GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina Baptists must be people marked by gospel unity and evangelistic fervor, state executive Todd Unzicker declared to messengers attending the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) annual meeting on Monday, Nov. 8 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center.
In his first annual meeting address to messengers, Unzicker shared a vision for N.C. Baptists based on Revelation 5 during the opening session of the two-day event.
“The vision that we see in Revelation 5, along with the rest of Scripture, calls us to be a movement of churches on mission together,” Unzicker said. “We are on our way to becoming the beautiful image in this passage. This is an astounding vision.
“The sheer magnitude of God’s glory is overwhelming, but this is what we are marching toward.”
In a wide-ranging address, Unzicker shared examples of how N.C. Baptist churches have already demonstrated a spirit of being on mission together and outlined several goals for the convention based upon that vision.
“This vision that I am laying before you today is not from me,” Unzicker said. “It’s all right here from the Book of Revelation. It’s a vision of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned by the hand of John, all in praise of the name of Jesus.”
Unzicker said the glimpse of heaven that the apostle John offers in Revelation 5:1-14, of Jesus being worshiped by multitudes around the throne of God as the Lamb slain as a sacrifice for sin, should cause Christians to ask themselves four questions.
Those questions are: Do I pray as if I believe God will answer? Am I truly willing to suffer for the sake of the mission? Is what I’m offering people truly the gospel? Do I seek to bring the gospel to everyone?
“There are thousands of people groups that have never heard the name of Christ,” Unzicker said. “We will be a convention that brings Jesus to people and keeps Jesus at the center of all we do.”
‘Fill the Tank’
Unzicker said North Carolina Baptists have already seen God moving in the state. Shortly after being elected executive director-treasurer in late May, Unzicker encouraged churches to participate in a widespread baptism emphasis in September that was called “Fill the Tank.”
Nearly 700 N.C. Baptist churches — approximately one-fourth of actively participating churches — committed to take part in the special day, which resulted in nearly 1,800 baptisms being reported by 356 churches. The result of the “Fill the Tank” emphasis led to what is believed to be the highest number of baptisms in a single day in North Carolina history.
“We have a lot to celebrate,” Unzicker said. “We also have untold opportunities before us.”
Unzicker said he prayerfully hopes to see the state convention send 500 new missionaries, plant 100 new churches per year and see increased ethnic diversity in North Carolina churches. He also wants to increase disaster relief volunteers, make theological education more accessible, and address foster care and adoption needs in the state.
‘Every Child’ partnership
State convention officials took a significant step in advancing one of those goals near the conclusion of Unzicker’s remarks with a major contribution to the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) “Every Child” foster care and adoption ministry.
Unzicker presented a $300,000 gift to BCH President and CEO Michael Blackwell on behalf of the state convention to help launch the initiative, which is a partnership between the two organizations focused on eradicating childhood homelessness by involving local churches through training, equipping, encouragement and support.
With approximately 16,000 children in the foster care system in the state, Unzicker said he and Blackwell believe that the local church is the answer to ending child homelessness in North Carolina.
Unzicker said initiatives like “Fill the Tank” and “Every Child” are just a foretaste of what God can do when churches are united around the gospel.
“North Carolina Baptists, let’s be on mission together for the name and fame of Jesus Christ.”