Archive for the ‘Milton Hollifield’ Category

I understand that spending cuts at NAMB in order to channel available funds to its church-planting program included an elimination of support to the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE).

Max

The comment above was third in the comment stream for a post here at Southern Baptist in NC.  The post was one where I analyzed the recent NAMB mission statement that was approved at the convention in June.  Brother Max commented concerning the COSBE cuts made by NAMB and certainly we have many full-time itinerant Evangelists concerned over their relationship with the entity that was created in order to evangelize North America.

My concerns about this new mission statement covered four areas and not one of these areas had anything to do with COSBE. In all four areas my concern was the appearance of eliminating any kind of partnership with the local association.  When Brother Max brought to my attention the concern of elimination of COSBE I remembered how church planting here in NC, at one time, was not producing churches that were known for baptizing people.  To my recollection there was a time in NC that we did not see a significant increase in baptisms among our church plants.  That concern was voiced throughout the pastors of NC and within the halls of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) offices in Cary. Thus, I responded to Max with the following comment.

I believe you are correct. That is what I understand. What you will find if you check with state conventions is they are eliminating Evangelism Director and even entire evangelism departments. Many are going with just church planting.

Here in NC, our Evangelism Director had a come to Jesus meeting [Emphasis were not in original comment] with our Executive Director/Treasurer concerning church planting boot camp without training the church planter in evangelism training. The results of that meeting was an implementation of evangelism training in the church planting boot camp and that resulted in church plants growing.

We seem to have gone to a new evangelism of just planting churches. Read the Church Planting report of our recent BSC Board of Directors meeting. We are seeing many churches planted and many baptisms. Thus, it seems all one has to do is plant a church if one wants to see baptisms increase.

Blessings,
Tim

Many times comments garner me emails and sometimes a phone call or two.  Some emails and phone calls are very cordial and encouraging while others are not so encouraging or cordial.  I have come to understand that you take the good with the bad.  Well, this comment did more than garner me a phone call, it brought about a follow-up visit from Brother Don McCutcheon, Executive Director of our Evangelization Department.

(more…)

In a previous article concerning the convention I covered the motion that I raised concerning social drinking.  Since that time the Biblical Recorder has released an article concerning my motion and a motion on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 becoming our doctrinal parameters. What is interesting is the Baptist Faith and Message motion only gets minimal press coverage and the resolution affirming the Great Commission Task Force Report made by fellow pastor and blogger Brent Hobbs, took a 2/3 majority to get to the floor then passed overwhelmingly has seemingly received little to no press coverage. Be that as it may I would like to conclude my report on the convention by assessing the directions discussed and the results of the votes at this year’s convention.

First, we will have a shorter meeting next year.

It is apparent that we need a shorter meeting.  What does that mean for certain things?  Will that mean that the Pastor’s Conference will end at noon on Monday and the convention begin at 2:00pm?  Does that mean that the “break out” sessions will take the same route of the CBF-NC–no longer a part of the annual convention?  I understand the need for a shorter meeting as Wednesday morning’s session is populated by the same people that populate a crime scene–only necessary personnel.  On Wednesday morning this year, according to the schedule, we saw the WMU–10 minutes; Board of Directors–20 minutes; Baptist Foundation–5 minutes; Baptist Hospital-5 minutes; and then three committees reported–30 minutes.  Of course if one adds up the time it took for those reports, one will find a total time of 1 hours and 10 minutes.  If one observes the schedule for the Break Out sessions one will find 1 hour and 15 minutes for that time.  Thus, we do have the room in the current format to schedule the Wednesday AM business for Tuesday afternoon.

(more…)

Louisiana Baptist (LBC) must be drinking from the same fountain that I am drinking.  I sent a resolution to the Resolution Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) entitled “Accentuating the Cooperative Program”.  In that three and one-half page resolution it was a history lesson in the “Whereas” statements on the Cooperative Program (CP).  The resolves called on the BSCNC to recognize the CP as the only missions giving platform.  Shortly after that resolution was affirmed as being recieved by the BSCNC committee, the LBC resolution ran in Baptist Press.  Boy, what a shot in the arm it was for me to see, not only a state convention Executive Committee affirm their Executive Director, but also recognize the CP as their main funding source for missions.

