UPDATED: SCBC receives approval for CARES grant

The South Carolina Baptist Convention has been approved for grant money made available through the Payroll Protection Plan of the CARES Act, Executive Director-Treasurer Gary Hollingsworth announced April 27.

Earlier, SCBC Executive Board members were informed during their first-ever virtual meeting on April 21 that the state convention had applied for, but did not receive CARES Act grant money in the first round of federal funding. “It is quite likely the funds were gone by the time we could take action,” Hollingsworth told The Courier following the board’s virtual meeting.

The convention’s grant application, however, was kept active for an anticipated second round of federal funding being processed by the Small Business Administration.

Hollingsworth also alerted Executive Board members of a request from one of its university ministry partners for a clear statement of the SCBC’s beliefs on social issues. The SCBC ministry partner had asked for a biblical position statement, given the rapidly changing social landscape, especially in regard to sexual orientation/transgender issues.

“We need a simple statement on who we are, what we believe and where we stand so that people will clearly know it as they approach our institutions or events. It would serve as another layer of defense in the event that we would be challenged,” Hollingsworth explained.

The statement on social issues, which would be in addition to the Baptist Faith and Message and SCBC employee documents, may be presented to the board in October for discussion and approval.

“Should we move forward with such a statement, we hope it will also be something that might serve our other ministry partners and our Executive Board ministries as well,” Hollingsworth told The Courier.

Hollingsworth also informed board members of a recent discovery that some SCBC churches had used the state convention’s tax ID number in a previously undetected and inadvertent action. Moving forward, the SCBC will be working with these churches to help them obtain unique tax ID numbers, he said. 

Conducting all of its business virtually in observing COVID-19 meeting restrictions, board members also heard reports from Hollingsworth and other SCBC staff members and shared ministry updates via video conferencing, presided over by Chairman Albert Allen.

In his report to the board, Hollingsworth likened the pandemic to a storm, saying, “None of this is a surprise to God; He is still sovereign and has not budged. 

“The world will look different, and already does,” he said. “But I believe this storm will accelerate the advancement of the gospel.” 

Budget, Finance & Audit Committee Chair Allen Nates reported that the convention received a clean audit for 2019 from the external audit firm of Capin Crouse.

He also reported that 2019 Cooperative Program giving was down 1 percent from 2018. YTD giving in 2020 through March is also down 1 percent from the prior year.

SCBC Chief Administrative Officer Scott Lee updated the board on the sale of White Oak Conference Center. Despite having been in discussions with interested parties, there currently are no active offers.

A report from the Convention Structure Study Group, an ad hoc committee tasked with reviewing convention structure and processes for effectiveness and efficiency, was referred to the SCBC Bylaws Committee. The Bylaws Committee’s response is expected at the board’s October meeting.

SCBC Associate Executive Director and Chief Strategist Jay Hardwick announced some new resources, including a podcast for SCBC leaders and the creation of www.hopeforchurches.org/, an online source of encouragement for church planters. 

The state convention and the South Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union have made $250,000 available to SCBC churches through COVID-19 Serve Community Aid, a fund established to “aid our churches in meeting the specific needs of their communities in meaningful ways,” Hardwick said. Churches may request up to $1,000 through an online application process, which 33 churches to date have completed. Additional information may be found at www.scbaptist.org/serve-community-aid.

Looking to the SCBC annual meeting this November, President Josh Powell reminded the board of God’s faithfulness through the many crises Baptists have weathered over the years. 

“If there was ever a need to be together to pray and worship, it’s now,” Powell said. “We as a people understand that our mission is what is most important, and as Baptists historically we’ve held tight to those beliefs of cooperating together, educating others and reaching people with the gospel.”

The Executive Board plans to reconvene Oct. 6 in Columbia.

— With reporting by Lara Gopp, SCBC communications.