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6/5/97 Lottie Moon receipts post 4th straight gain

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptist giving to the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering posted its fourth straight gain, and for the first time in history had surpassed the $90 million mark when the books closed May 31.
At a record $93,089,179.27, the 1996 offering reflected dollar and percentage increases greater than any since 1988. From 1995, receipts increased about $4.1 million, or 4.6 percent — almost twice the rate of inflation.
Learning of the record total, Foreign Mission Board President Jerry Rankin responded: “That’s great. This will allow us to continue our thrust toward reaching the Last Frontier, and continue the pattern of appointing missionaries at record levels.”
Last year the board appointed 590 overseas mission workers for assignments of two years or more, a record number of new workers in a year’s time. The annual number of new workers has been rising steadily for several years. Much of the thrust has been in rapidly responding harvest areas and in the Last Frontier, regions where people groups have had little or no access to the gospel.
This year, $91 million of the offering will go into the board’s overseas operating budget, which primarily provides support for these and other mission workers. An additional $2.1 million will underwrite overseas capital spending needs such as new construction and vehicles.
The offering total amounted to 93 percent of the goal of $100 million, said Carl Johnson, vice president for finance, in a report to board trustees June 4.
To reach the 1997 goal of $100 million, Southern Baptists must increase their giving by 7.4 percent. “There is no question that Southern Baptists have the capacity to give that amount and even a great deal more,” Johnson said.
Rankin said he is confident churches will give even more this year as the board closes in on the $100 million mark. “We praise God for his faithfulness through Southern Baptists and this indication of their continuing zeal to be on mission with him,” he said.
Southern Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director Dellanna O’Brien agreed. “Southern Baptists will rejoice in the results of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for 1996,” she said. It’s “truly amazing” that the offering — started in 1888 by the WMU to support FMB missionaries — has grown from $3,315 to more than $93 million, but “we cannot rest on our laurels … if we are to bring people from every tribe, tongue and nation to the throne of God.
“I can just imagine the amazement of Lottie Moon if she were here today,” O’Brien said. Still, “We must look toward even greater sacrifice in providing necessary resources” for continuing growth overseas.
Last fall, board trustees approved a 1997 budget of $205.5 million based mainly on Lottie Moon receipts and $72.5 million from the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan.
Built into the board’s 1997 financial plan was continuing expansion of its overseas program, especially in harvest areas such as Eastern Europe where gospel response is accelerating and the Last Frontier, which until recent years has traditionally been untouched by mission work because of cultural, religious and political resistance.
The offering is generally collected in churches during December. It funds nearly half (47 percent) of the board’s budget. Besides the Cooperative Program (36 percent), other sources of income to the board include investment income (8 percent), hunger and relief receipts (3 percent), designated income (2 percent) and 4 percent from other sources.

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  • Marty Croll