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STATE MEETINGS: South Carolina elects first Black president; Tennessee holds first-ever Virtual Summit

South Carolina Baptists elect first Black president

By Todd Deaton/Baptist Courier

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP) – Messengers to the 200th annual meeting of the South Carolina Baptist Convention elected a Simpsonville pastor as president, approved a $26.5 million Cooperative Program budget, and adopted a resolution affirming churches that also identify as Great Commission Baptists.

Alex Sands, pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville, S.C., is the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s first Black president.

In an abbreviated, one-day session Nov. 10 at the historic First Baptist Church of Columbia, messengers passed the gavel to Alex Sands, the state convention’s first Black president. Sands has been pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville for 17 years. He will lead the 2021 meeting, which will convene at First Baptist in Columbia to officially observe the convention’s 200th anniversary.

Under the theme “Legacy,” current SCBC President Josh Powell, senior pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church, convened the 2020 meeting, which drew 482 registered messengers, who observed pandemic-related restrictions.

In his address to messengers, SCBC Executive Director-Treasurer Gary Hollingsworth urged South Carolina Baptists to seek the Lord in the current time of chaos and disruption, like Isaiah saw in the year of King Uzziah’s death.

“Because we are choosing to see the Lord,” Hollingsworth said, “our eyes are going to be fixed upward and outward over the coming years.”

Wayne Bray, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Simpsonville, was elected by acclamation as president-elect. He will lead the SCBC in 2022.

Other officers also elected by acclamation were First Vice President Ron Henderson, pastor of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, Spartanburg; Second Vice President John Goudelock, associate pastor of Living Water Baptist Church, Longs; Recording Secretary Kelli Funderburk, member of Lakeview Baptist Church, Hartsville; and Registration Secretary Keith Lancaster, director of missions, Ridge Baptist Association.

Messengers approved a Cooperative Program operating budget for 2021 of $26.5 million, a decrease of $1.5 million from the preceding year.

The budget commits 45.5 percent, or $12,057,500, to Southern Baptist Convention causes and 54.5 percent, or $14,442,500, to the South Carolina Baptist Convention and its seven ministry partners.

Read the full story here.

Tennessee Baptists celebrate gains during ‘challenging time’

By Lonnie Wilkey/Baptist and Reflector

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP) – The Tennessee Baptist Convention’s first Virtual Summit was not the original choice of convention leadership but it proved to be the most viable alternative during a worldwide pandemic.

TBMB president and executive director Randy C. Davis (left) and TBC president Bruce Chesser, pastor of First Baptist Churh of Hendersonville, Tenn., introduce a segment during the TBC’s 2020 Virtual Summit.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Tennessee, the decision made in late August to cancel the in-person meeting, scheduled for Nov. 8-11 at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, proved to be prudent.

The nearly two-hour video streamed online Nov. 10. The entire Virtual Summit as well as other ancillary components can be viewed at TBCSummit.org.

The board of directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board met via Zoom Nov. 11 to adopt a $35 million Cooperative Program allocation budget for 2020-21. The budget amount is unchanged from 2019.

The cancellation of Summit 2020 forced the directors to act as Convention ad interim, in accordance of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Constitution and Bylaws.

The budget includes an allocation of 47.5 percent to the SBC and 52.5 percent to the TBC. Due to the uncertain economy, the budget will have three stages.

For the first $25 million in Cooperative Program receipts, 40 percent will be sent to fund Southern Baptist causes while 60 percent will remain in Tennessee for TBC missions and ministries.

In the second stage, $5 million will be distributed 50/50 percent between SBC and TBC causes. In the third stage, the last $5 million will be distributed with 81.3 percent to SBC causes and 18.7 percent remaining in state for TBC ministries.

Virtual Summit featured four “Good News” videos, an abbreviated president’s message, prayers from ethnic pastors across the state and various reports and worship music. Videos also highlighted ministries funded by the Cooperative Program and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions.

In his remarks, Tennessee Baptist Convention President Bruce Chesser said although COVID-19 closed churches for several months, many churches reported that members continued to give generously and some churches reported overages at the end of their budget year — including the church he pastors, First Baptist in Hendersonville.

Chesser and other officers elected in 2019 – Vice President Chuck Groover, pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Mount Juliet; and Second Vice President Corey Cain, pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour – will remain in their roles for the next year.

According to an early estimate, more than 2,000 viewers watched the livestream of the Summit.

Next year’s meeting will be held at Brentwood Baptist Church at a time to be determined.

Read the full story about the directors’ business meeting here.

Read the full story about the Virtual Summit here.

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