Guest Viewpoint: Let’s ‘Unite’ for missions, revival

The theme of the 197th annual meeting of the South Carolina Baptist Convention this year is Unite! In light of all that is going on in our world, there could not be a more appropriate theme!

President Keith Shorter has cast a vision for this year’s convention being more of a mission focus than just a meeting. On Tuesday afternoon, messengers will scatter around Columbia to serve the city in the name of Jesus. Please be in prayer for this “One Day” mission opportunity — that people will be served and the gospel will be shared.

In addition to worship, testimonies, fellowship and reports, our annual meeting is the one time we get together as a convention of churches to conduct the important business of the work of the convention. As your executive director-treasurer, I want to take this opportunity to share some of the highlights of what to expect from this year’s convention.

On Tuesday evening, reports will be presented from the day’s mission activities, and we will hear a message from Dr. Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. The evening will conclude with what I pray will be the absolute highlight of the convention, as we commission mission teams from all over South Carolina that will be serving around the world in the coming year!

As always, we will also hear reports from our WMU, have a panel discussion from our seven institutional ministry partners, hear glorious music from our South Carolina Baptist Singing Churchmen and our combined university choirs, and hear progress reports regarding our four priorities of evangelism, church strengthening/discipleship, church planting and missions mobilization.

On the business side of convention life, you will receive and approve reports from our standing committees, have a first reading of a proposed bylaw change to be voted on in 2019, affirm the 2018 nominations report, affirm the 2018 budget and hear a very important report from the Executive Board regarding the potential sale of White Oak Conference Center.

Regarding our budget, we are recommending a flat $28 million budget, which is a decrease of $500,000 from our current budget. Much more will be said about this reduction, but please know that this decrease is more of a “right-sizing” based on actual receipts over the past five years. Our commitment is this: While there is a decrease in budget, we are firm that it will not represent a decrease in ministry and services to our churches! Our Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, along with our staff, has done a fabulous job in putting this budget together. By the grace of God, we pray we will soon see Cooperative Program giving begin to trend upward, not downward.

Finally, much prayer, time and energy has gone into the report on White Oak Conference Center. Study groups, task forces and various committees and consultants have been working on this for more than three years, long before my arrival. I am convinced the report you will hear is an answer to years of prayer in terms of what to do about the challenges of maintaining camps and conference centers.

Please plan to bring your maximum number of messengers to this year’s convention. We shall gather at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia Nov. 7-8 in what I pray will not only be a mission opportunity and meeting, but a revival meeting lifting up the name of Jesus!

— Gary Hollingsworth is executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.