JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) — The Florida Baptist Convention sent an additional $500,000 in Cooperative Program funds to the Southern Baptist Convention Jan. 25.
The funds represented 51 percent of the $970,924 in budget overages from Florida Baptist churches to the state convention’s 2015 budget of $28.8 million.
“What a tremendous blessing from God for Florida Baptists to express our commitment to the Great Commission in our work together as Southern Baptists through this budget overage,” said Tommy Green, the convention’s executive director-treasurer.
“This means we will be sharing an additional $500,000 to the SBC beyond the $11,808,000 budgeted amount, bringing the total earmarked for the SBC to $12,308,000,” he said.
Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, voiced gratitude to the Lord “for the faithfulness of His people to support our state convention and SBC ministries through the Cooperative Program.”
“I have recently heard from [state convention executives] Rick Lance with Alabama, Terry Dorsett with New England, Terry Robertson in New York, as well as this wonderful news from Tommy Green in Florida,” Page said. “I have heard of several other states that have experienced overages in their CP as well. As in this case, several have shared this means an even greater percentage for national missions and ministries because of their state’s predetermined formulas for distribution. These state executives are excited about what God is doing through their churches, and we celebrate with them. We’re grateful for every dollar and rejoice over this particular good news coming from Florida. Praise the Lord!”
The 2015 giving of Florida Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program is the first time since 2007 when receipts exceeded the prior year, reversing a seven-year trend when CP receipts dropped by 25 percent.
Florida Baptists gave $29,770,924 through the Cooperative Program in 2015, exceeding the year’s $28.8 million budget by 3.37 percent and surpassing the 2014 giving of $29,643,195 by approximately $128,000, or 0.43 percent.
“I am thrilled we have reversed a declining trend in Cooperative Program receipts. We had dropped by 25 percent since 2007 in our Cooperative Program giving. The 2015 CP giving reveals the first yearly increase since that year,” Green said.
“The generosity of our Florida Baptist churches reflects their deep commitment to reaching the world for Christ.”
The decline over the seven-year period, which originally mirrored the downturn in the economy, was felt throughout the Florida convention, as receipts dropped from an all-time high of $39.61 million given in 2007 to $29.64 million in 2014.
But as time progressed, many Florida Baptists urged the convention to send a larger percentage of CP receipts to the SBC to reach the nations, rather than keeping the money in the state. In 2010, at the initiative of then Florida Baptist State Convention President John Cross, a Great Commission Task Force recommendation approved by messengers called for the state convention to move toward a 50-50 split of CP funds between Florida and the SBC. But little progress was made in subsequent years.
Then, this past November, under the leadership of Green as the new executive director, messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention approved sweeping budget revisions that would allocate 51 percent of the CP budget to the SBC. Green had pledged to present such a budget to messengers — “sending more than we are keeping” — when he assumed office the previous June.
Green said that decision of Florida Baptists to send 51 percent of the 2016 Cooperative Program gifts to the SBC and retain 49 percent for work in the state “is already being blessed by God.”
“Our next transition of the budget percentage will be a 55-45 percent split when we reach $34 million in CP receipts,” Green pledged. “I praise God for the faithful giving of our Florida Baptist churches to global missions through the Cooperative Program.”