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CP emphasis unfolding from Hawaii to New England

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The enthusiastic response that messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June gave to a Cooperative Program report envisioning “what more we could do” is being embraced by many state Baptist conventions this fall.

Several states like Louisiana and Arizona are embracing the CP Advance Plan that moves their conventions toward giving an increasing percentage of receipts to SBC missions causes. Others like Utah-Idaho, while not overtly embracing the CP Advance Plan, are incrementally increasing the portion for SBC ministries while some like Colorado are motivating their churches to move toward giving at least 10 percent of undesignated gifts through the Cooperative Program.

Last spring, an Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee recommended a CP Advance Plan whereby state conventions commit to allocating half of CP receipts over and above their budgets to SBC national and international missions and ministries. Instead of suggesting an annual incremental increase or a certain number of years to complete, the strategy is built on the concept of a 50/50 division of future cumulative dollar increases in Cooperative Program contributions that a state may receive above its budget.

Under the proposed plan endorsed by messengers in June, state conventions would adopt a CP budget that is not more than the total income of the previous 12-month period and set the initial percentage division between the SBC and the state. The next fall, a new budget is based on total income received with the same percentage division between SBC and the state. Once the budget is met, any overage is distributed with half going to the SBC and the other half remaining in state. Another budget again computes the actual amount received in the last 12-month period and becomes the goal for the upcoming year and the percentage sent to SBC changes to what was actually given in the previous year, including the 50 percent of excess funds.

This approach helps a state convention to give an increasing amount to SBC missions causes. “The faster the income grows, the faster the percentage will grow,” said David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. “The dream of the founders of the Cooperative Program can be realized — a shared missions process that aggressively propels the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”

This fall, various state conventions are recommending budgetary changes that increase the portion of their CP receipts to be allocated to SBC causes, including:

— Arizona Baptists will be asked to consider adopting the Cooperative Program Advance Plan as a part of affirming the larger Cooperative Program report adopted by the messengers at the SBC in Greensboro this past summer. This advance plan will allow Arizona Southern Baptists to move forward in passing along a greater percentage of Cooperative Program dollars to national and international missions causes. “We are indeed excited to be a partner of greater influence as we move forward in Arizona,” stated Steve Bass, executive director for ASBC.

— Arkansas Baptist State Convention messengers will consider their Budget Formula Study Committee’s recommendation to increase the portion of CP funds by a fifth of a percent each year over a five-year period beginning in 2008. Initially the percentage would move to 41.97 percent and increase to 42.77 percent by 2012.

— California Southern Baptist Convention messengers will consider an increase from 27.25 to 28 percent to SBC/CP causes that will provide another $178,501 if the budget goal is met.

— Colorado’s 10/10 Cooperative Program, approved by messengers in mid-October, sets a goal of increasing the average portion given through the CP by Southern Baptist churches in the state to a level of 10 percent by 2010. Colorado Baptist General Convention staff will take advantage of the CP Champion emphasis developed by the SBC Cooperative Program office along with a multimedia presentation in encouraging the state’s Baptists to become engaged in the vision.

CBGC Executive Director Mark Edlund shared plans to have a CP Champion visit each church in the state to promote the Cooperative Program “as the greatest, most blessed Kingdom-impacting system ever.” Financial planning seminars will be offered to better equip members of the churches to give to missions, he added.

If all the Colorado churches that do not give 10 percent through the CP were to increase their giving by just 1 percent, an additional $375,000 in annual receipts would be received. Moving all churches to the 10 percent level would generate an additional $1.8 million in annual CP receipts, according to projections of the CBGC task force that developed the strategy.

The strategy advances opportunities for CP missions awareness and education, sets forth an Acts 1:8 passion and perspective, and incorporates CP and stewardship education into church planting training and support. Missions and partnership efforts will emphasize helping volunteers appreciate the foundational work done through CP missions.

