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Baptist Children's Homes, Blackwell Part Ways After Financial Review


A special meeting of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) Board of Trustees was held on September 13 at Mills Home in Thomasville. During their meeting, trustees discussed a report on a financial review that was commissioned by the board’s Executive Committee in the spring, and proceeded to consider the future of the organization. Following that meeting, the board adjourned until its regularly scheduled meeting on September 19 and directed legal counsel to continue working towards a resolution. Based on the findings of the review, the board and BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell finalized an agreement on September 19 for Blackwell to retire effective immediately. Both parties have agreed that moving in the direction of new leadership is in the best interest of the organization and its mission of “sharing hope…changing lives.” The independent review involved a forensic accountant’s assessment of specific organizational expenditures by Blackwell. The findings substantiated multiple instances of misuse directly conflicting with both BCH policies and Blackwell’s fiduciary duties. Blackwell has agreed to reimburse BCH in full for the funds that were identified. Additionally, he will pay the appropriate amount of applicable taxes. Blackwell’s final compensation will only consist of that which is required by law, and BCH policy regarding accrued vacation and sick time. “While the outcome of this review was disappointing, the action taken by the trustees clearly prioritizes that the integrity of the BCH mission and, most importantly, our commitment to the children and families we serve comes first,” Gayla Freeman, Chairman of the BCH Executive Committee, said in a statement. “It is our hope that this is the first step in rebuilding trust with our supporters, partners and NC Baptists who have faithfully stood with us to minister to the needs of the most vulnerable while showing them God’s unconditional love.” The review determined that BCH’s bylaws, as currently written, give the President/CEO position too wide a margin of financial authority. “We have concluded from the review that the misuse of funds was isolated to the former President/CEO and was not systemic," Freeman stated. Freeman also stated that the board is in process of developing a plan for updating and strengthening governing structures. The goal is to establish the degree of oversight that is essential for an organization of BCH’s size and scope. A search committee will be created in the coming weeks to identify a new executive leader for the almost 138-year-old ministry. BCH’s Keith Henry and Brenda Gray, who have shared presidential responsibilities since Blackwell’s voluntary leave of absence began on May 26, 2023, will continue to lead the organization in the interim. “The ministry of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina is bigger than any one individual – it is God’s ministry,” Freeman stated. “We know that He is already going before us. We humbly ask for your prayers and for you to continue to stand alongside us as we minister to those we serve now and to those who will turn to us in the season ahead.”

Note: Click below to read the detailed financial review report.

About Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina: Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) was established on November 11, 1885 as the Thomasville Orphanage. Today, BCH has grown from its inaugural location into one of the southeast’s largest child care organizations located in 35 communities throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and in Guatemala. The nonprofit, which is fueled by charitable funding provided by churches and donors, offers help and hope to children, families, single mothers, expectant mothers, adoptive families, college students, intellectually/developmentally disabled adults, and aging adults.


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