“Hopefully we’ve all been reminded that we can’t take anything for granted,” says Bill Cox, executive director of Concoxions Ministries. “[My wife, Kathy, and I] have chosen to focus on being even more thankful for all that we have instead of on all that we may have lost.”
After 34 years, Seesalt summer student conferences stopped holding its faith-based youth camps in 2019.
Cox produced and directed Seesalt, as well as Chillipepper winter student conferences, for decades. He and his wife have a long career in faith-based event planning and ministry.
Based in Spartanburg, S.C., Cox was the associate director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention evangelism department and headed up the organization’s youth events for more than a decade. He also served as a youth minister at Taylors First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., for five years.
Cox thought he’d seen it all. But the pandemic trumped everything.
“Our ministry is in the dual position of planning and conducting our own conferences and also providing programming for others,” says Cox. “COVID-19 shut down both sides of our ministry.”
“In deciding whether or not to conduct our own events during the initial 16 months or so of the pandemic, [Concoxions] prioritized the health and safety of our participants as well as the people they would encounter when they returned home,” he shares.
“We realized that over several decades of doing primarily youth events, we had built a high level of trust,” he says. “In many cases, churches and parents were putting their trust in our decision-making. They knew if we were doing a conference during the pandemic, it would be because we were confident that it would be safe to do so.”
He adds firmly: “No amount of money was worth violating that trust.”
Even with various safety procedures in place, Cox and his team believed that risk factors would still be significant. “If we were going to err, we decided to err on the side of keeping people safe,” says Cox.
Months ahead of one of Concoxions larger conferences scheduled for January 2022, there were questions about the possibility of a new variant and another surge—both of which happened. But the decision to again cancel it was ultimately a financial one.
“Simply put, the pandemic has been financially devastating,” he adds in no uncertain terms.
While he’s been planning events for 40 years, Cox is also a talented artist and performer. He decided to lean into his gifts.
Years and years ago, Cox created a program called Art to Heart that he performs around the country. He entertains audiences, many times faith-based conferencegoers, with an onstage, fluorescent chalk drawing that’s delivered with special effects, music, drama and a message.
“For even longer than we’ve been doing our own conferences, we’ve been providing programming for other ministries,” he says, “and we have refocused our efforts in that area.”
An actor, Cox also has an original one-man drama called “Peter: Once a Fisherman…” In December, Concoxtions performed many of its “Christmas Chronicles” programs, which include five dramatic monologues. “I speak, teach, do leadership training, consult and other things,” he says.
The Adventure Continues
It’s that diversification that has allowed money to continue to flow into the business during the pandemic. Like many other faith-based planners, Cox had to get scrappy and tap into other talents while waiting for conferences and events to come all the way back.
“We are pressing on by focusing on the ministries we provide to churches and other organizations, which includes speaking, [performance], music, leadership training and consulting.”
“It has been and continues to be a challenge,” shares Cox.
His faith spurs him on. “I feel like for us it has been a time of pruning that we hope, pray and believe will lead to future growth,” he shares. “I think there are some new chapters ahead of us, including some that I can’t even imagine right now.”
He says one blessing of the pandemic is that it put Kathy and him in a position to slow down and rest. “We’ve pushed hard not just for years, but for decades,” he says.
“None of us knows what the future holds, so we’re trying to do our best to live and minister to the fullest no matter what happens,” he adds. “But we have much to be thankful for. So the adventure continues.”
Photos courtesy of Bill Cox