(more…)

In church life there is always someone that wants special attention. They desire it so much that many times the items they desire comes before the church for a vote. Usually when the vote is taken it comes as a result of campaigning in order to get the proper people in place in order to speak for the special item that calls for the entire church’s attention. When the vote is taken most Baptist will move in the direction of the vote and you never hear from it again. Unless that special item that would give someone the special attention that they sought is not passed by the church. Then there is an all out attack on the leadership of the church. You will hear things like; “the Deacons do nothing but follow the Pastor”; “the Pastor is a dictator that only wants his way”; “the people in this church have lost their voice”; and my personal favorite one to hear; “this is all about control and power”.

Denominational life is not that much different than church life. In denominational life you have the same types of issues come before the body. This past North Carolina Baptist State Convention (BSCNC) meeting was no different. What was different were the Wednesday morning votes. Dr. Roy Smith, retired Executive-Director Treasurer, presented an amendment to the budget that called for increasing the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) $500k. This increase was to go the Women’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) to enable them to make their transition from being under the umbrella of the BSCNC to becoming completely independent. This amendment was soundly defeated. That was the surprise. I was shocked that the amendment was defeated by such a large majority of messengers on Wednesday morning.

You have to know NC Baptist politics to understand my shock. First we are speaking about WMU. For NC Baptist there are three rules to surviving in the local church and state denominational life. One, do not say anything in private that you are not willing to vouch for in public. Two, most of the time those elected by the church/convention are not really the ones setting the vision. Three, never, ever, under any circumstances, cross the WMU. Why is the third one so important? Because you cannot argue against spending money that will enable missions. Also, you cannot debate why we need to close down the arm that is responsible for raising the Missions Offering.

Because the amendment failed we left Greensboro, NC with the understanding that the ball was now in WMU-NC’s court as to what they are going to do. Do they stay or do they go? If they stay the leadership of BSCNC has made it clear they will receive them back. But the WMU-NC has decided to leave and that appears final. Then something comes in the mail for the WMU director in the churches across NC that are affiliated with the BSCNC and it was a bit surprising. I was more disappointed than surprised but surprised was still my reaction. There was a personal letter signed by Dr. Roy Smith, along with his wife, inviting the WMU Directors to various meetings across the state. In this letter, disguised as an invitation to informational meetings, the WMU-NC’s apparent financial crisis is laid at the feet of the BSCNC leadership. Dr. Smith encourages the local WMU Directors to receive a special offering in their churches to help raise funds for the WMU-NC to make their transition for the next year. Dr. Smith invokes sentiments based on false information. Dr. Smith writes: “A crisis has been thrust upon Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina by the leadership of the Baptist State Convention.” This statement is, at the least ill informed about the issues, and at the most, intentionally false.

There are various areas of concern for me and I pray the leaders in our convention address them. First, Dr. Smith’s letter was a personal letter that was distributed by WMU-NC in WMU-NC envelops using a BSCNC postal stamp. That is correct BSCNC funds, because the NCMO offering is a negative offering, are being used. Dr. Smith has spoken disparagingly against the leadership of BSCNC and he did it on the BSCNC’s dime. Second, what precedence is being set by this letter? I am certain, with Dr. Smith being the NC Baptist historian that he is, there will be some obscure letter produced from somewhere in the 1950’s that comes from a person asking for funds for missions. However, I believe that one will find, if such a letter is produced, that it was a cooperative offering that was being promoted. The WMU-NC offering that Dr. Smith is promoting is one that is very divisive. Second, this letter is completely against the way that Baptist have done things in the past. Whenever a vote was taken in the past that did not go the way of conservatives, they regrouped and presented it differently to the convention the following year. Many walked away disappointed and even angry but never was there this kind of questionable tactics performed. Dr. Smith, through this move, has expressed that he knows better than 1500 BSCNC duly elected messengers on how to vote. Dr. Smith’s amendment was voted down and he has now found a way to retaliate on the dime of the ones that he is trying to bring down. Third, Dr. Smith has completely distanced himself from the Southern Baptist Convention. He is strangely making accusations against the leadership of the BSCNC and has consistently distanced himself along with the BSCNC from the SBC. The vote was taken by a duly called convention and the WMU-NC needs to make a decision. Because Dr. Smith is leading this charge and all of the churches that are hosting the meetings are aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the WMU-NC needs to make a decision. Either talk to the leadership of the convention and rectify a wrong, or leave and let the hollow promises of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-NC keep the bills paid. However, it appears that a decision has already been made. Here is a quote of Rev. Ruby Fulbright, Executive Director of WMU-NC:

