NGU News

Hollingsworth Receives NGU’s Hemphill Award for Denominational Service

Posted on: June 22, 2023
By LaVerne Howell,

Long-time Southern Baptist leader Gary Hollingsworth, third from left, received the Paula and Ken Hemphill Denominational Service Award from North Greenville University during the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on June 13. The honor was presented at an NGU alumni and friends dinner in New Orleans, LA. From left, Dr. Ken Hemphill, Paula Hemphill, Dr. Hollingsworth, and NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr.

Tigerville, SC (June 22, 2023) Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, recently retired executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, received the Paula and Ken Hemphill Denominational Service Award from North Greenville University (NGU) during the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. 

The long-time Baptist pastor and leader was honored during NGU’s alumni and friends dinner on June 13 in New Orleans, LA. More than 140 people attended the event at Mulate’s Original Cajun Restaurant. 

The Hemphill Award recognizes “servant leadership empowering Southern Baptists’ kingdom growth.” It is named in honor of noted Southern Baptist ministry leaders Paula and Ken Hemphill. With careers spanning global missions, local pastorates, a seminary presidency, and writing books on varied Christian topics, the Hemphills are engaged in developing resources that enhance strategic work in evangelism and church revitalization. 

Hollingsworth retired on April 30, 2023, after 47 years in full-time ministry. He had served as SCBC executive director-treasurer since January 13, 2016, based in Columbia. The Alabama native moved to South Carolina from Little Rock, AR, where he was pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church. His pastorates have included churches in Kentucky, Virginia, and Alabama. He also served as senior director of cultural evangelism at Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board from 2005-2007. 

“Dr. Hollingsworth, we are thankful for your leadership of South Carolina Baptists,” said Paula Hemphill during the award presentation. “You have done a great job and we are proud to be part of this state convention.” 

NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., noted Hollingsworth’s influence in nurturing a unified spirit across the state’s Baptist churches and entities. 

“For those of you who are serving in South Carolina, I hope you understand what a blessing it is to be in South Carolina,” Dr. Fant said to the dinner guests. “We have a unity that is so unusual. Gary set a tone for collegiality and kingdom focus that was unparalleled in my experience. I watched him pastor pastors in a way that was really exceptional.” 

“Gary, you have done a great job,” Fant continued. “We love you. Thank you for a job well done.” 

Hollingsworth relocated to Trussville, Alabama, following his retirement from the SCBC. He currently serves in a part-time capacity as an ambassador for Mission Dignity, a Southern Baptist ministry to retired ministers and their widows. 

The NGU dinner was one of a wide range of events associated with the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 13-14 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. A total of 12,737 individuals, representing 4,423 churches, registered as messengers for the annual meeting. Total attendance at the annual meeting was 18,901. A total of 524 of the convention messengers represented South Carolina Baptist Convention churches. The meeting was preceded by the SBC Pastors’ Conference June 11-12. 

Dr. Daniel Dickard, a 2012 NGU graduate, served as president of the Pastors’ Conference. NGU Provost Dr. Nathan Finn was recording secretary for the SBC Annual Meeting. Rev. Lamont Sullivan, NGU senior associate vice president for alumni engagement, served on the convention’s committee on committees.  

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