SCBC Executive Board holds Dec. meeting, elects officers

Tommy Kelly, pastor of Varnville First Baptist Church, was elected chairman of the Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention at the board’s Dec. 7 winter meeting in Columbia.

Tommy Kelly

Tommy Kelly

Kelly, who served as SCBC president in 2015, will serve with vice chairman Randy Kirby, worship pastor at Simpsonville First Baptist Church, and secretary Cindy Sanders, member of Barnwell First Baptist Church, in leading the 72-member Executive Board, which conducts the business of the state convention while the SCBC is not in session.

In addition to electing officers for the coming year, Executive Board members heard committee and staff reports.

SCBC executive director-treasurer Gary Hollingsworth reported that the sale of the convention’s White Oak Conference Center could happen sooner than expected. The Executive Board entered a 24-month intent-to-sell contract with a group seeking to purchase the main White Oak campus for $5.4 million and convert it to a charter school. Hollingsworth said those discussions and plans continue to progress and that the possibility exists for a closing to happen faster than expected.

“God is at work in this, and I will keep you up to date with everything I know as we move along,” he said.

In other business, Priority Advance Committee chair Jim Schiele updated the board on reports from convention staff leading in the four priority areas of evangelism, missions mobilization, church planting, and church strengthening.

The committee heard about the information gathered at five ADVANCE lunches hosted by the ministry priority leadership team in the fall of 2017. During those lunches, pastors were asked questions about what the barriers in their churches were to “Serving, Sending, Sharing, and Starting.”

The top three barriers in each area were identified, and the ministry priority leadership team has been meeting to determine how to best assist churches in addressing the barriers so that they can be better equipped to fulfill the Great Commission.

Mark A., SCBC associate executive director and chief strategist, shared with the committee, “As we’ve listened to hundreds of leaders across our state share with us the challenges they are facing day in and day out in creating cultures which are ‘outward’ focused, the same barriers keep coming up over and over.”

Schiele went on to explain how the leadership team will differentiate between terms and indicators for these areas of work moving forward — including measuring and tracking progress in goals, objectives, and key result areas. Mark A. reported, “As of today, our four ministry priority teams have completed almost all of their 2017 objectives.” He added, “Though on many fronts this year has been a rebuilding year, our teams have worked diligently in 2017 and are poised to see — we pray, by faith — some very exciting outcomes in 2018 related to kingdom advance in South Carolina Baptist churches.”

The committee pledged to continue working closely with staff, as they are committed to assist pastors and churches until every life is saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel.

Talmadge Tobias, chair of the Budget, Finance, and Audit Committee, reported on the audit subcommittee responsible for receiving reports from convention ministry partners. An outside auditing firm showed clean reports and no deficiencies for completed audits among those institutions. Tobias also reported that projections indicate giving will support the committee’s decisions related to the convention’s budget.

During his report, Hollingsworth affirmed the board’s work of the previous year and the importance of the December meeting. He presented eight new convention staff core values prayerfully developed by the convention’s leadership team, and further discussed in small groups and during staff forum before being finalized. Hollingsworth said his intent was to present the values to the board in December and delve deeper into content during the coming year.

The seven core values are spiritual vitality, authentic relationships, empowered teams, accountable integrity, innovative excellence, kingdom partnerships, and global gospel advance. The named values represent the basic points from which convention staff will be working, including determining ministry approaches moving forward.

“We are in a perfect place with our mission statement, purpose statement, and, now, our core values. I want to be a part of things that we can do and that only God can do. God is putting on our heart a clearly defined strategy of things we can do, and I trust God with the results,” Hollingsworth said to board members.

It was announced that a ministry highlight from one of the four priority focus areas of convention work will be added to board meetings, with the first being from an international church plant in Columbia. SCBC missions mobilization team leader Tim Rice introduced the pastor and ministry leaders from Berea Mission Church, which, he noted, was the first Burmese mission church in the United States. The church presented Hollingsworth with a plaque of appreciation for Berea Church’s 10th anniversary and its partnership with the convention, Columbia First Baptist Church, and Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

Berea Mission Church staff members present a plaque to Gary Hollingsworth.

“On behalf of our South Carolina Baptist family, I receive this with humility and gratitude for our partnership in the gospel. May God bless you with 10 more years and beyond,” said Hollingsworth.

Convention staff members celebrating milestone years of service were also recognized during the meeting. Kristina Bradley, Leisa Butler, and Lee Clamp have served for five years on staff. Kristy Adams, Ron Barker, Barbara Husman, and Denny Newman have completed 10 years of service. Those having served 15 years include Kendal Danford, John Pitzer, and Steve Rohrlack. Lee Douglas was recognized for completing 35 years of service at the convention.

The board will convene again in April at the convention building.

— Julia Bell writes for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.