WMU of NC is very appreciative of the continued support of CBFNC and the churches of this fellowship. We are grateful for the partnership we share in missions education and involvement. Now, I am overwhelmed by your kindness in helping us to meet practical needs – paying the bills. So many times the Father shows His amazing love in very unexpected ways.

Fourth, this letter comes out the end of November. By the timing, it is now presented as a direct appeal against the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. How many churches will have WMU-NC Directors standing before their respective congregations, crying crocodile tears, appealing for people to take part of their planned Lottie offerring and send it to the WMU-NC? I think it is an egregious act for WMU-NC–an organization that says their hearts are for missions–to send out a letter at this time of the year. If this letter were to have come in January, I could have backed off of such strong rhetoric. However, with this letter surfacing at this time of the year, it tells me that the WMU-NC no longer is holding the ropes. It seems they have decided to release the ropes and allow our missions to suffer in order to fulfill their selfish desire not to have Milton Hollifield sign off on the people they hire. What a shame!

While I know there is nothing that the BSCNC leadership can do, per say, concerning this letter. They can call for Dr. Smith to reimburse the BSCNC for the funds it took to pay for the envelopes and postage. I am appalled and offended that a retired E-D/Treasurer would take this kind of public posture against a duly elected E-D/Treasurer. Dr. Smith owes Rev. Hollifield a public apology. The entire time that Brother Milton worked in the BSCNC he never spoke against Dr. Smith, and there probably will not be anything said by Brother Milton against Dr. Smith now. But Dr. Smith has made an unprecedented move against the BSCNC and the WMU-NC has made an unprecedented move against Lottie and our Missionaries.

The closing gavel has fallen on the one-hundred and seventy-seventh session of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. It was a great time to see people and spend some time with those that I have not seen in the past year. I was able to see others that I have not seen in over four or five years. This year it was a bitter sweet time as I traversed the hallway between the convention session and the exhibit area. It was a bitter time as I heard less than edifying comments being made from messengers on both sides of the issues. As I walked and heard the various comments, I was reminded of what my Mother has told me since I was old enough to understand; “if you cannot say something good about someone, then do not say anything at all.” It was a sweet time in that I was able to visit with many that have made an impact in my life.

In this post, it is my desire to give the facts but not say anything negative about the personalities. I will give my opinion about the major issues that came before us and then present my opinion for how the issues affect the future of the BSCNC.

The Issues That Came Before Us

The convention dealt with four divisive issues. Tuesday morning the convention heard an appeal from Myers Park Baptist Church in a request to seat her messengers. In this appeal MPBC placed their Lesbian Deacon before the messengers and she appealed to John 3:16 as she argued for inclusion. The messengers listened to the appeal from this deacon and her Pastor. When it came time to respond from the convention floor the messengers stepped to the microphone and graciously responded. Brother David Martin from First Baptist Cary lovingly and passionately pleaded the case for repentance and becoming a new creature. Never condemning this precious lady, but openly admonishing her to repent from her lifestyle. There was one messenger from First Baptist Greensboro that appealed to the convention to allow MPBC to be seated. When the vote was taken the appeal was defeated by an overwhelming majority.

The Baptist college and universities study committee report came after this MPBC vote. While it was divisive, this report passed. One other thing that was different but pertained to the college and universities, concerned Wingate University. Wingate University chose to recommend their own trustees to the convention this year. They chose to fill 9 trustee slots and presented a list of 11 names. Nine would be presented to the convention along with two alternates. One of the alternates presented was a Resa Harris from Myers Park Baptist Church. The person making the recommendation from Wingate stated that this was a non-issue because this person was presented as an alternate in the case something happens to another trustee. Much discussion followed this asking for clarification. It never was clearly identified that this person would not serve.

