Dr. Tony Beam wrote an excellent article in the September issue of The Courier in support of the Office of Public Policy. I agree wholeheartedly with what Dr. Beam wrote in terms of the importance of having a presence representing a biblical worldview — and, particularly, a Baptist voice — in legislative matters dealing with morality and spiritual issues.
It is true that due to decreasing Cooperative Program giving, our 2018 budget proposal will reflect a reduction of $500,000. Obviously, some difficult decisions had to be made in order to reach this budget goal. Dr. Beam’s article included this statement: “I pray we will find a way to continue the important work of the Office of Public Policy.” I am writing this article to share the answer to that prayer! It is my intention to retain Joe Mack on a contract basis beginning in January of 2018 so that we will continue to have a strong voice and presence at the South Carolina General Assembly. Dr. Beam mentioned in his article that Joe was our first director of the office, and I can think of no one more qualified to step back into that role.
The budget challenge meant moving from a full-time salaried position to a contract basis, but this seems to be the most prudent and practical solution for the immediate future. Of course, I would add a prayer of my own that we would see a dramatic increase in Cooperative Program giving in the coming days. Nine years ago, CP giving was around $34 million but has been steadily declining to where our CP receipts are now hovering around $28 million. Should our giving get back near those levels, it would once again provide the opportunity to have a full-time presence in the Office of Public Policy.
In the meantime, my pledge to the South Carolina Baptist Convention is that we will steward every penny of CP giving that is entrusted to us to advance the gospel through our four convention priorities of evangelism, missions mobilization, church strengthening/discipleship and church planting.
I just wanted to share the “rest of the story” of how we are going to keep a strong voice in the Office of Public Policy!
Gary Hollingsworth is executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.