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Baptist entities saved $4 million via purchasing alliance in 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When it came time to move a new worship pastor to Bowling Green, Ky., the members of Living Hope Baptist Church faced a difficult problem — moving a grand piano without damaging it or injuring themselves.

The solution came in the form of Atlas Van Lines and Apex Moving and Storage, one of the companies that offer discounted deals to Southern Baptist entities through the renamed Southern Baptist Purchasing Alliance (SBPA). The church has used the company exclusively for its ministerial relocations since 2000.

“They’re familiar with the needs of churches,” said Scott Kilgore, executive pastor at Living Hope. “They are wonderful in being able to take our requests, get the needed information, and they take care of everything else. They have over-delivered.”

Formerly known as the Cooperative Purchasing Agreement, the SBPA utilizes SBC entities’ relationships with various large companies, including Microsoft, Dell and Toshiba, to provide high-quality software, hardware, equipment, furniture, supplies and services to Southern Baptist entities at discounted rates.

“Our purpose is to use the combined purchasing volume of all the Southern Baptist entities to provide the lowest possible price to Southern Baptists,” said Mike Harry, director of LifeWay Christian Resources’ logistics department and coordinator of the effort. “Our hope is that we can free up operation dollars for SBC entities and churches to further their ministry efforts.”

Southern Baptists realized about $4 million in savings in 2002, Harry said.

Churches are charged no fees when they make purchases through the SBPA. “We want people to know that we’re different from co-ops,” he said. “There aren’t any fees to use this. We’re just trying to negotiate the best prices.”

Since 1998, the SBPA has made competitive pricing available to SBC entities (including LifeWay employees), seminaries, associations, state conventions, churches, Baptist colleges and universities and children’s homes.

“We would like more people to know about this program,” Harry said. “The more Southern Baptist [organizations] we can get to participate, the lower we can drive the prices.” He noted that the name was changed to Southern Baptist Purchasing Alliance from Cooperative Purchasing Agreements “because we’ve had some people confuse it with the Cooperative Program.”

“Companies participating in the SBPA help you, the customer, find the product that best fits your needs, while also providing important warranty and service options,” Harry said. He added that the effort usually results in a better deal than special promotions the companies offer.

In Creston Hulett’s experience in Nashville, good deals have proven to be the standard with the SBPA.

“We’ve saved at least $200 to $500 per computer,” said Hulett, minister of administration at Two Rivers Baptist Church in the Tennessee capital. “We double check the prices each and every time and we’ve come back to the Dell purchasing alliance agreement every time. If you purchase the Microsoft software through the purchasing alliance agreement, you can get it for pennies on the dollar compared to the shelf prices.”

Deals are offered through Dell, Atlas Van Lines, Boise Office Solutions, Microsoft, Toshiba, MCI, Alfred Williams and Co., an office furniture company, and the United States Mutual Association, a firm that completes employee applicant background checks.

To read more online, go to www.lifeway.com, and choose Southern Baptist Purchasing Alliance under the “shopping” pull-down menu at the top of the page.

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  • Mandy Crow