Wednesday morning brought with it two more issues that were divisive. These issues brought with it a passion that is close to home for everyone. The first issue that gained our attention on Wednesday morning was the Baptist Retirement Homes Study Committee Report. After the Study Committee officially released the report to the convention it was requested that a representative from the BRH speak to the convention about the report. No one came to any of the microphones. Opportunities were presented to the BRH to speak and once again before any messenger was allowed to speak for or against the report. Thus, the BRH had ample opportunity to speak to this report. In this report, it was recommended that we release the 2007 escrowed funds. This recommendation was amended from the floor that in essence called for the BRH to return to the table and if they did not come back to work with us, then the funds would not be released. This amendment passed by a large majority and we moved on to the Budget Committee Report.

The Budget Committee Report was presented and the main focus was the North Carolina Missions Offering. In this offering in the past the Womens Missionary Union of North Carolina received the largest portion of the offering at 33%. This amounts to nearly $900k of a $2.5 million offering. This year the offering was set at $2 million and the WMU-NC was excluded. The BSCNC Board of Directors approved, in their October 29, 2007 called meeting to remove WMU-NC from the NCMO and and allow WMU-NC to promote an annual offering solely for themselves. Many in the leadership and others connected with WMU-NC were not happy about this move and mounted a propaganda campaign on Tuesday. As I entered the convention hall on Tuesday afternoon I was presented with a pamplet from a person saying he was representing Friends of the WMU. In this pamplet there were many half-truths presented and really stirred up the ire of some conservatives. As reported on this blog, there was a motion made to return the WMU-NC to the NCMO. Dr. Roy Smith, former Executive Director/Treasurer stepped up to the microphone and amended the budget report to increase the NCMO by $500k and for this amount to go to the WMU-NC. After a passionate debate on this amendment from both sides the amendment failed.

Highlights of the Convention

The messages at this year’s convention were phenomenal. It seemed that God had His special anointing on our speakers this year like never before. Monday evening began with a sermon from Dr. Jim Henry, former Pastor of First Baptist Orlando and President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Henry is currently Interim Pastor at Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville, NC. I believe, but I have not verified, that Dr. Henry has retired to the North Carolina Mountains. I do know that this is his second Interim Pastorate in North Carolina. I do not believe that NC Churches are flying him back and forth in order for him to do interim work. However, Dr. Henry gave a challenging message on unity. Tuesday morning Brother Milton Hollifield gave his ExD/T address and did he knock it out of the park. His call to the convention for choosing your loyalties was a message that should have been heard many years ago. He unashamedly stood before the messengers and presented a challenge for us as we move into the future. Then Dr. Stan Welch gave his final Presidents address. He challenged us to be fishing and not only to fish but to learn how to fish. I am going to miss Dr. Welch’s leadership. But, the message of messages was Dr. Mark Harris. Dr. Harris is currently serving as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Charlotte. Brother Mark took his text from Nehemiah and challenged NC Baptist to rebuild the walls. Brother Mark observed that we needed to rebuild the walls that have been broken down in NC Baptist life. Brother Mark called us to the rebuilding of the walls of consecration and then did something that has never been done in the 177 year history of our convention. He gave an altar call. Many responded committing to the future of the BSCNC and it was the talk of the convention on Wednesday. What a great time of worship.

The officer elections was a time of zero controversy. On Tuesday morning we had the Presidental election and Dr. Rick Speas, who served as our 1VP and is Senior Pastor of Oldtowne Baptist Church in Winston Salem, was elected without opposition. I went to school with Brother Rick at SEBTS and have seen God use him throughout his time here in NC. I believe he will make a great President and look forward to his leadership. Then Dr. Leland Kerr, currently the Director of Missions for the Wilmington Association and serving as 2VP was nominated and elected to the office of 1VP. After that Dr. Phil Ortega, Senior Pastor of Scotts Hills Baptist Church in Wilmington was elected to serve as our 2VP. The Recording Secretary nominated and elected was Rev. Tim Lowry, Senior Pastor of Balfour Baptist Church in Asheboro. The only challenge race that had to be balloted in the officers election was that of Assistant Recording Secretary.

