South Carolina lauded for baptism growth

South Carolina Baptists have been recognized for leading the Southern Baptist Convention in two baptism categories for the Annual Church Profile year 2008-2009. The awards were presented by the North American Mission Board at the annual Summer Senior Leadership Meeting in Atlanta, July 25-29.

Thomas Hammond, left, interim vice president for evangelization for the North American Mission Board, and Jerry Pipes, right, NAMB team leader for spiritual awakening/mass evangelism, present Wayne Terry, associate executive director of the multiplication team for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, with NAMB’s Excellence in Evangelism Award for the convention’s percentage increase in baptisms for 2009.

South Carolina was the only state receiving recognition in both categories of greatest percentage increase in baptisms (19 percent) and greatest numerical increase in baptisms (3,000), said Ron Barker, evangelism and prayer strategist, evangelism team, SCBC.

“Our applause is for South Carolina Baptist churches,” Barker said. “When people are reached for the Lord, they are reached by the local church. South Carolina churches are responding to fulfillment of the Great Commission.”

Barker praised young pastors “who are excited about reaching people” and traditional churches that have “awakened and re-awakened to the need for evangelism.”

“There is a lot of uncertainty in our country, especially with our economy,” Barker said. “People are looking for answers, and many of them are coming back to the local church. South Carolina churches are responding to those needs, and we applaud them.”

While the awards’ reporting period is a year behind, ending in 2009, Barker said South Carolina’s evangelistic momentum continues and is likely increasing.

“We had good immediate reports from our God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) effort after Easter this year,” he said. “GPS is not a program. It’s an effort for all churches, regardless of worship style, to emphasize reaching lost people.”

Also, at NAMB’s summer meeting, South Carolina Baptist Floyd Tidsworth was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for church planting. Tidsworth is a former director of church planting for the Home Mission Board, which later became NAMB. He is also a former NAMB missionary working with the South Carolina Baptist Convention equestrian ministries. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Simpsonville.

More than 500 state convention leaders in church planting, evangelism, missions mobilization and language ministry, working in cooperation with NAMB, gather each summer for the Summer Senior Leadership Meeting. – SCBC