Upshaw elected interim EDT; Search committee provides update

February 15, 2021

Brian Upshaw, who has served in a variety of key leadership positions with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC), has been elected as the interim executive director-treasurer of the state convention effective March 1.

In this role, Upshaw will oversee the work of the state convention and carry out the duties and responsibilities performed by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., who is retiring as the BSCNC’s executive director-treasurer (EDT) on Feb. 28. Hollifield has served as the BSCNC’s top executive for nearly 15 years and for more than 27 years overall as a state convention staff member.

Brian Upshaw

The BSCNC’s board of directors unanimously elected Upshaw following a recommendation by the board’s executive committee during a meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro. Upshaw will serve in the interim role until a permanent executive director-treasurer is elected, in accordance with the state convention’s bylaws.

The bylaws authorize the board of directors to elect an interim executive director-treasurer to serve while the permanent position is vacant. The search committee tasked with recommending the next full-time executive director-treasurer is still conducting its work.

In a brief update to the board, search committee chairman Noah Crowe said the committee is close to recommending an individual for consideration as the next executive director-treasurer.

“We have been working hard and with great diligence, and we are making great progress to be able to present to you a proposed candidate very, very soon,” Crowe said.

Crowe did not give a timetable for an announcement and thanked N.C. Baptists for “your prayers, your patience and your input” regarding the search process. He also asked N.C. Baptists to continue to pray for the committee.

The committee’s recommendation will be presented to the BSCNC’s board of directors. The BSCNC’s bylaws state that the board must nominate an individual to be considered for the office of executive director-treasurer during an annual meeting or a special meeting of the convention. The bylaws also state that additional nominations may be made from the floor of the convention, and the individual receiving the majority of votes cast shall be elected executive director-treasurer.

Upshaw, who has served on the state convention staff since October 2008, thanked the board for its confidence and trust to lead the convention during the time between Hollifield’s retirement and the election of a new leader.

“It means a lot to me, and I take very seriously the charge to steward this interim period,” Upshaw said. “It’s my commitment to you to do my best to provide a measure of continuity to our staff and to all N.C. Baptists during this season of uncertainty.”

Upshaw said he hopes to model trust, compassion, stability and hope as he leads during this season, and he asked N.C. Baptists to pray for him and the entire state convention staff.

Upshaw has led the work of the convention’s Disciple-Making team for a number of years. He has also served stints as team leader of the Church Health and Revitalization team and the former Church Ministry team. In January, Upshaw was named interim executive leader of the convention’s Evangelism and Discipleship group following the retirement of Lynn Sasser.

To support Upshaw in his new responsibilities, Sasser is returning to his former role as executive leader of the Evangelism and Discipleship group on an interim basis.

Board president Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, called Upshaw a “wise choice” for interim executive director-treasurer position due to his various leadership roles with the state convention and on staff with local churches.

“The interim EDT is a very important role, even if it’s a short role because it provides continuity in the work of the convention,” Capps said. “This is an important role that we need to make sure is covered in this interim period until the search team brings forth their recommendation for the next EDT.”

Prior to joining the staff of the state convention, Upshaw served local churches in Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia. From 2000 to 2008, Upshaw served at First Baptist Church of Gulfport, Mississippi, ascending to the office of senior associate pastor. He has also served in various youth ministry and education roles in local churches.

Upshaw has also led or participated in several short-term mission trips. In addition, he has trained pastors and church leaders in East Asia, the Philippines, Moldova and Argentina.

While he seeks to provide a measure of stability in the midst of uncertainty, Upshaw also pledged to continue advancing the convention’s strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making” and serving local churches until a new leader is named.

“We will trust in His power to press forward in eager anticipation of God’s next leader for the convention,” Upshaw said.

A native of Marietta, Georgia, Upshaw earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. He taught music and was a middle school band director for several years before answering a call to vocational ministry.

Upshaw went on to earn his master of divinity, master of theology and doctor of philosophy degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he teaches graduate-level courses in leadership and disciple-making.

Upshaw and his wife, Brandie, have been married for more than 26 years, and they have two grown children.

by Chad Austin  
/  Communications  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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