Messengers approve task force to chart SCBC focus

South Carolina Baptist Convention messengers Nov. 14 approved the creation of a Seeking the Kingdom Task Force to begin determining the future focus of the state convention, but not without some discussion.

SCBC president Brad Atkins announced in early November his desire to appoint the task force, which would be charged with crafting a ministry concept and plan that will guide the future work of the state convention and its churches.

Experience Kingdom Life is the SCBC’s current ministry focus and is slated to end in December 2013.

During the Wednesday morning business session on Nov. 14, Atkins asked first vice president Brad Kelley to preside over discussion of a motion to empower Atkins to appoint the task force. The motion was offered by Jon Davis, pastor of Summit Church, Charleston Association, during Tuesday morning’s business session.

Atkins elaborated on his reasons for wanting to appoint the task force. “The South Carolina Baptist Convention needs to have a compelling vision – [to] rally behind as we had under Empowering Kingdom Growth – and Experience Kingdom Life,” he said.

Atkins told messengers the task force “doesn’t replace any governance” of the Executive Board, institution trustees or staff, local church leadership or any ministries of the SCBC. He said each entity “will have to interpret the vision and principles” offered by the task force, whose recommendations will be subject to approval by SCBC messengers.

Atkins said he hopes the task force will build on the “principles of the Cooperative Program” and the “mandates” of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

Naveen Balakrishnan, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church, Adams Run, spoke in opposition to the motion and expressed concern that the task force would bypass the Executive Board’s and the executive director-treasurer’s “duty of casting the vision” for the state convention. “This is contrary to established pattern,” he said.

SCBC executive director-treasurer Jim Austin said he appreciated Balakrishnan’s perspective, but said he had “no problem with how this is framed” and that the task force would not “usurp authority from the Executive Board or other boards.”

With no further discussion, a majority of messengers approved the motion by a show of ballots.

The Seeking the Kingdom Task Force will consist of 40 members, including former SCBC presidents, convention officers, SCBC executive leaders, institution leaders, pastors and WMU leaders. For a more complete list of task force members, visit