South Carolina Baptists have been gracious to afford me the time necessary to move slowly through the state, building relationships, praying for wisdom, and asking questions. In traveling the state these past five months, the Lord has planted several priorities in my heart — the first of which I would like to share with you today in the way of announcing a few internal staff changes.
Daily, at the front of my mind and in the softest places of my heart rests the beauty of our state’s ethnic diversity — most notably, the 1.4 million African Americans, 26.5 percent of our population, who bear the image of God, are full of dignity and worthy of respect, and help make the Palmetto State more appropriately reflect the rich diversity of God’s magnificent creativity. Our population is currently 6.8 percent Hispanic and 1.4 percent Asian. Both of those numbers are growing, and S.C. Baptists are currently doing a great work among them in evangelism, church planting, and missions. This is cause for our rejoicing! May God continue bringing the nations to South Carolina for our missional engagement and for our cultural enrichment. Hallelujah!
At the same time, we must acknowledge that South Carolina owns a deep and troubling history in race relations, primarily between Anglos and African Americans. Even our own convention has at times, in the annals of history, worked in opposition to God’s heart for healthy ethnic diversity. It makes my heart glad to hear and see how we have made strides in the right direction over the past five-to-10 years. But, as many have reinforced to me in conversations across the state, much work remains to be done. For this reason, I am excited to announce that Michael Pigg, currently SHARE Team Leader for S.C. Baptists, will begin Sept. 1 as our director of African American Engagement. He will work directly with me in the executive office. Michael’s primary responsibilities will be (1) to travel the state, building relationships with African American church leaders and within communities that reflect a high population of African Americans, and (2) to be a voice of wisdom and counsel to me and the rest of our staff when praying, planning, and preparing for African American engagement.
Michael has served with the convention for two years, leading our SHARE (evangelism) team. Early in his ministry, he pastored Central Baptist Church — a historic African American church — in Charleston, where he saw the Lord do a miraculous work in both revitalization and racial reconciliation. He also led the church to cooperate with South Carolina Baptists for the first time in their history. While he has served on our staff, he has naturally taken on the responsibilities to which I am now officially appointing him. Having done this organically and voluntarily these past two years, Michael has built healthy relationships with many across the state and has also come to be respected nationally as a voice of reason, with biblical wisdom and convictional kindness, in African American engagement and race relations. As I have prayed, sought counsel, and considered many options, the Lord has made it clear to me that this position is vital to our future Great Commission cooperation in South Carolina. He has also made it clear that Michael Pigg is the man he has called to help us lean into this season with new anticipation.
Allow me to make you aware of three additional staff changes:
Lee Clamp, chief strategic officer, will take on the official position of associate executive director-treasurer. These past five months, Lee has set me up for success in more ways than I can count. He is one of the most strategically minded men I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and he has faithfully and sacrificially poured himself into the success of S.C. Baptist churches and partnerships since God called him to vocational ministry right here in the Palmetto State so many years ago. He is well respected as an evangelistic, strategic, catalyzing leader among S.C. Baptists. Lee will continue to give oversight to our ministry priorities team and will begin to assist me more officially in matters of whole-convention strategy, communication, structure, and leadership.
Bryant Sims, director of Denominational Relations, will take the position of chief operations officer. Bryant has demonstrated himself vital to the proper and smooth functioning of all our committees, boards, and convention operations. He works hard to provide informed and devoted service to our convention officers. Bryant has proven that his administrative acumen is as invaluable to our team as his pastor’s heart. He will continue to be an extension of my voice in state and national denominational relations but will add to his responsibilities more aspects of our internal operations.
Chad Stillwell, Collegiate Ministry director, will step into the position of SHARE team leader, vacated by Michael Pigg’s new assignment. He will continue to give oversight to BCM and Collegiate Ministry but will also provide direction and supervision to the entire SHARE team. Melanie Ratcliffe will also take on more official responsibility within the SHARE team as Relational Evangelism director. Melanie is a passionate, called, and capable evangelist, burdened for the lost and daily engaged in the work of strengthening churches to reach their neighbors with the gospel.
Structural changes in their department will allow them to surround themselves with more gifted and called evangelists across the state who are active and respected in the work of evangelism. I have witnessed firsthand that Chad is a personal evangelist, a thoughtful leader, a strategic thinker, and a team player. The churches and our staff will be well served under Chad’s leadership of the SHARE team.
Your convention staff considers it a high honor, every day, to facilitate your Great Commission cooperation in our shared mission to reach South Carolinians with the gospel, disciple them in the faith, and mobilize them to reach their neighbors and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God be so kind as to “establish the work of our hands.”
For the Churches,
Tony Wolfe, Executive Director-Treasurer
South Carolina Baptist Convention