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South Carolina meeting gives spotlight to new missionaries, Cooperative Program

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP)–Messengers to the South Carolina Baptist Convention witnessed the appointment of 65 new missionaries, adopted a record budget, rejoiced in the accomplishments of partnership missions efforts, approved a resolution on the state lottery and elected the pastor of the host church as their president.

With “Partners in the Harvest” as the theme of their Nov. 13-14 meeting, South Carolina Baptists celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Cooperative Program channel of support for state missions causes and worldwide missions. Through videos and testimonies, representatives of various ministries across the state, such as equestrian, seafarers, raceway, English teachers and disaster relief, were heralded as “faithful workers obsessed with the harvest of the kingdom.”

Executive Director-Treasurer B. Carlisle Driggers said South Carolina Baptists have been strong supporters of missions work for many years, and that dedication is why the North American Mission Board selected the state convention’s annual session as the site for a commissioning service.

For most of the 1,380 messengers at First Baptist Church, Columbia, the commissioning service for 65 North American Mission Board missionaries, capped by an address by NAMB President Robert E. Reccord, was the highlight of this year’s convention. The new appointees will join the 5,000 NAMB-related workers serving across the United States and Canada.

The event marked the first NAMB commissioning service held during a meeting of the state convention. A commissioning service for International Mission Board missionaries is planned for next year’s annual session.

Messengers approved a record $30.1 million budget for 2001 during the executive board report, which will be allocated by a 60-40 percentage between South Carolina Baptist and Southern Baptist Convention causes. Approximately $18.2 million will remain in the state for missions and ministry, while about $11.9 million will be forwarded for national and international work.

Driggers challenged churches to increase their percentage giving to the Cooperative Program. He will head a 24-member CP study committee, which was appointed by convention President Don Purvis, recently retired pastor of Hartsville’s Lakeview Baptist Church, and executive board chairman Rick Fisher, pastor of Lexington (S.C.) Baptist Church.

Leaders from the Romanian and Hungarian Baptist conventions and the International Mission Board expressed appreciation for the accomplishments of more than 800 South Carolina Baptists during the three-year partnership with Romania.

Jere Phillips, executive director of West Virginia Baptists, rejoiced in the work of 14,000 South Carolina volunteers who have built churches, conducted Bible schools, participated in dental and medical missions, and led sports camps and other ministries that have resulted in 1,960 professions of faith.

Dale Warton, missionary to Taiwan, encouraged participation in South Carolina Baptists’ newest partnership with the heavily Buddhist, Southeast Asian country where he serves. That partnership officially begins in January 2001.

South Carolina Baptists adopted resolutions voicing their continued opposition to funding education through a state lottery, concern about the numbers of first-time offenders returning to prisons, and urged increasing in giving as a means of celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Cooperative Program.

While urging elected officials to make public education a priority, the resolution on the lottery called on the state legislature to “work relentlessly toward the ultimate removal of all forms of gambling from our state.”

Messengers resolved to continue efforts to educate the public about the destructive evils of gambling and to “set a positive example for others to follow by personally abstaining from gambling in any form.”

They pledged to be involved in intentional ministries for ex-offenders that promote successful transitions back into communities and called on the state’s General Assembly to adopt measures to reduce the return rate of first-time offenders.

The CP resolution came as a response to a 1999 resolution at the SCBC annual session that encouraged members to pray for missions, volunteers for missions opportunities, and to be faithful in gifts to missions through the Cooperative Program.

Wendell Estep, pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, since 1986, was elected by acclamation as SCBC president. Estep, who previously served three churches in Oklahoma, has been a member of the trustee boards of Charleston Southern University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Randall Jones, pastor of Langston Baptist Church, Conway, was elected first vice president, also by acclamation. A trustee of the North American Mission Board, Jones also serves on The Baptist Courier’s board of trustees.

Fountain Inn pastor Tony Beam defeated Honea Path pastor Joe Thomas in a ballot vote, 356 to 154, for the office of second vice president. Beam is chairman-elect of The Baptist Courier’s board of trustees and was president of the state pastors’ conference last year.

Next year’s meeting will be Nov. 13-14 at First Baptist Church, Columbia.

    About the Author

  • Todd Deaton