HOOVER, Ala. (BP)–Messengers to the annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention approved a 2011 Cooperative Program budget of $43 million, down from $46 million for the current year during their Nov. 16-17 annual meeting.
The 943 messengers, representing 419 churches, affirmed the Cooperative Program in one of the resolutions adopted during their sessions at Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover under the theme of “Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So.”
The convention also extended missions partnerships through 2012 with the Ukraine, Guatemala, the Baptist State Convention of Michigan and Baptist work in Jacmel, Haiti, in conjunction with the Haiti Baptist Convention and the Florida Baptist Convention.
Mike Shaw, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pelham, was elected president; John Killian, pastor of Maytown Baptist Church in Maytown, was elected first vice president; and Travis Coleman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Prattville, was elected second vice president.
“We are praying and hoping to bring in at least $42 million of the $46 million budget for this year,” said Travis Coleman, chairman of State Board of Missions (SBOM), noting that Alabama Baptists currently are about $4 million behind budget for the year. “That’s why you will see a decrease in the budget this year.”
Of the $43 million proposed base budget, $18,278,739 will go to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries, $12,876,909 to the State Board of Missions ministries and $11,844,352 to state convention entities. The distribution percentages of the Alabama Baptist CP budget are: 57.5 percent to Alabama Baptist causes and 42.5 percent to SBC causes.
Coleman noted that Alabama is first among other state conventions in giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and second in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
Special offering goals also were approved by the messengers, totaling $20.955 million. They are Lottie Moon offering, $11.5 million; Annie Armstrong offering, $6 million; Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, $2.55 million; World Hunger Offering, $800,000; and Disaster Relief Offering, $100,000.
STUDY COMMITTEE APPOINTED
Prior to the motions being introduced, President Jimmy Jackson named the State Board of Missions’ Executive Committee as a special committee to “study ways to better focus our resources” in the coming “Decade to Make a Difference,” as Alabama Baptists are calling 2011 to 2020.
“As we begin a new decade — the Decade to Make a Difference — we want to have thoughtful and deliberate planning to help Alabama Baptists focus our resources and conduct Great Commission Ministries through the coming decade,” Jackson said.
“I know it is not a good time to put additional pressure on the convention budget,” he continued. “I’m convinced the people best to lead have already been assembled: the [SBOM] Executive Committee.
“It is made up of ministers and laymen from every district of Alabama [who] have a close proximity to grassroots Alabama Baptists,” Jackson said. “It also consists of the WMU president, chairman of the SBOM, convention president, immediate past president, first vice president.
“Having EC to serve as this special committee will be fiscally responsible because meetings have already been scheduled. It is the most efficient choice in time management and conserving CP dollars.”
Jackson said the SBOM Executive Committee will conduct its study for at least two years and will bring a preliminary report to the 2011 convention, with any appropriate recommendations to be considered at the 2012 convention.
Ten resolutions were passed without debate at the annual meeting:
— “On Unity Through the Cooperative Program” praises the unity, sense of common purpose and ministry funding accomplished through CP and pledges to “work with the churches, associations and the Southern Baptist Convention in promoting Cooperative Program giving.”
(Two motions were made by messengers relating to Cooperative Program funding. One dealt with naming a committee to study and evaluate CP allocation. The other suggested making percentage adjustments dealing with the 2012-13 budget to move toward a 50-50 budget split. Both were ruled out of order: The first because Jackson had named a study committee and the second because one convention cannot bind a future convention.)
— “On Alabama Gambling” condemns all types of gambling in the state and urges stepped-up enforcement efforts against violators. It also encourages Alabama Baptist pastors to “educate their congregations on the evils of gambling” and ask them to support authorities who oppose gambling.
— “On Homosexuality and the United States Military” opposes normalization of homosexuality in the military, specifically applauding Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions for opposing the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The resolution calls upon authorities and Alabama Baptists to oppose normalization as well.
— “On Physical Health” cites statistics on obesity in the state and calls for Alabama Baptists to repent of overeating and become good stewards of their bodies by practicing moderation as they eat.
— “On the Employment Nondiscrimination Act” opposes pending legislation in Congress that would add protections for sexual orientation to current anti-discrimination laws. Warning that the law could impede the free speech rights of pastors and ministers opposed to homosexuality, the resolution states continued opposition to legislative attempts to normalize homosexual behavior.
— “On the Tragedy in the Gulf” acknowledges the loss of lives as well as economic and environmental damage caused by the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. It expresses sympathy and resolves to pray for those affected by the tragedy. The resolution pledges to try to replenish the region affected by the spill.
— “In Support of Smoke-free Ordinances” encourages state lawmakers and/or local municipalities to enact laws banning smoking in all workplaces, restaurants and public buildings to promote the safety and health of the public.
— “On Dr. David Potts’ 20th Anniversary as President of Judson College” expresses appreciation for Potts’ leadership, citing achievements during his tenure and wishing him well for the future.
— “On Appreciation” cites the contributions of those involved in the convention process and expresses gratitude to God and “those He used to bring about convention sessions characterized by His leadership.”
— “On Affirmation of the State Board of Missions and Entities Staff” affirms and encourages the staff of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and Alabama Baptist entities.
The annual meeting was preceded by the Alabama Baptist Pastors’ Conference at First Baptist Church in Gardendale Nov. 15.
Next year’s annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention will be Nov. 15-16 at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile.
Based on reporting by Jennifer Davis Rash of The Alabama Baptist.