— The Dakota Baptist Convention is developing a plan to increase CP dollars as well as the level of support that the DBC commits in its partnership with the North American Mission Board. In adopting the nine recommendations from the Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee as passed by messengers to the SBC, DBC Executive Director Jim Hamilton recognizes such commitments will be difficult. “However, we believe it is a necessary part of growing up as a new work area,” he told Baptist Press. “We also want to contribute more as a partner to win the world to Christ,” Hamilton said, referring to an Acts 1:8 mindset.

Messengers to Dakota Baptists’ annual meeting will be asked to confirm the nine recommendations and celebrate CP partnership among Southern Baptists. To date, the convention is reporting a $20,000 increase over last year’s CP giving. “That doesn’t mean much to a large convention, but in a pioneer area, it is significant,” Hamilton said, voicing hope that the DBC budget will be met for the first time in its three years as a state convention.

— The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana will follow its policy of increasing the percentage of CP contributions to the SBC based on the prior year’s actual CP receipts over budget. The proposed 2007 budget anticipates an increase of a quarter percent in the portion sent out of state, increasing from 32.76 percent to 33.01 percent of undesignated receipts.

— The Kentucky Mission Board is recommending that the state’s Baptists increase CP allocations for SBC causes by about .35 percent annually over a four-year period to begin 2006-07, reaching 37.4 percent in the final year. “The recommendation also includes a plan beyond 2010 to reach 40 percent going to SBC missions, in an incremental way, based on 3 percent annual growth in CP giving with some allowance for CPI,” said Bill Mackey, executive director of the Kentucky convention.

“Celebrate Cooperation!” will be the theme of one evening session of the Kentucky convention, with videos, testimonies and entity and board reports highlighting CP throughout the meeting.

— Louisiana Baptists will vote on adopting the CP Advance Plan encouraged by the Ad Hoc CP Committee report.

— Maryland-Delaware Baptists will consider dividing any budget overage by allocating 75 percent to SBC missions and ministries and utilizing 25 percent in state, and every church will be challenged to include Cooperative Program giving in its budget.

— Michigan Baptists will vote on a recommendation that CP giving outside the state increase from 30 to 30.5 percent.

— New York Baptists increased the CP portion by a quarter percent, bringing the 2007 commitment to 27 percent. “The Administrative Committee of the Executive Board and I have a standing agreement that each year’s budget will reflect such an increase while moving toward 50 percent,” said Terry Robertson, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New York.

Referring to the churches in northern New Jersey, part of Connecticut and part of Massachusetts that are part of the New York convention, Robertson said they have benefited greatly from the mission commitment of Southern Baptists. “Increasing the convention percentage commitment to the Cooperative Program each year is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we are churches partnering together,” he said.

— The Nevada Baptist Convention continues to increase the portion of CP gifts allocated to SBC ministries, recommending a move to a level of 29 percent next year.

— New England Baptists will vote on a budget that features a quarter-percent increase in the portion of CP receipts going out of state, part of a multi-year commitment to increase giving to SBC missions and ministries.

With time set aside for CP testimony, New England Executive Director Jim Wideman hopes it will be informative “for the many new Christians who are a part of our churches.”

— New Mexico Baptists will be asked to approve sending to SBC causes half of all receipts received in excess of the budget.

— North Carolina Baptists begin the second year of a two-year budget that increases by half a percentage point giving to SBC. With a division of 67/33 in 2007, the budget also calls for a half-percent increase to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for those churches giving thru Plan C of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, spokesman Norman Jameson said. “Just as we are encouraging our churches to view missions beyond their walls, we are responding, as they do, to missions beyond our state through Cooperative Program missions giving,” he said.

— Ohio Baptists are recommending the CP Advance Plan, encouraging all members of affiliated SBC churches to tithe to their local churches and give sacrificially to Southern Baptist worldwide missions, as well as increasing their CP giving percentage over the next five years.

