RALEIGH, N.C. – Reconciliation topped the agenda of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s annual general assembly March 23-24, as worship services and workshops explored the organization’s role in enhancing Christian unity.
“The division of the church is out of step with the prayer of our Lord ‘that they all may be one,’ ” Baptist World Alliance general secretary Neville Callam told participants gathered at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Callam’s plea to “live into God’s gift of unity” was expressed in a pair of keynote addresses at the two-day meeting, which also featured adoption of a $1.5 million budget and a progress report on a five-year process to revise the CBFNC’s vision and values statement.
In addition, the organization elected new officers and initiated plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2014.
The 2012-2013 budget of $1,546,046 provides a way for about 365 affiliated churches to support CBFNC ministries over the next year. The budget is a component of a larger Mission Resource Plan which allows congregations to channel additional funds – expected to be about $2.3 million in the upcoming budget year – to a variety of benevolent, educational, advocacy and other agencies.
Though the budget is slightly lower than the current $1,591,242 allocation, financial contributions remain steady, said moderator-elect Ray Ammons, who presented the budget plan.
“Last year was the second best year [of financial contributions] for CBFNC,” said Ammons, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C. “The year before was the best.”
Executive coordinator Larry Hovis said contributions from churches – which provide about 98 percent of revenues – are critical but need to be supplemented by gifts from individuals. A newly-launched “20/20 Campaign” – celebrating the past 20 years and anticipating the next 20 – will encourage individual as well as congregational contributions.
“Our bylaws say we are an organization of individuals, not churches,” said Hovis. “We have not really cultivated the individual-giving aspect. In the next 20 years individual contributors will be an important component in our giving.”
A process to revise the CBFNC’s vision and values statement began in 2007 when the coordinating council appointed a task force to examine the current statement, which dates to the early 1990s and is based on national CBF documents.
Reaction to a draft document presented at a series of listening sessions in 2010 became lively when some participants questioned the replacement of references to Baptist principles with language – including the Apostle’s Creed — which identified the CBFNC more closely with the larger Christian church.
A revised document, based on feedback from the listening sessions, was presented to the coordinating council in April 2011. After a year of “reflection,” the council has decided to recommend no changes in the organization’s current identity statement, Ammons told the general assembly.
But “this is a journey that continues,” said Ammons, and the council has:
- Authorized CBFNC staff and other leaders to develop a section on the CBFNC’s web site “that contains Christian and Baptist identity resources for churches and individuals to use as they seek to express their own identity.”
- Agreed to “continue this conversation with more conferences and workshops that will enable people in our fellowship to explore this topic.”
Donna Bissette, a self-described “professional volunteer” and member of Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., was elected to a second term as CBFNC moderator. Also elected were several new members of the coordinating and other councils, and three new representatives on the national CBF coordinating council: Darryl Aaron, pastor of First Baptist Church (Highland Avenue) in Winston-Salem; Christopher Ingram, pastor of First Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, N.C.; and Alicia Porterfield, an ordained minister and member of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C.
Hovis announced the creation of celebration and vision teams to begin an 18-month planning process to observe the CBFNC’s 20th anniversary in 2014.
“God is just getting started with us and God has great things in store for us in the future,” said Hovis. “I’m excited about writing that next chapter.”
Robert Dilday ([email protected]) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.