TIGERVILLE, S.C. (courtesy ngu.edu) — Effective July 2020, North Greenville University (NGU) and the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) will enter in a partnership to maintain the SCBC’s Office of Public Policy. Dr. Tony Beam, NGU director of church and community engagement, will serve on a part-time basis with the SCBC as the Director of the Office of Public Policy on an annual contract. He will continue in his full-time role at NGU with responsibilities in the areas of Development and Public Affairs.
“Dr. Beam is a leading voice in the area of public policy and religious liberty issues,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “For many years he has advised the university and local congregations on these topics, and he will lead South Carolina Baptists in their advocacy work with the kind of joyful, principled spirit that is so desperately needed in our oft-divided culture.”
Beam said he is deeply honored to follow in the footsteps of Joe Mack, who led the work of the Office of Public Policy for more than 20 years.
“Joe’s reputation as a man of integrity and his relationships and influence with South Carolina political leaders is legendary. I know I can’t fill his shoes, but I will do my best to continue his high standard of excellence representing South Carolina Baptists in the Statehouse,” said Beam.
The SCBC Office of Public Policy was established in 1999 to assist like-minded churches, state agencies, businesses, and non-profits in the fight against video poker. The Office then shifted its attention to opposing a state lottery, passing a strong marriage amendment, and working with SCBC churches and biblically-based Christian organizations to encourage the passage of pro-life and pro-family legislation.
At the height of the Office of Public Policy’s influence, the SCBC employed a full-time director and administrative assistant. The total budget for the Office, including salaries, promotional materials, events, communication, and support for like-minded organizations, grew to between $250,000 to $300,000.
The Office of Public Policy directed the work of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee and offered information and guidance to the SCBC Resolutions Committee. The Office communicated regularly with SCBC churches keeping leaders of the church informed about the progress of pending legislation.
Joe Mack served as the director of the Office of Public Policy from 1999 through 2010, and Mark Hendrick served as director from 2010 until 2016. In January of 2017, Mack returned as the Office of Public Policy director, working with the SCBC in a part-time contract position. Mack will retire as Director of Public Policy in June 2020, at the end of the current legislative session.
“When Joe Mack announced his retirement from his second term of service as Director of the Office of Public Policy, it became readily apparent that Dr. Tony Beam was the perfect choice to fill this important role. Dr. Beam’s experiences as a pastor, professor, and consistent conservative voice in the public arena will allow South Carolina Baptists to continue to influence the State House in Columbia in spiritual, moral, and ethical issues,” said Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, SCBC executive director-treasurer. “Dr. Gene Fant’s support of Tony filling this role while continuing to serve at North Greenville University will make for a strong and lasting partnership.”
A South Carolina native, Beam has served as a pastor, higher education administrator, radio talk show host, and prominent speaker on behalf of conservative biblical values. He has served in full-time roles with Rock Hill Baptist (now Lake Bowen Baptist), Popular Springs Baptist in Moore, and Pleasant Grove Baptist in Fountain Inn as well as interim pastorates in 12 Upstate churches. In addition to his current work with NGU for the past 16 years, he serves as interim pastor of Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors.
As Director of the Office of Public Policy of the SCBC, Beam will spend two days per week in Columbia during the legislative session. He will work at the State Capitol to meet with, pray for, minister to, and encourage state lawmakers in both the House and the Senate to pass legislation that is in keeping with the biblical values outlined in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
Beam’s work will not be construed as addressing public policy related to private higher education, delineating the Office of Public Policy role as wholly separate from the university’s existing higher education legislative representation. He will work with and minister to members of the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and other state agencies to promote the implementation of laws that are in keeping with the 2020 Baptist Faith and Message.
Also, the director will work with the SCBC Executive Director-Treasurer to coordinate and oversee the work of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee and assist the SCBC Resolutions Committee and the CLPA to draft resolutions presented at the annual state convention meeting. Beam will maintain contact with the churches and associations in the South Carolina Baptist Network to keep them informed about cultural issues that affect the Body of Christ and about the progress of legislation under consideration by the South Carolina Legislature.