NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–If he were alive today, Cooperative Program originator M.E. Dodd would warn Southern Baptist churches not to circumvent CP by designating their gifts to specific entities rather than giving through the SBC’s unified giving program.
That is the opinion of Dodd’s granddaughter, Virginia Joyner, church historian at First Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., where Dodd pastored for nearly 40 years. During that pastorate, he chaired the committee that recommended CP to the SBC in 1925.
“He would say, ‘Keep it all together. Do the missions. Do all of the work. Do the relief and everything out of the Cooperative Program,'” she said of her grandfather.
Lamenting the fact that some congregations replace a portion of their CP giving with designated offerings to specific SBC causes, Joyner said such a plan distorts Dodd’s original vision.
“I think the Cooperative Program is being fractured, and we need to pull it back together again and keep it intact,” she said.
Joyner also noted that her grandfather had unique leadership skills and likely would have used it to combat disunity in the SBC today.
“I think that if my grandfather had been living today, the Southern Baptist Convention would not be in the condition it’s in today,” she said. “I believe that he would have kept it together because he was that kind of man. He was kind and sweet, and he would have kept all the sides together if he could have.”
Before CP, fielding financial appeals from various Baptist ministries detracted from Dodd’s pastoral work, Joyner said. She noted that he would not want contemporary pastors to reassume funding allocation decisions and voluntarily take on the burden that he helped them cast aside.
“He would say, ‘Keep up the Cooperative Program. Do not let it break off and do missions out of part of it,'” Joyner said.