Church leaders gathered at Shandon Baptist Church Nov. 6 for the annual South Carolina Baptist Pastors Conference.
Bruce Price, pastor of Buffalo Baptist Church in Blacksburg and president of this year’s Pastors Conference, developed the conference theme of “Renewal” from Psalm 51:10-12. Price said his two goals for the conference were to encourage pastors who had experienced serious discouragement and to challenge pastors who had lost their zeal in ministry.
Price said program participants accomplished both goals. Since the conference occurred only one day after the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, speakers and attendees prayerfully had the victims of the atrocity on their hearts.
Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, opened the morning session by preaching from Ezekiel 3. He urged pastors to follow Ezekiel’s example by devoting themselves to the prophetic Word.
Hollingsworth also encouraged pastors to find refreshment through the sweetness of the Word (Ezekiel 3:8). Referring to the recent 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Hollingsworth pointed to Martin Luther’s commitment to the Word. “I think we’re living in reformation days again,” he noted. “We cannot compromise the Word of God.”
Mike Hamlet of First Baptist North Spartanburg finished the morning session. The current spiritual climate in the United States, Hamlet said, presents Christians with opportunities to speak truth into deep spiritual darkness. He challenged pastors to find renewal in the passion, plan, and principles one finds in Romans 12. Hamlet concluded his sermon by giving a powerful testimony showing how God uses personal experiences to rekindle spiritual passion.
D.J. Horton of The Mill church in Spartanburg opened the afternoon session. Preaching from Galatians 6:11-15, he challenged pastors to think carefully about what counts in ministry. For Paul, inward transformation matters — outward conformity does not. Inward transformation happens through ministries that keep the cross of Christ central.
Clint Pressley of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., then preached from John 3:22-36. Pressley sought to answer the question: “How can a person find contentment in failure even as others succeed?” John the Baptist could find joy and contentment as his career was ending because he trusted in the wisdom of God’s sovereignty (John 3:29-30). With this attitude, one “can walk through hard things … and even take joy in hard things.”
Herb Reavis Jr. of North Jacksonville Baptist Church closed the afternoon session by preaching from Luke 5:27-31. He challenged pastors to follow Christ’s example in reaching out to an outcast. Celebrating the joy and miracle of salvation maintains one’s thrill for ministry.
Michael Bryant, executive vice president of Charleston Southern University, asked speakers about a wide variety of topics in ministry during an evening discussion panel.
During the final session, Mac Brunson of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, preached from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, urging pastors to find encouragement in the fact that Jesus is returning majestically and powerfully. Brunson traced the theme of encouragement through 1 Thessalonians 3-5, culminating in Paul’s teaching about the second coming. Schuyler Peterson concluded the service by reading Psalm 51.
Chris Ellenburg of First Baptist North Spartanburg led the music for the conference. Joyful Sound of North Greenville University sang in the morning and afternoon sessions, and a combined choir from First Baptist North Spartanburg and Shandon Baptist Church sang during the evening session.
Bennie Durham, chaplain for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, will serve as president of the 2018 Pastors Conference. Schuyler Peterson of Southside Baptist Church in Spartanburg was voted president-elect, and Chad Campbell of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Easley was elected treasurer.
— Russell Freeman is pastor of Warrior Creek Baptist Church in Gray Court.