“As long as increased giving from affiliated churches enables a sustained trend of income that supports Mission Ohio,” SCBO will move incrementally toward the goal of a 50/50 distribution of funds between Ohio and SBC causes, Executive Director Jack Kwok said. “As an encouraging example and model, the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio will adjust the distribution of Cooperative Program funds between Mission Ohio and worldwide Southern Baptist missions from 60/40 to 59.75/40.25 in the 2007 Mission Budget.”

— Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma will distribute 60 percent BGCO and 40 percent Southern Baptist Convention after 1 percent is used for Cooperative Program promotion. The 1 percent will include an aggressive plan to promote CP using multiple sources.

“In Oklahoma we prepare a video for use at the convention each year highlighting the Cooperative Program impact of the previous year,” said BGCO Cooperative Program/stewardship specialist Bob Shelton. “We also plan to highlight the 100th anniversary of the BGCO at a special centennial rally and will have a portion of the program that focuses on the history of the CP in Oklahoma and a closing challenge to ‘Hold the Ropes’ for our missionaries.”

— The Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey continues its 15-year run at increasing the portion that SBC causes receive from CP giving by two-state convention’s churches. Executive Director David Waltz’ goal is to eventually reach a 50/50 split, moving this year from 24.8 to 24.9 percent.

— South Carolina Baptists will consider a proposed budget that includes a provision that any gifts exceeding budget requirements be allocated to a Kingdom Challenge Fund, with 50 percent earmarked for SBC causes and 50 percent for the South Carolina Kingdom Challenge Fund.

— Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia continue to split CP giving evenly between SBC and state missions and ministries. At their 10th anniversary meeting, Executive Director Doyle Chauncey said, “The whole program is built around four strategic objectives of where CP funds are used. Everything we do is about cooperation, so we tell the story of where their CP funds are going.”

— Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will consider its pattern of increasing the percentage of undesignated receipts passed on to SBC causes from the current 53 percent to 54 percent in 2007. Convention President Steven Swofford of Rockwall, whose church gives 18 percent through the Cooperative Program, urged churches to follow SBTC’s example in giving. “We can do so much more together than we can individually,” he noted, adding, “The day is over, or should be, when our leadership doesn’t practice what it preaches.”

— Utah-Idaho Baptists will vote on a budget that incorporates a .05 percent increase in the portion of CP receipts going to SBC entities, an action encouraged at last year’s annual meeting.

Since beginning his ministry with the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention five years ago, Executive Director Timothy Clark has overseen a greater focus on the Cooperative Program. “No one person on staff was responsible for CP promotion,” Clark recounted. “In fact, our state mission offering was being used to support the convention budget.”

As the state convention staff began promoting CP, an upward trend in giving was noticed. In 2004 receipts from churches provided enough funds to meet the budget for the first time in 15 years. The following year giving increased by another $60,000 and mission offerings set new records. “The UISBC Executive Board listened and responded to talk in 2004 and acted in 2005,” Clark said. With the commitment to raise the SBC portion of CP gifts this year, Clark said there is a desire “to keep this before the convention for a possible increase in the future” as well.

In Hawaii, the Hawaii Pacific convention will be recognizing churches that increased their CP giving over the previous year. “The gifts to the CP each year, based on the amount per member ratio, is something we recognize in order to celebrate the spirit of giving, not just the amount,” Executive Director Veryl Henderson said. “A small church may give a lesser amount than a large church, but the per member giving is significantly higher than the large church. That’s worth celebrating.”

Several state conventions adopted stewardship as a theme of their annual meetings, including the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.

“Empowering Kingdom Growth through Cooperation” will be the theme throughout Arizona’s annual meeting, while the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s stewardship focus will be “Grace Giving.”

In conjunction with the annual meeting of Nevada Baptists, an International Mission Board commissioning service will help keep the focus on missions under the theme of “Made to Count.” NBC Executive Director Thane Barnes also reported, “The Cooperative Program will be a part of every facet of the conference.”

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  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter