Members of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) board of directors recently heard an update on progress being made on a forthcoming measure that would outline steps by which individuals serving in leadership positions with the state convention could be removed for a moral failure.
Don Goforth, chairman of the BSCNC’s Articles and Bylaws Special Committee, shared the update during a regularly scheduled board meeting held Monday and Tuesday, May 20-21, at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.
Goforth said the committee has developed a “working draft” of an amendment to the state convention’s bylaws along with an accompanying policy that would establish a process by which certain individuals could be removed from their places of service for certain disqualifying behaviors.
Currently, the state convention’s bylaws only define objective criteria whereby a board member’s service may be terminated. Those criteria include failing to meet certain attendance requirements, moving outside the region from which they were nominated to serve, or moving out of state.
The working measure would apply to more than just board members, and it would also expand the criteria by which an individual may be removed from service. In addition to BSCNC board members, the new measure would also apply to convention officers, convention committee members, appointees to convention special committees, and the members of the board of directors of Fruitland Baptist Bible College. The measure would not apply to BSCNC employees because their conduct is governed by the state convention’s employee handbook.
The measure would also outline a process that would address and govern accusations, investigations, reports, hearings, suspensions and appeals.
Goforth estimated that the Articles and Bylaws committee is about 85 percent complete with its work on the proposals. The committee will meet again in early June to finalize a proposed bylaw amendment and policy that will be sent to the state convention’s Executive Committee for review and consideration. The final bylaw and policy proposals will be presented to the full board of directors at its September meeting. The proposed bylaw amendments will be presented to messengers attending the BSCNC annual meeting in Greensboro this November.
State convention leaders have been working on this measure since a motion was approved at the January board meeting asking the Executive Committee to develop a policy in which a board member could be removed for a moral failure.
During the course of its initial work and in consultation with legal counsel, the Executive Committee determined that such a measure should apply to more than just board members and that the proposal would best be addressed through a bylaw amendment and policy that work in tandem. At its March meeting, the Executive Committee voted to refer the matter to the Articles and Bylaws Special Committee and instructed the committee to provide subsequent updates.
The recent May board meeting was the first opportunity for the Articles and Bylaws Committee to report back to the Executive Committee and the full board since taking up the original motion.
“We would rather get this right than get this fast,” said board President Clay Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church of Matthews, who thanked committee members for their work on the motion. “We are deliberating at a slow pace to try to get something that will serve us well for the future.”
“We would rather get this right than get this fast. We are deliberating at a slow pace to try to get something that will serve us well for the future.”
BSCNC Director of Accounting Services Beverly Volz shared a financial update with the board and reported that the state convention had received more than $9.7 million in Cooperative Program (CP) receipts through the end of April. Although receipts were slightly behind pace for the current year’s budget, the total is up more than 12.8 percent, or $1.1 million, through the same time period as last year.
Volz also reported that giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions is more than $10.1 million for the year, which is up 17.8 percent from last year.
Receipts for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions are at more than $1.4 million to date, which is more than 33 percent behind last year through the same time period. Volz said, however, that she expects that figure to even out in the coming months since Easter fell approximately three weeks later in 2019 than it did in 2018.
Additionally, Volz reported that giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) totaled more than $390,000 through April, which is up nearly 28 percent through the same time period in 2018. Those early giving totals were encouraging, Volz said, because the primary NCMO emphasis does not take place until September.
As board members heard the current financial report, they also had the opportunity to share input and ask questions of the BSCNC’s Budget Committee as it works to develop a proposed CP budget for 2020. Board members participated in a listening session with the committee during the board meeting.
Following the board meeting, the Budget Committee along with convention leaders, officers and representatives from the state convention’s institutions and agencies met to hear requests and make recommendations for the 2020 budget. Once a budget proposal is developed by the committee, it will be sent to the Executive Committee for review and consideration at its July meeting. Following action by the Executive Committee, the proposed budget will be presented to the full board in September and to messengers at the annual meeting in November.
Budget Committee Chairman Rick Speas, pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, requested prayer for wisdom for himself and committee members.
“We desire more than anything else as a committee to present to you a budget that is God-given, Jesus-honoring, Holy Spirit-empowered and gospel-centered that aligns with our mission of assisting churches to fulfill their divinely appointed mission, which is the Great Commission,” Speas said. “Pray for us to that end.”
BSCNC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. recognized Allan Blume, retiring editor of the Biblical Recorder, for his years of service to North Carolina Baptists. Prior to becoming editor, Blume served as pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone. Hollifield described Blume as a “humble servant of God” who has always been supportive of the state convention.
Blume will retire following an eight-year stint as editor of the Recorder at the end of May. In remarks to the board, Blume thanked convention leaders and pastors for their support of the Recorder.
“Thank you for understanding the unique value of the Biblical Recorder’s ministry and supporting the work we do for your churches and for the kingdom,” Blume said.
In retirement, Blume said he plans to continue to care for and spend more time with his wife, Pam, who is in the midst of a seven-year battle with breast cancer. He also plans to devote more time to his hobby of making pens while also serving churches through interim pastorates, pulpit supply and communications training.
“I am retiring as editor of the Biblical Recorder,” Blume said. “I am not retiring from ministry. As you know, ministry is a calling, not a vocation.”
Children’s ministry, church planting highlighted
During his board address, Hollifield recognized two BSCNC staff members to share about their respective ministries.
Cheryl Markland, senior consultant for childhood ministries, made a brief presentation to the board in which she provided a number of safety and security resources for children’s and youth ministries. Markland reminded board members to take any allegations of abuse seriously and that under North Carolina law, churches are required to report allegations to local law enforcement or the county Department of Social Services.
Markland said items available to churches and pastors from the state convention include training videos, a framework for developing safety and security measures, a comprehensive security resource list, and more. Resources may be accessed by visiting ncbaptist.org/children.
Hollifield also introduced Mike Pittman, the BSCNC’s new team leader for church planting, to the board. Pittman joined the state convention staff in February after serving as pastor of Vertical Church in Lumberton, a church he helped plant.
Pittman shared his vision to see a “reproducing church movement” across North Carolina that is undergirded by prayer. Pittman said his team’s goal is to help churches recognize the opportunity they have to reproduce and to encourage them to “plant churches that plant churches.”
More information on church planting is available at ncbaptist.org/churchplanting.
The BSCNC Executive Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 11.
The next meeting of the full board of directors is Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 23-24.