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IMB trustees OK record budget, two partnership agreements

PORTLAND, Ore. (BP)–Trustees of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board unanimously approved a record-setting 2001 budget of $254.1 million, after the board’s chief financial officer noted giving to the Cooperative Program recently has been especially strong.

The new budget includes $239.6 million for operating, $13.5 million for capital and $1 million for special contingencies. The budget reflects a $12.55 million, or 4.84 percent, increase over the board’s 2000 budget of $241.6 million.

The Cooperative Program is expected to provide 35.93 percent of the new budget, with the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering projected to raise 45.79 percent. The rest of the new budget will come from investment income, hunger and relief funds, undesignated giving income, field generated funds, unallocated revenues from prior years and other sources.

In his report, Carl Johnson, who is retiring early next year as the IMB’s vice president for finance, expressed appreciation to Southern Baptists for their consistent financial support, through both the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Johnson said he believes the Cooperative Program’s strength is such that it will be able to withstand current tensions in the Southern Baptist Convention. He pointed out that the Cooperative Program was $18.7 million over its projected budget when the fiscal year ended in September.

Highlighting the Portland, Ore., trustee meeting was an appointment service for Southern Baptists’ 33 newest overseas missionaries. The event, held in conjunction with the opening night of the Northwest Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Portland, drew an audience of about 1,900.

During an executive session not open to the public because personnel matters were discussed, trustees also approved a report from its trustee and staff partnership committee, which affirmed the leadership of IMB President Jerry Rankin, including the board’s New Directions policy, which Rankin has championed.

Trustee chairman Tim McCoy of Macon, Ga., said the committee was formed last spring in response to tensions that developed between the trustee board and IMB administration over handling of the renovation of the agency’s Richmond, Va., office complex, as well as other administrative matters.

Trustees also approved a staff report requested by the SBC Executive Committee on cooperative partnerships overseas.

Prior to the report’s approval, the board’s 14 regional committees examined in detail every partnership with other groups overseas.

The report states: “The objective of bringing all the peoples of the world to saving faith in Jesus Christ is not just our mission; it is God’s mission as clearly and explicitly expressed in the Bible and in His call to make disciples of all nations. We must recognize that God has called many who exalt the name of Jesus to His kingdom purpose. The task is not ours alone.”

It continues, “… it behooves us to coordinate efforts with other evangelicals who have a conversion theology and share our conviction that apart from Jesus Christ one is lost and bound for hell.

“Much of the work of the IMB is done in affiliation with Baptist associations, conventions and unions overseas,” it says. “These are indigenous and autonomous local bodies over which the Southern Baptist Convention and IMB has no control and authority. However, our working partnerships with these Baptist groups around the world allow us to exert a great deal of influence to maintain doctrinal integrity, and our personnel serve to facilitate the effectiveness of these entities in their focus on evangelism.”

The report concludes with a note that the IMB has carefully defined working relationships with other agencies and organizations “in order to protect our doctrinal integrity and the stewardship of Southern Baptist resources, especially in the indigenous churches that are planted and multiply as a result of our mission efforts.”

In his farewell to trustees, Johnson, who is retiring after 21 years at the helm of IMB finances, praised the IMB financial officers who held the job before him, saying they struggled with debt and limited resources but laid excellent groundwork for the board’s current prosperity and ability to dispatch a missionary force approaching 5,000 worldwide.

Calling Johnson a “denominational statesman,” IMB Executive Vice President Don Kammerdiener said, “Our only regret is we could not keep you longer.”

Trustees named David A. Steverson, an associate vice president under Johnson, as the interim vice president for finance and treasurer, and set up a committee to search for a permanent successor.

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  • Louis Moore