A restructuring plan for the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina launched yesterday (Aug. 24) as soon as the executive committee of the convention’s board of directors approved the go-ahead in a unanimous vote. The goal for the new structure to be in place is Oct. 1.
Convention executive director Todd Unzicker said in an article released by the convention, “By God’s grace, North Carolina Baptists have a rich history and heritage. Our goal is to support our churches and pastors even better and in greater ways than we ever have before.”
With a goal of prioritizing the needs of the local churches and associations across the state, convention work will be divided into five main groups, according to the convention article. Each group will have a director who reports to Unzicker and the directors were selected from existing staff members. It is unclear how many other employees will continue as part of the convention staff.
State paper’s future
The future of North Carolina’s 188-year-old state Baptist paper, the Biblical Recorder, also is unclear.
Chris Hefner, chair of the paper’s board of directors, told The Baptist Paper that it’s too soon to know what is going to happen to the BR, which currently provides online content, a monthly news magazine and a subscription-based text messaging service for breaking news alerts and regular updates.
“The board is meeting in September and will be evaluating our options going forward,” said Hefner, who also serves as senior pastor for Wilkesboro Baptist Church in North Carolina.
Hefner said in a BR article released today (Aug. 25) that the board’s plans for the BR will be released following the Sept. 13 board meeting.
In that same article as well as an email news blast to BR subscribers this morning, editor Seth Brown announced his upcoming departure from his BR role to accept one of the new convention director positions. His transition is planned for Sept. 27.
“Words cannot express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve North Carolina Baptists through the ministry of the Biblical Recorder. We help churches work together to make disciples of all nations. It has truly been an honor to march under that banner,” he shared.
“I look forward to continuing my service to this family of churches alongside the convention staff and other ministry partners. I ask that you continue praying for the Biblical Recorder staff and board during this transition. I have an immense amount of trust in their character and competence to follow the Lord’s leading into the future.”
Five new areas of work
Brown has been named director of convention relations. He will work with the convention board of directors, institutions, agencies, multiple committees of the board and convention, as well as other ministry partners.
The other four convention groups are mission catalysts, ministry strategies, operations, and marketing and communications.
Chuck Register, who is currently the associate executive director, will lead the mission catalysts group. Register will oversee catalysts serving in each of the geographic regions of the state (as listed in the convention bylaws).
Taking over as associate executive director is Brian Upshaw, who will direct ministry strategies. His role will focus on training and development for convention staff as well as leading staff members who are specialists in particular ministry areas as they work with churches, pastors and others to develop and implement strategic plans and approaches to ministry.
The operations group will be led by John Butler, who will maintain many of his current responsibilities in the business services area plus gain oversight of the information technology team.
Kathryn Carson, who currently leads communications for the convention, will direct the new marketing and communications group. She will provide strategic direction for communications initiatives that involve print and digital communications, website design, social media, editorial content, graphic design and videography. Carson’s group will work with the entire convention staff to develop resources and provide expanded support for churches.
‘Hope all North Carolina Baptists will be excited’
Convention president Micheal Pardue said in a statement to the convention, “The changes made by our executive committee … reflect the vision that Todd has shared with countless North Carolina Baptists since he was put forth and elected as our EDT.
“Todd has allowed current convention leaders, numerous pastors, associational mission strategists and former convention officers to have significant input into his thought process,” said Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Church Icard in Connelly Springs, N.C. “I hope all North Carolina Baptists will be excited about where God is taking us as we are on mission together.”