NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission made a public pitch for greater funding to the SBC Executive Committee Jan. 6 — although members of the Executive Committee were not in town when the presentation was made.
Calling for a larger piece of the convention’s financial pie, CLC trustee officers released a resolution during an afternoon news conference in Nashville, Tenn., pertaining to the SBC’s Cooperative Program allocating funding percentages. The resolution called on Executive Committee members to loose the CLC, an agency which deals with ethical, public policy and religious liberty issues, from its “current fiscal restraints.”
The SBC Executive Committee prepares the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget each year, including the setting of percentages for each SBC entity, during its regular mid-February meeting and recommends it to the annual meeting of the convention in June. The committee also oversees distribution of the CP funds to the denomination’s seminaries, agencies and boards.
The fact that after the SBC annual meeting in June in Dallas there will be 12 agencies, instead of the current 19, with possible savings from the restructuring, has led a number of the remaining agencies to ask the Executive Committee for larger allocations.
Expressing concern about the financial future of the Christian Life Commission, the agency’s executive committee criticized in the resolution a “status quo mentality of throwing a few financial bones” to the commission.
In a Dec. 31 letter to the SBC Executive Committee’s 80 members, CLC trustee chairman Charles Betts lamented “the comparative lack of resources available to the commission.” Betts noted the CLC has been “one of the most underfunded agencies in Southern Baptist life. In the 1996-97 CP Allocation Budget, the CLC will receive .99 percent or $1,437,455 of the total $145 million budget.
Richard D. Land, CLC president, and John Yeats, editor of the Indiana Baptist and a trustee, both emphasized the CLC is the most dependent of the SBC agencies on the Cooperative Program for support, unlike other agencies which have alumni help, special offerings and development offices. In earlier formal, written requests made by agencies to the Executive Committee in preparation for the annual budget, the CLC had requested a $700,000 increase for 1997-98, Land said.
Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, asked for a response, said: “Although it is highly unusual to hold a press conference to announce a position about an issue decided within the Southern Baptist family, it is only natural that trustees and staff would request additional funding for the agency they represent. As always, the Executive Committee will prayerfully and deliberately study the Cooperative Program allocations for 1997-98 before making a recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Although the resolution called for no specific dollar amounts, the resolution asked for a “level of no less than 3 percent and a maximum of 4.2 percent of SBC Cooperative Program receipts by budget year 2000, knowing that the restructuring costs are still being incurred, but should be finally complete by that date.”
The 3 percent would add nearly $3 million to the CLC budget, giving it the “resources necessary to hold up biblical truth and equip astute, articulate Southern Baptists with the resources to train church leaders and policy creators with insights on serving a people who want to live quiet, peaceable lives in a nation God will bless,” the resolution said.
The resolution said the agency “through years of under funding within the current SBC financial formulas … is severely limited in its capacity to communicate with churches, policy makers, students, academics, bio-medical ethicists and world leaders about biblical standards in the context of a world that embraces abortion on demand, euthanasia, religious persecution, racial discrimination, and gender neutrality as normative behavior.”
While grateful the commission’s “place and role” were preserved, Betts, pastor of First Baptist Church, Vandalia, Ohio, said, “We believe that if we were important enough to retain in the restructure as one of the five ministry divisions in Southern Baptist Convention life, then we ought to be funded accordingly.” The agency will be renamed the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in the restructuring, effective in June.
Yeats stated “raising up a godly standard” of righteousness is a key facet of evangelism — showing the nation its sin and its need for repentance.
Also at the news conference, trustee officers and staff also unveiled a new logo or graphic identity. With a shield as a backdrop, the logo has an image of the U.S. Capitol building, a globe of the world and a Bible with rays of light emanating on the Capitol and the globe. A banner beneath the shield is inscribed with Christ’s command that his followers be: “The salt of the earth … the light of the world.”
(BP) graphic of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission logo posted in SBCNet’s BP Photos Library.