Executive Board approves budget, partnership with East Asia

The Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention approved a $28 million Cooperative Program Budget/Advance Plan and a partnership with East Asia during its Oct. 8 meeting in Columbia.

Budget, Finance & Audit Committee Chair Teresa Garrick presented details of the proposed $28 million budget. Garrett acknowledged that while giving has declined — it’s currently 2 percent behind giving this time last year — the proposed budget was in line with those of the previous four years. The board unanimously approved the budget.

Gary Hollingsworth, SCBC Executive Director-Treasurer, began his report by sharing from the Apostle Paul’s message in 2 Corinthians 11:28, which voices his daily concern for “all the churches.”

Hollingsworth shared opportunities that South Carolina Baptist churches have through the lenses of both concern and hope. Decline in the number of next generation baptisms and decreased missions support were examples Hollingsworth used that cause “deep concern.” He celebrated the 600 SCBC churches reporting an increase in baptisms last year, and board members applauded hearing that 11,583 were baptized.

“We do see a day where every life will be saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel, beginning in South Carolina and extending to the ends of the earth,” he said.

SCBC Associate Executive Director and Chief Strategist Jay Hardwick shared ADVANCE resource and strategy updates. He announced the newly created SERVE team, which will be led by Jon Jamison, former SCBC Compassion Ministry strategist.

The SERVE Team will focus on community engagement ministries that will create new connections in which the hope of the gospel can be shared. These ministries include Heart4Schools, disaster relief, hunger relief, ESL, orphan care, and poverty and benevolence ministries.

Board members heard a report from Ron Henderson, chair of the Priority Advancement Committee, which affirmed expanding the Hunger Relief Fund Distribution Policy to include a new category of Development. Recognizing that offering food alone will not create long-term change, the Development category will focus on long-term, sustainable solutions, including opportunities such as job skills, after-school tutoring and support groups.

A new partnership opportunity with East Asia through the International Mission Board was proposed by Ken Owens, SCBC missions mobilization team leader. The partnership would make South Carolina the first state convention to partner to specifically reach this region with an estimated 1.7 billion people from 198 unreached people groups living there. Owens noted that, of the 500 IMB personnel leading efforts to reach this affinity group, 41 are from South Carolina.

Chair Eddie Bolin made a motion for the Kingdom Advancement Committee to adopt the five-year mission partnership. Formalization will occur with the signing of a partnership agreement at the 2019 annual meeting.

The board will convene again Dec. 12 in Columbia.

— With reporting by Haley Bryant, SCBC Communications.