, since 2017. At Grace Alive, Norris was responsible for hiring, compensation, benefits, workplace culture, policies, procedures and more for a multiethnic congregation.
The Executive Committee’s next meeting will take place in conjunction with a meeting of the state convention’s board of directors that is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.
Editor’s Note: This article was edited after publication to clarify language related to the state and the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.