Executive Board welcomes Wolfe, thanks Hollingsworth

Members of the Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention welcomed newly elected Executive Director-Treasurer Tony Wolfe and celebrated outgoing EDT Gary Hollingsworth during their April 25 meeting in Columbia.

In his first address to the board, Wolfe thanked members for serving as messengers of the churches.

“When the churches get the win, Christ gets the glory,” Wolfe said. “What we do in South Carolina is also a biblically effective model of cooperative ministry.”

Wolfe further invited board members to engage with state convention staff, saying, “Our goal is transparency because we want you to have confidence.” He encouraged members to always advocate for churches and advance the gospel in their daily lives, because South Carolina Baptists are “uniquely positioned by God to work together to reach our neighbors and the nations for Christ.”

Executive Board Chair Steve Hogg expresses appreciation to Gary Hollingsworth,
left, who officially retired on April 30, for his eight years of service as executive director-treasurer. (Photo by Jay Overbay)

The board heard a report from Budget, Finance & Audit Committee Chair Talmadge Tobias, who said that annual audits made on the convention and several institutions were clean. He noted that Cooperative Program giving is 5 percent below giving from this time last year and 3 percent under budget.

During the BF&A report, the board also approved a motion to create a scholarship fund to sponsor reduced group travel expenses to Israel for South Carolina Baptist pastors and their wives. A limited number of trips will soon be offered by an outside tour company, and this scholarship will only be available to individuals participating in the tour who have never traveled to the Holy Land. The board affirmed the funding as a reflection of the convention’s commitment to relationship building and recognized the experience’s potential to affect a pastor’s impact in the local church.

In other committee news, Kingdom Advancement Committee Chair Doug Mize shared ministry celebrations — including Cooperative Program giving stories, ethnic church plants, and updates from associations. Priority Advancement Committee Chair Stephen Cutchins reported that his team continues to move forward with the planning framework and noted areas where God is at work in South Carolina such as through Heart4Schools. Operations Committee Chair Tim Coker announced the approval of fund requests his committee received from five different ministry areas.

Several ministry partners greeted the board, including North Greenville University President Gene Fant, who said while S.C. Baptist institutions are faced with a variety of “outside voices and unelected regulators,” they are “blessed to be in alignment with the gospel itself that unifies us.” Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries President and CEO Danny Nicholson reported that the organization is three years into its Decade of Dreams emphasis, is working to secure a Charleston location, and announced a bluegrass festival fundraising event.

The board recognized Charleston Southern University President Dondi Costin, who will become the new president of Liberty University prior to the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year. Costin thanked the board for welcoming him during his time at Charleston Southern. “This has been a joy in all kinds of ways,” Costin said.

State Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director-Treasurer Jess Archer thanked the board for their churches’ faithful giving to state missions and support of WMU ministries and announced plans for increased social media presence and a new website.

Board members also heard inspiring stories of life change through South Carolina Baptist ministries from Chief Strategic Officer Lee Clamp. “These stories represent an incredible staff of missionaries who steward moments, map plans for churches to advance, and help pastors climb the mountain God has invited them to climb,” he said.

President Albert Allen invited the board to attend the 2023 Annual Meeting Nov. 13-14 at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia.

— Julia Bell is a writer for SCBC Communications.