N.C. Baptists elect first African American president, celebrate being ‘On Mission Together’
By Chad Austin/BSCNC
GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) – With a theme focused on being “On Mission Together,” N.C. Baptists celebrated unity, diversity and partnerships during the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) 192nd annual meeting, which saw messengers elect an African American to the office of state convention president for the first time.
The historic event drew 1,641 attendees – 1,355 messengers and 286 guests – from churches across the state for the two-day meeting, held Nov. 7-8 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.
During the meeting, messengers adopted a $29.5 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2023, heard a report on the results of a review of the state convention’s existing policies pertaining to sexual abuse awareness, and learned more about the state convention’s recently announced church planting partnership with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), known as SendNC.
Messengers also approved a series of changes to the state convention’s articles and bylaws, and approved a change in the relationship between the state convention and N.C. Baptist Hospital.
Newly elected President Quintell Hill previously served two terms as the state convention’s first vice president. Jason Miller, pastor of Dutch Cove Baptist Church in Canton, was elected first vice president. He ran unopposed. Allen Murray, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church in Kelly, N.C., was elected second vice president.
Increased 2023 budget approved
Messengers approved a $29.5 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2023 that reflected a $1.5 million or 5.4 percent increase over the current $28 million budget. The 2023 budget will increase the state convention’s allocation to global ministry partners by 3 percentage points, moving from 45 percent to 48 percent of the total budget. The budget also included increased funding for N.C. Baptist ministries.
Sexual abuse review report
N.C. Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker also shared the results of a yearlong review of the state convention’s existing policies, procedures and materials related to sexual abuse awareness, prevention and response.
The review came at the direction of the BSC’s executive committee prior to the 2022 annual meeting. The review included N.C. Baptist camps and conference centers, as well as Fruitland Baptist Bible College, which are all owned and operated by the state convention.
“The convention’s overall policies and procedures, I am pleased to report, are good, but they were in need of updating,” Unzicker said.
Unzicker said convention officials sought independent assistance from subject matter experts, outside counsel, abuse survivors and others during the course of the review. The review led to N.C. Baptists providing more resources and training to churches and associations, which included the launch of a web page with comprehensive abuse resources that is available at ncbaptist.org/abuse.
Unzicker said N.C. Baptist officials will continue to take proactive steps to prevent and respond to abuse, while also providing care for abuse survivors.
‘On Mission Together’
In his address to messengers during the meeting’s opening session, Unzicker shared stories and examples of how N.C. Baptists are demonstrating the event’s theme of being “On Mission Together.”
“‘On Mission Together’ is way more than a slogan,” Unzicker said. “It’s more than a vision statement. It’s who we are as N.C. Baptists.”
Next year’s N.C. Baptist annual meeting will return to the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro on Nov. 6-7, 2023.
Hawaii Pacific Baptists focus on unity
By Karen L. Willoughby
HONOLULU (BP) – Fellowship was “sweet” at this, the 80th annual meeting Nov. 3-4 of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, Executive Director Chris Martin said. It was the first time since 2019 for the meeting to take place in person.
“Our restrictions from the pandemic were just lifted this spring,” Martin told Baptist Press. “We enjoyed tremendous support present from the Southern Baptist Convention entities and from our churches and it really made for a sweet time together.”
The 35 guests and 185 messengers from 52 of Hawaii Pacific’s 150 churches included representation from each of Hawaii’s six major islands, plus from affiliated churches in American Samoa, Guam, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.
They gathered at the Prince Waikiki Hotel on the island of Oahu, with a theme of “United Through the Cross,” based on 1 Corinthians 1:18.
Business included several motions, two resolutions, passage of the 2023 budget and the election of officers.
“Looking back over the past 80 years of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, we cannot pay back those with the original vision of Southern Baptist churches in Hawaii and the Pacific cooperating in ministry and missions,” Martin said in his executive director’s report. “But we can move forward by renewing today’s vision and plan to pay it forward for the next 80 years and beyond. It is time for us to build our own foundation of generosity for the coming generations.”
An unexpected motion related to this, brought by a messenger, passed unanimously.
“The motion was that the Executive Board would explore ways to get all the churches in the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention to give to missions through the Cooperative Program,” Martin said, adding that 100 of the affiliated churches give through CP, and many of the 50 who don’t give are in transition.
“The motion came from the floor,” Martin continued. “It was well received. I believe for us to explore this and find a way to encourage giving is going to be good for us all.”
Messengers approved a $1,075,000 budget for 2023, down from $1.2 million last year. This includes an anticipated $900,000 from Hawaii Pacific Southern Baptist churches, down $60,000 from last year. Of the total given, Hawaii Pacific plans to send 20 percent for the fifth year to the SBC Executive Committee, for disbursement as directed by messengers to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim in June.
“The impact of Cooperative Program giving across the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention equips and empowers the churches of Hawaii and the Pacific to engage in ministries far beyond our individual resourcing,” Martin said. “We highly value the cooperative nature of our churches and the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention as together we support CP. especially as we continue to tackle the problem of lostness across our convention territories.”
The following officers each were elected to their first one-year term: President John Endriss, pastor of Engage Church in Hilo, Hawaii; First Vice President Sterling Lee, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pearl City; and Second Vice President Brian Frable, pastor of Kona Baptist Church in Kona.
Grace Poei, a member at University Avenue Baptist Church in Honolulu, was re-elected recording secretary.
Reports given by state convention leaders provided insights into ministry throughout the high-dollar Hawaii Pacific region.
From Associate Executive Director for Business/Finance Mike Martin: “The overall trend is that our pastors are receiving compensation that is below minimum livable wage (Hawaii mostly) and church members do not understand the impact of ministerial taxation (especially paying self-employment taxes). Most pastors are receiving less cash (financial resources to take care of family needs) than they can survive on for an extended period of time. This will continue to impact churches with succession plans for future pastoral positions.
“Over the past several years, and especially during 2022 when living expenses are increasing,” Martin continued. “There has been limited training on personal stewardship done by the church. Families are having to make hard choices in their personal finances and this result is affecting overall giving in our churches in supporting the work of the ministry. The impact of the economic downturn is expected to last through 2024.”
From Associate Executive Director of Advance Brian Smart: A formal reciprocal partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board is to start in January. Six church plants are ongoing. Hawaii Pacific Baptists are looking at increasing work among the deaf, among Russian churches in Hawaii, on the New Zealand mission field, and expanding work in Japan and South Korea. In searching for creative ministry opportunities in Hawaii, a recent football clinic brought together 100 high school football coaches.
“I think our theme was very well-chosen and the president’s message set a wonderful tone for the rest of the meeting in realizing the importance of our theme,” Martin said. “In spite of challenges we find our purpose through unity in the cross. If we’ll stay focused on being united in the cross, God will take care of the rest.”
Specifics of the 2023 annual meeting have not been determined, but the gathering is to take place on the island of Oahu.