EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of the SBC’s October emphasis on the Cooperative Program, Baptist Press will provide readers with extra news and information detailing the scope and depth of the Cooperative Program and its impact for the Kingdom. Using vignettes and profiles of churches and individuals, as well as historical and ongoing accounts, our intent is to explain the Cooperative Program not just as a funding channel but as one of the critical ties that bind Southern Baptists in voluntary fellowship for cooperative ministries and missions.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–It is a simple Gospel with the power to change lives. These five churches understand that every effort is valuable and every believer is called to share Christ with the world. Through the Cooperative Program, what Southern Baptists do together makes a worldwide, eternal impact.
WHEN NO CHANGE IS GOOD
Cotton is king in the Texas Panhandle and the terrain is as flat as the horizon. At First Baptist Church in Lamesa, the steady support of missions through the Cooperative Program mirrors the unchanging landscape of the Texas plain.
The church’s longstanding commitment to putting love in action through the Cooperative Program is unfazed by the up-and-down cotton industry that members depend on for their livelihoods.
“We believe we can do missions more affectively if we join with other Southern Baptists,” pastor Chris Powell said. “Even in times of budget constraints, we felt it was good stewardship to give through the Cooperative Program.”
First Baptist Church’s total members in the 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,700; baptisms, 5; primary worship attendance, 350; undesignated receipts, $540,968; Cooperative Program, $109,852; CP percent, 20.3; total missions expenditures, $103,334.
THOUGH A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
In the scenic pine belt of southern Mississippi, the town of Monticello might be called the perfect place to raise a family. Life in the quiet community on the banks of the Pearl River is centered in its churches and schools.
Yet Monticello Baptist Church remembers the world in need of a Savior.
“This church has a long tradition of wanting to reach people around the world,” pastor Tim McCaffrey said. “The greatest way to do that is through the Cooperative Program. It’s the best method out there.”
Monticello Baptist Church’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 840; baptisms, 5; primary worship attendance, 250; undesignated receipts, $660,810; Cooperative Program, $109,038; CP percent, 16.5; total missions expenditures, $136,260.
A GROWING SWELL
The three-day retreat for Costa Rican pastors was like a pebble in a pond. West Hartselle Baptist Church of Hartselle, Ala., led the retreat that forged new unity and fellowship among the indigenous pastors. The resulting wave of kinship and cooperation continues to push back barriers to the Gospel.
Likewise, every gift to missions through the Cooperative Program is a drop in a growing swell carrying the Gospel to distant shores.
“The hour is late. We need everybody working together,” pastor Jack M. Redfearn Jr. said. “We still believe that the CP is the way to do missions.”
West Hartselle’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,044; baptisms, 13; primary worship attendance, 345; undesignated receipts, $610,274; Cooperative Program, $109,717; CP percent, 18.0; total missions expenditures, $173,808.
A COMMUNITY OF NATIONS
Change happens, even in peaceful communities in the rolling foothills of Appalachia.
Edwards Road Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., is reminded daily of a call to missions.
The name a nearby school adopted for itself heralds the city’s shifting population — “A Community of Nations.” Service evangelism is helping the church build bridges to the city’s new families.
“We give to the Cooperative Program because we are strong believers in our Southern Baptist ministries here, nationally and internationally,” pastor Aaron Rayburn said. “That is our identity.”
Edwards Road’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,913; baptisms, 20; primary worship attendance, 529; undesignated receipts, $1,177,384; Cooperative Program, $182,627; CP percent, 15.5; total missions expenditures, $311,182.
AT HOME, BUT NOT ALONE
A focus on learning and living by God’s Word makes Pilgrim Home Baptist Church in Newton, Ala., a refuge for the believer. But the church in the quiet town in the corner of the state has the world on its mind.
“We give to the Cooperative Program because we believe in reaching out beyond ourselves,” pastor Buddy Hood said. “We do what we can do here, and then we give to CP to reach the uttermost parts of the earth.”
Pilgrim Home’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 744; baptisms, 8; primary worship attendance, 205; undesignated receipts, $307,404; Cooperative Program, $85,380; CP percent, 27.8; total missions expenditures, $115,206.
Marilyn Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.