GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) — Messengers to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina approved an increased budget as well as resolutions addressing marriage and gambling.
During the shortened two-day format Nov.7-8 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, 1,719 messengers and 138 guests from about 700 of the convention’s more than 4,300 churches celebrated the theme “All In,” based on 1 Timothy 2:3-6.
“I call all North Carolina Baptists to join us, to commit, to invest and to dedicate themselves in 2012 to expanding the Kingdom for the glory of our Lord and Savior,” Milton A. Hollifield Jr., the convention’s executive director, said. “This vision requires a laser focus and sacrificial commitment by all who wish to see its fulfillment. Are we all in?”
For the first time since 2008, messengers approved an increased budget. The $33.5 million budget for 2012 is a 2.5 percent increase over the current year and includes a .5 percent-of-budget increase in giving to national and international missions and ministries. The convention, which has raised that portion of the budget by .5 percent for several years, now will forward 35.5 percent.
For the sixth consecutive year, North Carolina Baptists have increased their monetary support of church planting and missions in the state, and evangelistic efforts also will receive an increase.
Other ministries and agencies reflecting an increase in allocated funds include the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, North Carolina Baptist Hospital (School of Pastoral Care), Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, the Biblical Recorder newsjournal and North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry.
The 2012 budget is the first in decades that does not include funding for BSC-affiliated educational institutions — Campbell University, Chowan University, Gardner-Webb University, Mars Hill College and Wingate University. The convention will continue to support scholarships to these institutions.
Three resolutions were approved by North Carolina messengers. One was a general resolution thanking the host city. The other two addressed significant issues in the state.
Jim Jacumin proposed a resolution supporting a statewide amendment recognizing marriage as between a man and woman. The amendment will go before North Carolina voters in May.
Jacumin is a member of East Valdese Baptist Church in Valdese and a member of the BSC Board of Directors. He serves on the BSC’s Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee.
“This resolution speaks for itself, but it also tells us a lot about ourselves,” Jacumin told messengers before they approved the resolution. “Today we’re about to make a decision that will test our obedience [to God].”
Phil Addison, pastor of Stony Point Baptist Church in Stony Point, proposed a resolution against the expansion of Class 3 or Las Vegas-style gambling in North Carolina. Addison also is a member of the convention’s Board of Directors, serving on the evangelization committee.
“With each passing year and each new legislation session that comes into effect, it seems it is becoming a progression that has now led us to what, in my opinion, is a very predatory and a very malicious way of bringing people in to really take advantage of them,” Addison said.
“We as a convention really need to oppose any gambling and especially an expansion of where live dealers are going to be bringing people in. This does not increase wealth. It simply takes advantage of people, and we shouldn’t be for that.”
Addison’s first attempt was sent to the BSC’s resolutions committee for consideration, and messengers added another miscellaneous business session in the afternoon to revisit the resolution. In the afternoon, Addison said suggestions from the committee “greatly shortened” the resolution.
Noah Crowe, pastor of First Baptist Church in Robbinsville and a member of the Eastern Cherokee Indians, spoke in support of the resolution.
“I stand today in support of this resolution, giving voice to many … members who were never asked if we wanted gambling on our reservation and never even given an opportunity to vote on the issue,” Crowe said.
“Now alcohol, which we were told would never be pushed, is now being sold in the casino,” he said.
Crowe said gambling began as a “small agreement” or “compact” entered into by the men of the tribe but “has now blossomed into a large gaming enterprise” bringing in millions of dollars. He mentioned a gamblers anonymous meeting going on weekly for the tribe.
The resolutions were approved without opposition.
Elected as convention officers were Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, president; Conley J. “CJ” Bordeaux Sr., pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, first vice president; and Timmy D. Blair Sr., pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, second vice president.
Next year’s annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will be Nov. 12-13 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
Dianna L. Cagle is assistant managing editor of the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Shawn Hendricks of the Biblical Recorder contributed to this report.