The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s executive committee unanimously endorsed a pair of policy proposals during a virtual meeting held Tuesday, April 25, that would establish a process to determine whether or not a church is in “friendly cooperation” with the state convention based on criteria set forth in the convention’s articles and bylaws.

The proposed policies would address matters related to Cooperative Program support, LGTBQ+ lifestyles, racial discrimination and sexual abuse. The proposals will now go before the full N.C. Baptist board of directors for consideration.

N.C. Baptist officials have been working with legal counsel and other parties on drafts of the policies since messengers at the 2022 N.C. Baptist annual meeting approved a series of changes to the state convention’s articles and bylaws that added greater specificity about what defines a cooperating church. The approval of those changes authorized the state convention’s board of directors to develop corresponding policies to apply those provisions when questions arise.

The article and bylaw changes that messengers approved at last November’s N.C. Baptist annual meeting include provisions that churches in friendly cooperation with the state convention should financially support the Cooperative Program and not “affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support, or bless” the following – LGBTQ+ lifestyles; disciminatory behavior based on race or ethnicity; or behavior inconsistent with biblical teachings regarding sexual abuse.

The N.C. Baptist board of directors will consider the recommended policies at its next meeting, which is scheduled for May 22-23.

In other business, the executive committee: received a financial update; heard a series of ministry reports; approved recommendations for a number of individuals to fill vacancies on the N.C. Baptist board of directors and the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s board of trustees; approved a one-time allocation to the N.C. Baptist Foundation for the N.C. Baptist scholarship fund; and approved an update to a policy in the state convention’s employee handbook.

Financial update

Kecia Mariotti, accounting services manager for the Baptist state convention, told executive committee members that financial support for missions and ministry efforts by N.C. Baptist churches are off to a strong start through the first quarter of 2023.

Mariotti reported that giving to the Cooperative Program (CP), North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions is higher than what was received through the same time period last year.

Through March 31, CP giving totaled more than $7.1 million, which is about 4.6% or nearly $314,000 more than 2022.

NCMO totaled more than $333,000, which is up about 6.7% or nearly $21,000 from the same time last year.

Gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering totaled more than $651,000 to date, which is up more than 9.2% or higher than $55,000 from last year at this time.

Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions totaled more than $10 million in the first quarter, which is just slightly below the amount received through the first quarter of 2022.

Pro-life initiatives

During a series of ministry reports, Steven Wade, chairman of the Christian Life and Public Affairs committee, said his committee is exploring a variety of ways to help churches minister and serve individuals and families facing unplanned or crisis pregnancy situations.

Among the initiatives the committee is exploring is providing information and resources to churches about chemical abortions, which Wade said has become one of the biggest challenges for pro-life advocates since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer. 

Legal challenges over access to the abortion pill in recent weeks prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule last Friday to keep the pill on the market while its approval is being debated in lower courts.

Wade also said N.C. Baptist officials are continuing to work with the Psalm 139 Project about placing more ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers across the state. Over the past year, state convention leaders have dedicated four ultrasound machines in different parts of North Carolina.

Scholarship funding

The committee also approved a one-time transfer of $250,000 from state convention reserve accounts to the N.C. Baptist Foundation to provide funds for the N.C. Baptist scholarship program. The transfer is in accordance with terms of the original agreement between the state convention and the foundation set forth in 2013 when the foundation assumed oversight of the scholarship program.

Board appointees

The executive committee also approved several individuals to fill several current vacancies on the N.C. Baptist board of directors and the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s board of trustees in accordance with state convention bylaws. N.C. Baptist President Quintell HIll, pastor of Multiply Community Church in Monroe, presented the recommendations on behalf of the N.C. Baptist committee on nominations.

Those approved to serve on the state convention’s board of directors were:

  • Justin Alexander of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, to fill the 2024 unexpired term of Alberto Berrio.
  • Charles Fleshman of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Asheboro, to fill the 2023 unexpired term of Walter Overman.
  • J.D. Grant of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, to fill the 2023 unexpired term of John Bailey.
  • Zac Hufty of The Village Church in Fayetteville, to fill the 2024 unexpired term of J. Allen Murray.
  • Charles Locklear of Bethany Christian Fellowship in Pembroke, to fill the 2023 unexpired term of Timmy Chavis.
  • Aaron Swain of Freedom Church in Lincolnton, to fill the 2023 unexpired term of Shawn Berryhill.

The executive committee also approved Milton A. Hollifield Jr., of Biltmore Church in Arden to fill the 2025 unexpired term of Jerry Jordan on the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s board of trustees.

Employee policy update

The executive committee also approved an updated policy in the N.C. Baptist employee handbook related to anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation.

The updated policy does not require full board approval since members of the executive committee also serve as the state convention’s personnel committee based on parameters set forth in the articles and bylaws.