SCBC Executive Board approves budget, looks to future of ministry in South Carolina

The South Carolina Baptist Convention’s Executive Board adopted a $28.5 million budget for 2017 at its one-day fall board meeting Oct. 18 in Columbia.

The board meeting was rescheduled from Oct. 10-11 because of a statewide focus on disaster relief following Hurricane Matthew’s landfall Oct. 8. Rescheduling the meeting allowed the board to give up hotel rooms for the night of Oct. 10 for use by evacuees from a Hilton Head nursing home.

The 2017 budget reflects the same amount for the sixth straight year, said Pam Carroll, the convention’s chief financial officer.

Will Browning, chairman of the board’s Budget, Finance & Audit Committee, said he is optimistic that this year “could be the year we meet the budget,” considering 2016 receipts are ahead of last year, when the convention missed its budget by only 1.8 percent.

With the 2016 conclusion of the five-year Great Commission Resurgence budget plan that provided fixed amounts for the convention’s institutional ministry partners and Woman’s Missionary Union, the 2017 budget begins funding those organizations through a percentage of the budget. If the 2017 budget is met, the total disbursement to those organizations would be $149,207 less than the fixed amounts reflected in the 2016 budget.

Concern was expressed about the possible 2017 reduction in the WMU line item by $102, 075, but it was pointed that WMU has the discretion to make up the shortfall from its Janie Chapman Missions Offering.

Browning also reported that the 2017 budget represents an $11.68 million gift through the Cooperative Program to the Southern Baptist Convention (41 percent of anticipated revenues). If the 2017 budget is met, South Carolina Baptists will send an additional $1.2 million directly to IMB by way of a 4.5 percent budget gift.

In other news, the board:

— HEARD a report from executive director-treasurer Gary Hollingsworth that applauded the work of South Carolina Baptist Disaster Relief’s efforts in the response to Hurricane Matthew. While disaster relief work is continuing, Hollingsworth reported 1,092 volunteer days, including almost 80,000 meals served to volunteers, 71 direct contacts with those facing damage in the field, and 32 gospel presentations.

— HEARD a report from Hollingsworth concerning population trends in South Carolina. Currently, there are 4.9 million people living in South Carolina, with a conservative estimate that 2.3 million of those are unsaved. From 2016-2021, South Carolina is expected to grow by nearly 10 people per square mile, which will be 2.5 times the national average.

South Carolina will rank 11th among 50 states and Puerto Rico in terms of future growth. The most significant statistic of all, he said, is that between the years 2016-2021, only two small areas of South Carolina are expected to decrease in population, compared to several larger pockets of decrease in the border states of Georgia and North Carolina.

“What this means for South Carolina Baptists is that we have a great opportunity and obligation before us,” Hollingsworth said. “Approximately 1,100 of our 2,100 churches will have significant population growth within a four-mile radius of their properties. We must prepare now for evangelistic and missional efforts in our communities.”

— HEARD a proposal from a board subcommittee regarding board restructuring following the 2016 decision to shift Administrative Committee responsibilities to the office of the executive director-treasurer, and to better coordinate board organization with a new staff organization being implemented by executive director-treasurer Hollingsworth.

The new plan changes the board’s committees to teams, with a convention staff member assigned for fluid communication and work together. The Administrative Committee will be disbanded, reducing the board teams from five to four, reassigning Administrative Committee members to serve on other board teams. All of the board’s team chairmen, along with the chairman of the Executive Board, would become a Board Advisor Council to the executive director-treasurer.

The board will vote on the subcommittee’s recommendation at its regular December meeting.

— HEARD a report from board chairman Duane Greene regarding conversation and consideration of more specific criteria for churches to be members of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and for pastors and church members to serve in positions of convention leadership.

Currently, convention bylaws allow churches to be a part of the convention if they are in “friendly cooperation,” which is not defined, and through a monetary contribution to the Cooperative Program. That contribution is also not defined. Further, the bylaws allow any convention leader to be nominated from a church that meets the current bylaws criteria.

The convention’s Bylaws Committee, acting on a request from the convention’s Nominations Committee, has asked the Executive Board to consider a bylaws recommendation that will strengthen the criteria for convention membership and leadership appointment.

The board will take up the matter at its December meeting, but a bylaws change could not be introduced until the 2017 annual meeting, with adoption not possible before the 2018 annual meeting.

— HEARD from convention president Tom Tucker regarding the upcoming annual meeting program. The annual meeting is Tuesday-Wednesday, Nov. 15-16, at Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Columbia.

— HEARD reports from leaders at Anderson University, Charleston Southern University and North Greenville University.

— HEARD a report from the Properties Committee regarding expenditures at the convention building, White Oak Conference Center, and the Spartanburg Baptist Collegiate Ministry center.

— HEARD a report from the Planning & Ministries Committee that 2016 baptisms totaled 17,600 and that there are almost 70 church planters representing ethnic diversity throughout South Carolina.

— HEARD a report from the Scholarships Committee that 114 students are receiving a total of $97,100 in church-related vocational scholarships this academic year, and 94 students are receiving a total of $49,400 in Richard Furman scholarships. The committee also reported that it is staying in touch with scholarship recipients to encourage them during the academic year. Interview dates have been set for the 2017-2018 academic year scholarship applications.