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CP definition approved at SBC

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–A definition of the Cooperative Program was among the recommendations adopted June 12 during the SBC Executive Committee’s report at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

Messengers also adopted the convention’s 2007-08 allocation budget, which increases funds for the three smallest SBC seminaries as well as the Executive Committee and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

According to the CP definition, “The Cooperative Program (CP) is Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries.”

In response to messengers’ questions, Morris H. Chapman, president and CEO of the Executive Committee, explained that the definition does not change any current policies or practices regarding CP giving. The definition was written in response to a request by the convention last year asking the Executive Committee, in consultation with state convention executive directors, to develop a definition of what is meant by CP monies.

“There has been no approved definition of the Cooperative Program through these years,” Chapman said. “And of course, because a lot of questions come at that point, perhaps that’s the reason we [haven’t] have one to this day.”

Mark Dever, a messenger from Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., asked whether the new definition would result in any change regarding who will be credentialed as a messenger at SBC annual meetings. Michael Lewis, vice chairman of the Executive Committee’s CP subcommittee, answered that the recommendation has “no bearing” on who qualifies as a messenger and will not result in any changes to present messenger registration policies.

Several messengers asked whether monies given directly to the national convention and not through a state convention count as CP dollars. Lewis explained that only funds given though a state convention recognized by the SBC count as CP giving.

“This is totally and completely consistent with both the intent and all the discussions of our founding fathers of the Cooperative Program going all the way back to 1925,” Bob Rogers, the Executive Committee’s vice president for the Cooperative Program, said. “It was there that the linkage between the churches and the state and the national office with regard to the Cooperative Program occurred.”

The allocation budget adopted by messengers includes one-time distributions of $347,710 to Southeastern, Golden Gate and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries. Those three seminaries will receive the equivalent percentage of the one-time distributions in subsequent years.

The budget also included an increase in the allocation for the ERLC from 1.49 percent to 1.65 percent, resulting in a net increase of $320,962, and an increase in the Executive Committee allocation from 3.32 percent to 3.40 percent, resulting in a net increase of $160,480.

The increased allocations come as a result of GuideStone Financial Resources informing the Executive Committee that it no longer needs its allocation of .76 percent for retired ministers or their widows with minimal or no pension income. Instead, GuideStone will incorporate those relief needs into its budget.

The 2007-08 allocation budget totals $200,601,536, including a convention operating budget of $9,225,551.