N.C. Baptists pare budget by $5M, focus on priorities

Baptist Press
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Posted: Nov 12, 2009 5:45 PM
GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)--North Carolina Baptists approved a budget $4.8 million smaller than 2009, while increasing the percentage of Cooperative Program funds forwarded to ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention during their Nov. 9-11 annual meeting in Greensboro.

Attendance of 2,055 messengers and guests was 13 percent below the previous year, which was itself the smallest meeting since 1956.

Ed Yount, pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, was elected BCNC president, with Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, elected as first vice president, both without opposition.

In the only contested election, C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, was elected second vice president over Ray Davis, pastor of Forbush Baptist Church, with 53 percent of the vote.

Yount has been first vice president of the convention and Harris second vice president for the past year.

Yount, a North Carolina pastor for 30 years, holds an M.Div. degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His son Eddie is pastor of Mount Hebron Baptist Church in Taylorsville.

Messengers adopted for the second year numerous, although minor, changes in the convention's articles and bylaws. Structurally, nine committees have been reduced to four and the terms of service for all will be three years, rather than varying between four and one.

Messengers also finalized the change in relationship with Baptist Retirement Homes, now defining the entity's new status with the convention as "historical social services institution," indicating a former cooperative relationship.

Since 2005 when Baptist Retirement Homes exercised a provision of the articles to begin naming its own trustees in exchange for gradual elimination of CP support, relationships between BRH and the convention have been strained. BRH received tentative approval of their action by the BSC executive committee. But upon review by the convention's lawyer, the action was deemed a "severance" of relationship. The articles provide for a severance process and BRH was asked to start over to follow the process more precisely. They refused, saying they already had approval for their action from the BCNC executive committee, and nearly four years of study, dialog and some acrimony ensued. BRH has been receiving no CP funds for two years and North Carolina started a new non-residential ministry to aging adults, called North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM).

Articles and bylaws changes also eliminated the positions of recording secretary and assistant recording secretary, since modern video recording equipment provides accurate recording of proceedings. Reporting the proceedings for the BSC Annual Report will be done by the executive board's secretary.

North Carolina Baptists increased the percentage of Cooperative Program gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention by one-half percentage point -- the fifth consecutive year marking an increase. The division of their $34.8 million budget is 65.5 percent for North Carolina ministries, 34.5 percent for SBC causes, with no preferred items isolated before that division is made.

The budget is the first since 1991 without optional giving plans. North Carolina had four giving plans with different allocation formulas that a church could choose from and still have gifts count as Cooperative Program gifts.

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Messengers instructed the budget committee last year to revert to a single plan.

Budget committee chairman Steve Hardy, missions pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, said the budget process included dealing with decreasing income, incorporating a new ministry group in the staff structure, eliminating recipients that were in alternate plans, calculating the budget position of recipients from the several giving plans into one and providing increases to convention priorities.

"When people ask you about the budget, I want you to say we are prioritizing three things," Hardy said in his presentation: "more money to our Southern Baptist ministry partners; evangelism; and church planting."

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina receipts from churches trails 2008 by $1.6 million or 5.7 percent through October. This will mark the fifth year of the past seven that income has been lower than the preceding year. The 2010 budget is the smallest since 2000.

In a meeting marked by unity and admonition to reach the lost, no motions were introduced and the only resolution was one of appreciation for host city and venue.

Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 8-10 at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.

Norman Jameson is editor of the Biblical Recorder (www.biblicalrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of North Carolina.

Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net