GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) — Messengers from churches across North Carolina huddled in small clusters for an extended prayer service emphasizing revival and spiritual awakening to climax the Baptist State Convention (BSC) of North Carolina’s annual meeting Nov. 6-7 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.
Messengers also approved a record 2018 budget, passed a resolution denouncing racism, and affirmed another on human sexuality and marriage.
Chris Schofield, director of the BSC Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening, along with pastors, directors of missions and prayer leaders, led messengers in the “Broken Before the Throne” prayer gathering, which featured periods of Scripture reading and worship music.
More than 1,500 people were in attendance at the annual meeting, including 1,246 messengers and 299 guests.
The event’s theme, “Return to Me” was taken from Zechariah 1:3: “Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.”
Messengers approved a 2018 budget totaling $31 million, representing an increase of $625,000 (2 percent) over the 2017 budget and an 0.5 percentage uptick in the amount allocated to the Southern Baptist Convention. The new budget allocates a total of 41 percent to SBC ministries and missions.
Jeff Isenhour, chairman of the Budget Special Committee, reported that N.C. Baptist churches collectively sent more than $11.7 million in Cooperative Program support to the SBC, which marked the single-largest contribution to SBC causes through the CP in convention history.
Isenhour also reported that North Carolina churches led all state conventions by giving more than $13.6 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and ranked second among other conventions in support of North American missions with nearly $6.2 million in financial gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
Messengers approved a $2.1 million goal for the 2018 North Carolina Missions Offering, which supports disaster relief, church planting, mission camps, associational projects and mobilization ministry projects.
In his address, BSC President Cameron McGill preached from Zechariah 1:3 on “the sovereignty of God and the call of God.” McGill said God invites his people to refocus, re-vision and renew, and He promises them rest, restoration and revival.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, chose to forego a standard report in his annual address to convention messengers. Instead, Hollifield said, “I have felt for some time impressed of God to talk with you about the need that we have for a new spiritually refreshing work of God to occur in our individual lives and also in the corporate body of the churches that we attend.”
Hollifield preached from the annual meeting’s theme passage and outlined five indications of the need for spiritual awakening: loss of joy in Christ, loss of vision to reach people, loss of unity within the body, loss of Kingdom focus and loss of zeal for evangelism.
He said, “It’s been almost a hundred years since there has been a great, awakening movement of God that has swept across America. We must admit that we stand in desperate need of a fresh awakening to change God’s people, so that we can have a positive impact on our culture. I ask you, my family, will you pray for that to happen?
“I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is, do I really want to see God make a radical difference in my church or in our denomination, in order that we can reach the nation with the Gospel, and especially with those living right here in North Carolina? How desperate must our situation become before we recognize how far we have gradually, unintentionally moved away from God?”
Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe, was elected as the convention’s president for 2018. Pigg ran unopposed and was nominated by Timmy Blair, a messenger from Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier.
Joel Stephens, pastor of Wakefield Central Baptist Church in Zebulon, was re-elected as first vice president. Stephens ran unopposed and was nominated by Rick Speas, a messenger from Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
J.D. Grant, pastor of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, was re-elected as second vice president. Grant ran unopposed and was nominated by Perry Brindley, a messenger from Pole Creek Baptist Church in Candler.
Messengers adopted an amended “Resolution Denouncing Racism” that addressed the “preservation of history,” a reference to debates over Confederate monuments and statues, and affirmed the “sentiments” of an SBC resolution from earlier this year condemning “alt-right white supremacy.”
The Resolutions Committee explained why they felt such a statement was needed in a Biblical Recorder article published last month. They called racism “a critical and perennial issue in our culture and particularly in our own state,” and said the state convention should “formally express a biblically grounded opinion.”
Committee Chairman Jonathan Blaylock said at the annual meeting, “North Carolina Baptists denounce racism in all its expressions as sin against a holy and just God.”
Messengers also adopted a “Resolution on a Biblical Stance on Human Sexuality and Marriage” that affirmed “God’s good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex” and that “North Carolina Baptists commit to pray for our neighbors who identify themselves as homosexual and transgender.”
Messengers approved six motions that amended portions of the convention bylaws and one motion asking the Board of Directors to study and report back to messengers on the feasibility of establishing a training center for Vietnamese pastors.
The next annual meeting will be held Nov. 5-6, 2018, at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.