MOBILE, Ala. (BP) — Alabama Baptists overwhelmingly approved a $43 million Cooperative Program base budget for 2012 — holding steady from the current year while increasing the percentage of funds going to the SBC missions and ministry — during their Nov. 15-16 annual meeting at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile.
The 763 messengers, representing 373 churches under the theme of “Great Commission Ministries … Together,” approved a strategic partnership strategy named Alabama Acts 1:8 Connections to be developed for implementation in January 2013. It focuses on connecting missionaries from Alabama with the International and North American mission boards with other Alabama Baptists.
Re-elected as convention officers were Mike Shaw, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pelham, president; John Killian, pastor of Maytown Baptist, first vice president; and Travis Colemen, pastor of First Baptist Church in Prattville, second vice president.
The new budget reflects a shift to 43 percent of the budget going to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), up from 42.5 percent — a difference of $215,000, which came from reductions in funds allocated to Samford University, The Baptist Foundation of Alabama, the Alabama Baptist Retirement Centers and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).
Messengers also approved a $700,000 SBC/Alabama joint budget item and a $1 million challenge budget that, if reached, will be divided 50–50 between the SBC and the Alabama convention.
“Every dollar [of the $1 million challenge budget] will be allocated on the 50–50 formula,” said Lawrence Phipps, chairman of the SBOM, as he presented the budget to messengers.
Messengers also approved special offering goals for 2012 totaling $21,300,000. They include the Lottie Moon Offering, $11,600,000; Annie Armstrong Offering, $6,100,000; Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries Offering, $2,600,000; World Hunger Offering, $800,000; and Disaster Relief Offering, $200,000. The Disaster Relief Offering also was approved to become a new annual emphasis for Alabama Baptists.
So far this year, Alabama Baptist giving is 6.7 percent below budget needs and is a little over 2 percent below giving at the same point a year ago.
TASK FORCE UPDATE
Jimmy Jackson, immediate past president of the convention, relayed an interim report from the Great Commission Task Force (formerly Great Commission Study Committee) that was created last year. Jackson, who chairs the task force, is pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville.
“Our desire is to determine, first of all, how we can improve what we are doing and how we can further what we are doing,” Jackson said.
So far, the task force has heard from four Southern Baptist leaders.
On Jan. 20, the group met with Bob White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention and a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) in 2009–10. “We talked about the history of the SBC and its relationship to the Cooperative Program (CP) and how we minister,” Jackson said.
On March 17, Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee and a member of the GCRTF, discussed the historic working relationship of the SBC and state conventions in relationship to the CP. “We looked at what we are doing and what is being done throughout the SBC,” Jackson noted.
On May 12, Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, shared “what is going to be taking place in the years to come.”
On Aug. 11, Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., and chairman of the GCRTF, shared the reasons behind the GCRTF recommendations and “what we can do to better serve the Lord.”
“As we did our evaluations, we found out that Alabama is No. 1 in CP giving across the entire SBC and has been for quite some time,” Jackson said. Also, “Alabama is a perennial leader in SBC missions giving through Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong and World Hunger. The tornadoes impacted the giving of local churches but we are still No. 1.”
Jackson said the task force affirms the following recommendations made by the State Board of Missions:
— Increase the percentage of CP gifts to SBC causes by 0.05 percent in 2012.
— Allocate any undesignated funds exceeding the 2012 base budget on a 50/50 basis between the SBC and the state.
— Consider a new paradigm for global missions partnerships by focusing on assisting missionaries with Alabama roots.
— Increase the special offering goal for disaster relief.
The task force also reaffirmed the following:
1. “Our commitment to the Great Commission.
2. “Our commitment as a state convention to the primary means and preferred model of supporting missions by giving through the Cooperative Program.
3. “Our partnership in missions with the larger family of faith called Southern Baptists.
4. “Our commitment to reach the lost (statewide, globally).”
Jackson said a more detailed report will be presented at the 2012 annual meeting in Montgomery, and if additional time is needed, a third report will be offered at the state convention meeting in Huntsville in 2013.
Messengers at the annual meeting unanimously approved seven resolutions:
— “On Protecting the Sanctity of Life in Alabama” commends the 2011 Alabama Legislature for “protecting the unborn child by passing the Alabama Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” John Killian, first vice president of the ABSC and pastor of Maytown Baptist Church, proposed an amendment adding “and the governor” to the commendation since the governor supported the bill and signed it into law. The amendment passed.
— “On Defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)” requests that the Alabama congressional delegation “actively oppose any repeal or modification of DOMA, which would remove the protection that only marriages between a man and a woman shall be permitted in the United States and that no other form of marriage or union replicating marriage will be permitted between persons of the same sex.”
— “On the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible” underscores “the memory and the unique benefits of the King James Version,” commending these benefits to succeeding generations and requesting that Alabama Baptists “use these translations of God-breathed Scripture in God-honoring ministry.”
— “On Disaster Relief” expresses appreciation to “those involved in helping minister to persons affected by the tornadoes” and “special appreciation to Mel Johnson, associate in the (Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’) office of global missions, for his coordination of the disaster relief efforts.”
— “On Religious Liberty in a Global Society” restates Alabama Baptists’ “longstanding view that religious liberty is an inalienable human right” and affirming that this “freedom entails the civil liberty to convert to another religion or to no religion.”
— “On Appreciation for Paul Miller” expresses “gratitude to God for Paul Miller,” retiring president of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries (ABCH), and calling on Alabama Baptists to pray for Miller and the continued ministry of the ABCH.
— “On Appreciation” expresses Alabama Baptists’ “profound gratitude to the Lord and to those whom He used to bring about a convention characterized by God’s blessings.”
While no resolutions were received on the topic of immigration, resolutions chairman Rob Jackson, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Decatur, said, “It is still our responsibility to share Jesus Christ with everyone whether the person is in Alabama legally or [not]. It is our responsibility to share the love of Jesus Christ with them.”
The 2012 Alabama Baptist State Convention will be Nov. 13-14 at Vaughn Forest Baptist Church in Montgomery.
Compiled from reports by The Alabama Baptist (www.thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.