The Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, meeting Oct. 6 at Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Columbia, has approved changing the upcoming annual meeting from two days to one, taking precautions precipitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Board, with Albert Allen presiding as chairman, adopted a motion to condense the 2020 annual meeting presented by SCBC President Josh Powell. He asked the Executive Board to endorse a “collective recommendation from the executive director-treasurer, his executive team, the elected officers of the convention, members of the Order of Business Committee, and the officers of the Executive Board.”
The 2020 SCBC annual meeting now will convene at 9 a.m. on Tues., Nov. 10, at First Baptist Church, Columbia, under the theme “Legacy,” and will conclude that evening.
The board also approved a second motion authorizing the following leaders to be empowered to make decisions in the event of a last-minute cancellation or postponement of the annual meeting: the president, first vice president, second vice president and president-elect; chair and vice chair of the Executive Board; chair of the Order of Business Committee; and the executive director-treasurer.
“It’s important to meet — we need to meet — but the meeting will look different than last year,” said Powell, who also requested that messengers register immediately to help with meeting preparations.
In other news, board members unanimously approved a proposed $26.5 million Cooperative Program ministry plan for 2021 — a decrease of $1.5 million from the previous budget — which was presented by Budget, Finance & Audit Committee Chair Allen Nates.
The committee also reported that 60 SCBC churches are new contributors to the Cooperative Program this year, and that overall giving is on track to meet 2020 budget needs.
Board members heard a summary of the 2020 ADVANCE highlights from Priority Advancement Committee Chair Ron Henderson and Jay Hardwick, assistant executive-director and chief strategist. They shared how South Carolina Baptists have worked to “Advance Anyway” in the face of COVID-related obstacles, as have convention staff in their work alongside churches.
The STRONG Team launched www.hopeforchurches.org as a resource engine for churches in the process of revitalizing or restarting, trained 70 percent of SCBC associations and their leadership in revitalization coaching, and announced Charleston Southern University as the new location for SummerSalt and KidSalt, beginning Summer 2021.
The SERVE Team reported that Heart4Schools had grown to at least 320 partnerships in the state, assisted 148 churches with Serve Community Aid grants, and reported more than 12,000 Disaster Relief volunteer hours were served.
The SHARE Team celebrated 10,616 salvations and baptisms in SCBC churches last year, one church in the Saturate coaching process is tripling its baptisms in 2020, and Baptist Collegiate Ministries saw 294 salvations, 930 students mobilized, and engaged nearly 20,000 students.
The SEND Team launched the Palmetto Collective with 20 students in the pilot group, equipped 25 multi-ethnic pastors and leaders, and saw 35 missions pastors/churches engaged in SEND Collaboratives.
The START Team assisted 21 new churches in South Carolina with funding, conducted three virtual assessment retreats and the first Hispanic church planter assessment retreat, and saw 23 pastors and two DOMs participate in the Grand Strand Multiplying Church Summit.
“This is what you’re doing in your churches, ministries and communities, advancing the gospel where you are. God is doing exciting things in our state,” Hardwick said.
Board members heard Advance Strategy plans for the next five years, designed to help churches fulfill the Great Commission. Hardwick outlined major goals to be measurable church advancement of the gospel through at least 10 percent of churches, an increase in the number of baptisms from 10,000 to 15,000 annually by the year 2025, and for Cooperative Program giving to reach $30 million by 2025.
“It’s not about seeing numbers increased for the sake of institution, but as the fuel for everything we do. It’s not for the sake of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, but so that the vision would come to life of seeing individuals transformed by the hope of the gospel,” Hardwick said.
Chief Administrative Officer Scott Lee updated the board on the work of the Operations Committee, which included staffing announcements and building upgrades. Lee also shared that he is in discussions with several parties interested in the purchase of White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro.
The board also heard ministry partner reports from President Evans Whitaker of Anderson University and President Tom Tucker with South Carolina Baptist Ministries of Aging.
In his address, Executive Director-Treasurer Gary Hollingsworth spoke to the “uncharted territory” accompanying this season of ministry, but that “we have a destination. We are going somewhere and advancing the cause of the gospel despite the situation we are in, and I’m glad we’re going together.”
— Julia Bell is a writer for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.