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Cooperative Program tops budget by $12.5M; gains to aid Southern Baptists with hurricane disaster recovery needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Cooperative Program giving for national causes in 2004-05 finished above giving for the previous year, the 11th rise in 12 years. Receipts totaled $195,948,422.55, an increase of $6,083,167.70, or 3.20 percent over the 2003-04 amount of $189,865,254.85.

Importantly, 2004-05 contributions exceeded the approved budget by $12,496,728.55 and because of budget actions taken in September, the extra amount will be redirected to meet extraordinary hurricane recovery needs of Southern Baptists.

On Sept. 19, the Executive Committee, acting ad interim on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, voted unanimously to use beyond-the-budget Cooperative Program contributions for SBC national causes, received for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, in three areas of great need among Southern Baptists. One-half of the total is earmarked for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (to aid faculty and students recover from losses and to help rebuild the campus), one-fourth will go to the three state conventions most affected by the hurricane (to keep ministers in the field and to assist churches in recovery) and one-fourth to the North American Mission Board (to support the extensive hurricane disaster relief operations).

The committee also voted that the same formula be followed with beyond-the-budget receipts for the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget during the first quarter (October, November, December) of the new fiscal year.

The Cooperative Program is separate from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund of which 100 percent of monies go to aid the needy in the general public.

For the month, CP receipts of $16,504,872.44 were 23.21 percent, or $3,109,357.46, above the $13,395,514.98 received in September 2004.

When Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman made the recommendation in September to use beyond-the-budget contributions for relief efforts, officials estimated there could be a potential boost of $7 million, significantly less than what Southern Baptists actually contributed.

The Great Commission Council, which is composed of the chief executives of SBC national entities, unanimously supported Chapman’s recommendation even though the overage for national SBC causes normally would be apportioned for each CP-supported national entity. Although entities do not include possible overages in planning their budgets, they use extra contributions to fund non-budgeted priorities.

Chapman said that Southern Baptists’ method of funding missions, ministries and theological education has been essential to the success of SBC disaster relief operations.

“The Cooperative Program supports a permanent disaster relief organization and because of this funding stability, Southern Baptists have been able to respond immediately and comprehensively to disaster relief needs, now and in the past, without one missionary having to return from the field or one student having to be turned away from any of our seminaries,” he said. “Southern Baptist disaster teams were the first on the ground following these back-o-back hurricanes and many of them will be the last to leave.”

Chapman was touring the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Kirbyville-area hurricane response sites in Texas with SBC President Bobby Welch at the invitation of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Jim Richards.

Chapman said he was moved by the spirit of giving he saw and how it reflected the same spirit that marks Southern Baptists’ giving through the Cooperative Program.

“Visiting some of the SBC churches, large and small, serving as relief centers in the Rita disaster areas, I am reminded that so many are giving faithfully, Sunday after Sunday, through the Cooperative Program. It is their sacrificial contributions that make it possible to give $12.5 million to respond to the disaster recovery needs of our Southern Baptist family.”

Meanwhile, designated giving for fiscal year 2004-05 totaled $189,729,833.87, which was 0.38 percent, or $719,566.28, above gifts of $189,010,267.59 received for 2003-04. The $6,438,605.38 in designated gifts received in September was $2,665,508.68 above the $3,773,096.70 of September 2004, a 70.65 percent increase.

Combined, Cooperative Program giving and designated gifts of $385,678,256.42 for the year were up $6,802,733.98, or 1.80 percent, above the combined $378,875,522.44 received in 2003-04.

In releasing the end-of-year figures for 2004-05, Chapman, who also serves as treasurer of the Southern Baptist Convention, encouraged Southern Baptists to set challenging goals in witnessing and in giving.

“I pray that our churches around the nation will press hard through the Cooperative Program to help us aid our ministers, churches and seminary, as well as supplement the extensive disaster relief ministry to the general public. As a reminder, I also urge that we press equally hard to meet our goal to baptize one million new believers this year.”

The Cooperative Program total includes receipts for national SBC causes from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the annual Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.

Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund and other special gifts.

State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions through the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. Distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention, but on average about 38 percent is forwarded to the national convention (SBC).

In evangelism, Southern Baptists have set a goal of witnessing, winning and baptizing one million new believers from Oct. 1, 2005 through Sept. 30, 2006.

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