The Passing of a Baptist Leader

Rev. C. Mark Corts, longtime pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina, passed away August 29 from congestive heart failure. He was 68 years old. Rev. Corts pastored Calvary Baptist for nearly four decades, watching the church grow from 125 members to 6000 members today. Calvary was a leading church–perhaps the leading church–among conservatives in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Rev. Corts was active in the "official" Conservative Resurgence, but just as important, he was a leading conservative dissenter in the SBC in the years leading up to 1979.

Rev. Corts was part of a small but influential group of North Carolina pastors that found themselves in regular opposition to the moderate leadership of the state's Baptist convention. Along with men like M. O. Owens, Gerald Primm and James Bulman, Rev. Corts stood for the inerrancy of Scripture in one of the most progressive states in SBC life. He stood for baptism by immersion when some churches in the state convention were rejecting the ordinance as prerequisite to church membership. He stood for traditional gender roles in ministry when North Carolina Baptists took the lead in ordaining women into the ministry. He stood for the autonomy of the local church when state convention bureaucrats successfully pushed through a resolution calling upon churches to alter their constitutions so that, in the event of a church split, whichever faction remained loyal to the convention would retain the church's property and other assetts. He stood with Lewis Drummond and Paige Patterson as they led Southeastern Seminary to transition from a small, progressive seminary to a large, conservative seminary. He was one of the key leaders in Conservative Carolina Baptists, a network of conservative churches that were critical of the state's progressive leadership.

Besides his leadership at the state level–which included a term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina–Rev. Corts was also involved in the national convention. He was president of the Pastor's Conference. He served on several Southern Baptist committees. He was a trustee of the International Mission Board, serving a term as the board's chairman. In fact, mission was at the heart of Rev. Corts' ministry; Calvary Baptist Church remains one of the most mission-minded, Great Commission churches in the SBC. At present, 25% of the church's budget is allocated for mission causes. Also close to Rev. Corts' heart was theological education, especially at Southeastern Seminary. Today the North Carolina Baptist Pastor's Conference gives an annual preaching award, named in honor of Rev. Corts, to an outstanding SEBTS graduate.

For more about the life and ministry of this man of God, read the obituary published in yesterday's edition of Baptist Press.

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