White Oak Conference Center sale still not finalized

The sale of the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro, originally scheduled for closing on Sept. 30, has not yet taken place.

Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, told The Courier that the buyer, which seeks to convert White Oak into a public charter school, is still awaiting approval of a federal loan.

“Wheels turn slowly in Washington,” said Hollingsworth. “We are in a holding pattern until that happens.”

White Oak, which has been operated by the state convention since 1979, is slated for purchase by Midlands STEM Institute for $5.4 million. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Midlands STEM Institute is authorized by the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

The SCBC Executive Board voted in April 2016 to sell White Oak, citing underuse of the facility by SCBC churches, the cost of subsidizing the facility’s annual operations ($600,000 each year), and deferred maintenance costs of up to $4 million.

White Oak Conference Center includes 140 motel-style rooms, a 400-seat dining hall, 23 classrooms, an auditorium/gymnasium with a capacity of 850, a 230-seat lecture hall, a lake, swimming pool and other facilities.