Seeing Brothers and Sisters that you have not seen was a grand highlight. I met Brother Benji Ramsuer for the first time. I knew his Dad and Mom as his Dad used to be Pastor of a neighboring church. However, I never met Brother Benji. Brother Benji and I had an enjoyable time of raggin on each other and I surprised him by my statement about a slight move in my theology. He responded that there may yet be hope for me. From there I was able to introduce him to Brother Les Puryear. Brother Les and his lovely wife Debbie were worn out this year as they kept vigil at the Small Church Impact booth in the exhibit area. I also introduced Brother Les to a person that I know personally and have worked with in the past. This person would be a huge asset to small church pastors and I do pray that Brother Les and he could work out a way for his services to be offered at the Small Church Impact Conference.

What do I see as the future of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina? I see a bright future. Our Baptist Children’s Homes are doing outstanding jobs. Our Missions outreach is one of phenomenal growth. When I arrived home today my mail contained an envelope from Baptist Men. There are thirteen, count them, 13 various Missions opportunities for churches to participate. If you desire to do missions the BSCNC has made it available. Also, we are planning a state-wide event called Operation Inasmuch. This event will be a local missions outreach endeavor for the local church. If all of the churches in NC will participate in this event, can you imagine the impact for the cause of Christ? Our church planting is increasing like never before. I believe the BSCNC will see her best days.

The doom and gloom that some will present is to be expected. However, I believe that the BSCNC will prosper with the good Hand of God leading her as we reach a lost and dying world.

There’s an old saying that I heard growing up; “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” This saying was a redneck way of referencing the opera. It seemed that all operas had rather large ladies to sing their closing song. Therefore when you saw this large lady walking on stage and begin with that soprano voice, you knew the opera was closing. This was the final farewell and you could rest assured that you were leaving and would not return for that opera again.

This is what I would like to ask about the WMU-NC and the BSCNC; Has the fat lady sang? Is there no way that the two can sit back down at the table and negotiate some way to resolve this stalemate? There are Godly people on both sides in this situation and it does seem that we should be Christian and adult enough to resolve this difference of opinion.

I was at the meeting this past Tuesday evening when information was given out about our situation. I met Mrs. Ruby Fullbright and others in the WMU-NC leadership. All of the ladies impressed me as being Godly women who desire to see God’s will accomplished. Mrs. Fullbright sought me out and introduced herself to me. I was very impressed with her as she was very pleasing and easy to speak with. She encouraged me with my blogging efforts and we shared a couple of laughs. As I listened to her address the group I remember thinking as she spoke; she is very articulate and certainly conveyed what she felt those present needed to hear. While Dr. Brian Davis answered questions he referred various ones to Mrs. Fullbright because it pertained specifically to WMU-NC’s position.

Various reports about this meeting seemed to imply that this meeting was put together by mean old preachers that wanted to kick the WMU out of the BSCNC. Mrs. Fullbright, along with a former Executive Director/Treasurer of BSCNC and even representatives from our universities made their way to East Taylorsville Baptist Church. I believe they were pleasantly surprised when they were received as they were and were asked and even received well when they addressed various issues. Some of the information was new and some information received was already old news. I know that the WMU at the ministry I serve was very pleased they were in attendance.

Some of the issues that I found at the meeting is something I would like to address here. Mrs. Fullbright was able to respond to various concerns and some I agreed with while others I do disagree. First, is the decision to distinguish between Evangelism and Ministry. She pointed out that evangelism was a part of their focus but they were more focused on ministry than church planting. I disagree with her assessment of this because she basically presented a point that it is okay to evangelize but their emphasis was not starting new churches. I agree with the need to evangelize and use ministry opportunities in this endeavor. However, if we are going to evangelize, why not partner with the Mission Growth and Evangelism department of the BSCNC? Mrs. Fullbright gave the impression that WMU-NC desired to be in this by themselves.

