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Fla. Baptists commit $1.5 million in added Cooperative Program giving

LEESBURG, Fla. (BP)–Florida Baptists will send an additional $1,561,175 to the Southern Baptist Convention in Cooperative Program receipts this year to fund missions and ministries internationally and across North America.

“At a time when other state conventions are cutting their support, we are sending $1.5 million in additional money to the SBC,” said John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.

The Florida Baptist state board of missions designated $2.6 million from the 2000 Cooperative Program budget surplus during its Jan. 26 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Assembly near Leesburg. Included in the designation was $578,152 earmarked for the SBC Cooperative Program.

That amount, combined with the $983,023 in additional Cooperative Program funds that will result in the 2001 budget growth, will total $1,561,175 in “new money” provided by Florida Baptists to the SBC during the 2000-2001 fiscal year, Sullivan said.

An amount of $100,000 will fund “Project Cooperation,” an effort to enlist and educate Florida Baptist churches not currently giving to the Cooperative Program, while a $30,000 allocation will underwrite the work of a sanctity of life position at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.

Cooperative Program gifts in excess of the 2000 budget were disbursed into two categories, with $1.18 million earmarked to Florida Baptist Convention budgetary needs and $1.44 million allocated to unrestricted items. Underfunded budget needs as endorsed by the Florida Baptist Convention Strategic Plan included funding for pastoral assistance, $300,000, and camps and assemblies facility improvements, $233,000.

The $1,445,381 in unrestricted allocations were divided in percentages consistent with the year 2000 budgetary distributions including the SBC, 40 percent or $578,152; The Baptist College of Florida, 5.9 percent or $85,277.48; Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, 3.9 percent or $56,369.86; Florida Baptist Financial Services, $20,000; and Florida Baptist Historical Society, $50,000.

Another $300,000 will be made available to Florida Baptist associations to assist in local mission and ministry needs. An additional $169,496 in funding will make up a deficit in Maguire State Mission Offering income.

Funding totaling $186,085 was provided for the convention’s website redesign, disaster relief needs and convention reserve needs, while $518,415 was provided for deficit accounts, including employee salary gifts, debt retirement and automobile account deficit.

At the suggestion of Charles Sexton of Big Pine Key, a $10,000 allocation was taken from reserve funds and designated for the Annuity Board’s Adopt An Annuitant program for retired ministers living on substandard monthly stipends.

In other action, the board created a Cooperative Program Endowment Fund. The Cooperative Program endowment fund was created to provide annual interest-only earnings as budgetable income for mission and ministry causes in Florida and the Southern Baptist Convention. The new fund will merge several fund balances created from several estates that named the Florida Baptist Convention as beneficiary. The creation of the endowment fund is a goal outlined in the Florida Baptist Convention Strategic Plan, 2001-2003, in an effort to strengthen financial resources to accomplish the Great Commission.

At this meeting, the board also approved a new position of director of strategic endowed giving which will seek to secure additional financial resources. A candidate for the new position is expected to be recommended to the board in May.

Knowing that seriously declining churches sometimes require additional funding to maintain their existence, the Church Revitalization Loan Program was approved by the Board. The loan program will be available to churches involved in the convention’s Church Revitalization Program, which is designed to offer a team approach to assist these churches in positive-growth activities.

The revitalization loan will be interest free for the first six months after disbursal and require an interest only payment at 8 percent to be paid in the next six months. The remainder of the loan will be repaid on a monthly basis for 10 years at 8 percent interest.

Ken Alford of Tampa made a motion to explore the feasibility of a new policy that would require 40 percent of all funds received over budget be designated as SBC Cooperative Program. “It seems to me it’s a matter of integrity to our churches that give to keep the percentage at the same level,” he said.

Babb Adams of Inverness responded, “I want us to be careful not to hamstring ourselves with this. As a general rule, you can trust the integrity of this body.”

Board members were reminded that the 2001 Advance Budget approved by the Florida Baptist State Convention in November already contains such a distribution. The motion to study the matter carried.

Also at the meeting, David Burton was elected to the position soon to be left vacant with the retirement of Jerry Passmore, director of the evangelism division. In 1989, one of the first actions taken by Sullivan as the new executive director was to heighten the visibility of evangelism within the convention staff by giving it a division level status. Jerry Passmore of Pensacola was selected by Sullivan to create this new division, which included a place on the convention’s highest management level, the administrative staff.

    About the Author

  • Barbara Denman

    Barbara Denman is communications editor for the Florida Baptist Convention. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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