NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A potential boost of $7 million for hurricane relief efforts could come from the strength of Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, announced Sept. 12 a recommendation to redirect beyond-the-budget SBC receipts to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state and regional conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention. Contributions received for national SBC entities are distributed according to the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
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.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s 43,000 churches met the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for 2004-05 on Sept. 12, providing the needed base of funding for the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, the six SBC seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other SBC operations.
Chapman said he will recommend that all Cooperative Program gifts between Sept. 12 and the end of the SBC’s fiscal year, Sept. 30, go directly to disaster relief -– a recommendation to be placed on the agenda for the Executive Committee’s Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
The receipts will be put to work in three ways: 50 percent for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, which suffered extensive damage from the hurricane and subsequent flooding in the city; 25 percent for the North American Mission Board, which coordinates SBC Disaster Relief efforts nationwide; and 25 percent for relief ministry by the state Baptist conventions in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, distributed proportionally to their needs.
A potential $7 million could be distributed, Chapman said.
In addition, Chapman said he will recommend that the same formula be followed with beyond-the-budget receipts for the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget during the first quarter of the new fiscal year.
“Hurricane Katrina is the most devastating natural catastrophe ever to hit the United States,” Chapman said, noting: “To the degree of its chaos, destruction and displacement, it may not happen again in our lifetimes. And because of the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists have been able to respond swiftly and generously.”
The initiative, Chapman noted, was discussed in a conference call with the presidents of the SBC’s 11 entities and the SBC auxiliary Woman’s Missionary Union.
Chapman said the leaders enthusiastically embraced the initiative, which calls for a funding sacrifice by those entities supported by the Cooperative Program.
“Because Southern Baptists have given faithfully through the Cooperative Program since 1925, and especially this year, we are able to take the extraordinary step of recommending that all CP monies oversubscribed to the CP Allocation Budget between now and Dec. 31 go directly for disaster relief,” Chapman said.
“Without the Cooperative Program, we would not have all the organizations in place to respond immediately and effectively to a crisis while continuing our normal operations in ministry, missions and theological education,” Chapman continued. “Without the faithfulness of Southern Baptists in giving through the Cooperative Program, the SBC, including its national entities, would not be in position to allocate emergency funds to disaster relief.”
And, taking a larger view of the Cooperative Program, Chapman said, “Without the strength of the Cooperative Program, SBC entities would not have the assurance their ministries would continue from year to year, our missionaries would have no assurance they could remain on the mission fields and our seminary students would receive no tuition scholarships to ease their financial burden of preparing to follow God’s will throughout their lives.”
Contributions through the Cooperative Program should be made to the local church.
Contributions to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund can be made online, www.SBC.net, by phone, 1.888.571.5895, or by mail to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund, North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.