One other thing that she said that raises a concern for me is that appearance of this move. Mrs. Fullbright clearly stated that the WMU-NC was not leaving the BSCNC they were merely changing addresses. I certainly do not desire to dispute her assessment and only she can tell you the heart of the WMU-NC. Brother David MacEachern passionately stated that the appearance of this move says differently. While I do not believe Mrs. Fullbright’s or anyone associated with WMU-NC has any intention of leaving the BSCNC, I must admit I have to agree with Brother David. This move screams that we are leaving and we do not desire for BSCNC to hold us accountable in any way.

Why would I say this? It comes down to the reason for leaving. Mrs. Fullbright stated that the reason for the WMU-NC making this decision had to specifically do with the hiring practices that Brother Milton Hollifield interprets. Mrs. Fullbright does not desire to have Brother Milton to sign off on anyone the WMU-NC hires. WMU-NC has their own Personnell Committee, which is different from the BSCNC. That brings me to another question. Why are we duplicating Human Resource departments? This entire move does not have anything to do with missions strategy, theology, or even conservative leadership vs. moderate leadership. This entire move centers around the fact that WMU-NC wants the BSCNC to pay their employess, issue them the same benefits as BSCNC, and give them space to operate, but does not want them signing off on who gets hired. Even Dr. Roy Smith, who was at the meeting, confessed he had to sign-off on who was hired by the WMU-NC.

After assessing this meeting, I confess there was one item that concerned me greatly. Mrs. Fullbright was asked; “The BSCNC has made it clear that they have not left the negotiating table. Would the WMU-NC return to the table to work out these differences instead of leaving the building?” Mrs. Fullbright responded that she could not say what they would be able to do. That was a decision of their Executive Committee. She pointed out that she is a hired employee and that she would defer to their Executive Committee. My concern stems from the fact that as Executive Director she has the authority to return to the negotiating table. She cannot make any decisions at the table, just as Brother Milton Hollifield cannot make any decisions to stop any funds going to WMU-NC. These decisions must be made by their respective Executive Committee’s. However, there is one small hick-up with BSCNC. When the BSCNC Executive Committee decides anything, they must make it in the form of a motion to the Board of Directors. When the BoD make a decision it must come in the form of a motion to the convention in annual session. For the WMU-NC it only comes as a discussion before their Executive Committee and these 30 women decide for the entire state WMU. No one else gets a vote.

Which brings me to my orginal question. Has the fat lady sang? As far as the WMU-NC it appears she has finished singing and sat down, because they do not appear to have a desire to return and work out differences. That is extremely sad.

Very Much indeed!

In North Carolina we are one of the very few state conventions that have cooperated together with churches that support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Have I agreed with everything the state convention leadership has done? Not really. Have we tried to cooperate with the leadership at our schools and other entities? Certainly, we have.

Brief History

North Carolina has a unique set-up as to the appointments for various committees. On the national level our SBC President has appointive powers solely. In North Carolina the President and the Vice Presidents serve as a committee nominating, not appointing, persons to serve on the Committee on Committees and Committee on Enrollment to the Board of Directors for their approval. Therefore when you elect a President in North Carolina the task is not complete until you also elect as least one conservative Vice President. These two should be able to get conservatives elected to the Committee on Committees and once that happens the Committee on Committees will in turn nominate the Committee on Nominations. The Committee on Nominations is responsible for nominating the persons for the various Boards that serve our agencies and the Board of Directors (Convention Trustees). In the Board of Directors for the convention there are various committees, called groups. It is in this Board of Directors that change can be implemented. However, the real catalyst for change lies within the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is made up of the President and both Vice Presidents of the convention along with the President, Vice President, and Secretary that are elected by the Board of Directors and also other Chairpersons of various committees and groups of the Board of Directors.

North Carolina was firmly in the hands of moderates until 1996. It was during that year we elected Dr. Greg Mathis and Dr. Kenneth Riddings as President and 1st Vice President respectively. However, though we had a conservative majority in the officers, we still had a moderate majority in the Board of Directors. Dr. Mike Queen served as President of the Executive Committee, thus Dr. Greg Mathis had to be careful about his nominations because the Board of Directors could over-ride his nomination with nominations of their own. When Dr. Mathis was elected it was called the Greg and Mike show. And show they did. Dr. Mathis proved the old adage that conservatives are mean and uncooperative was not true. Dr. Mathis worked well with all of the moderates and as a result of working with them North Carolina elected Dr. Mac Brunson as President and Dr. Mike Cummings as 1st Vice President. When Dr. Brunson went to First Dallas with over a year left on his term, Dr. Mike Cummings stepped up and continued working with moderates in order to accomplish a stated objective–return North Carolina to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Today in North Carolina

We are in a situation where many of those who disagree with the direction of the BSCNC are pulling out of the convention. This situation would not be so bad if it did not affect the very agencies that we all have supported for years. The agencies of the convention do not have a majority of trustees that agree with the direction of the convention, thus they are making noise to leave. Those who lead these agencies know that North Carolina Baptist at large will not agree to enter into a court battle. Neither do I believe we should. The agencies and institutions appear to be using this to their advantage. They are changing charters, without the knowledge or approval of the convention, and then requesting to choose their own trustees. If the convention votes not to allow them to choose their own trustees then they will leave anyway and say they have the legal authority to do so because their charter was changed. This is basically what happened with the Baptist Retirement Homes of NC (BRHNC). We are still trying to work out an alternative with this institution. This group changed their charter after the 2005 convention and then informed the BSCNC in 2006 that they would be choosing their own trustees. When it was investigated, it was revealed the institution had already changed their charter to choose their own trustees. They changed this charter because the 2005 Nominating Committee rejected some trustee nominations because they were in churches that were affiliated with and promoted the Alliance of Baptist. I do not know if the Nominating Committee’s actions affected any trustees for the BRHNC, but that is one area discussed in the debate at the convention. From my vantage point I see the leadership of BSCNC trying hard to cooperate with all of the agencies and institutions, but some are just not willing to cooperate.

The Baptist schools have already moved away from the BSCNC. We are told that it is not a divorce, as some here say it is not. However, Dr. Bruce Martin a conservative in our state disagrees here. Our universities worked out a deal with the Executive Leadership Team of NCBSC and thus they will be choosing their own trustees after three years. Our budgeted level of giving to these institutions will decrease each year accordingly.

Women’s Missionary Union-NC

We have seen this coming for the past 16 months. It first began with WMU-NC desiring a change in the term used to describe their relationship with the convention. They desired to change the term from “auxiliary” to “cooperative partner“. You can read here, here, here, and here, for the coverage of this issue. While I know the WMU-NC had every legal right to do what they did, I only question the ethics of such a move. Ladies in my church complained to me that they did not see anything like this move coming.

Where Does this Leave Us?

We are in a situation in North Carolina that seems to be where some conservatives desired to be back in 1996. I remember at a Conservative Carolina Baptist meeting in the fall of 1996 Dr. Greg Mathis, candidate for President, answered many questions from those present. In that meeting the late Dr. Mark Corts settled the minds of many who desired to leave and begin another convention in the state. There were some that kept this threat until there was another giving plan established in the budget. When this giving plan became reality the call to begin another convention fell on deaf ears.

What has been gained by conservatives for their years of struggles and tongue biting in order to cooperate? When the moderates were in leadership we were told to stay with it because it is better to cooperate than to try and leave. We cooperated and sent our children to schools that taught much of what we did not agree but knew that one day we would be able to implement, through the trustee system, a more balanced teaching. We cooperated and sent our aging parents to BRHNC only to find out that our retirement homes do not belong to Baptist. We cooperated and listened to the ladies in our church promote an organization that has systematically made changes that placed the power in the hands of 30 women. Now these ladies we heard promote WMU-NC are asking how decisions could be made like this without including them.

Conservatives have accomplished what we set out to accomplish–move BSCNC back to support of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are also heading toward more support being given to Southern Baptist through the CPMG. However, there seems to be unrest with those agency and institutions that are still affiliated with us. They change their charters and leave and then paint our leadership as the ones unreasonable. Exactly where do we find ourselves? We are now in a position that we need to either fish or cut bait. The kind of fish we have been catching, as we cast a wider net, is mainly sting rays. They travel so gracefully and look so beautiful in their element, but will send a shard through your heart when you least expect.