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IMB trustees ‘stand together’ with SBC agencies on Cooperative Program

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (BP)–Southern Baptist International Mission Board trustees approved a resolution on the Cooperative Program controversy in Texas, received word that the board’s chief financial officer is retiring, authorized raises for missionaries and elected a new regional leader for Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Highlighting the Sept. 25-27 board meeting was the appointment of 40 new career and associate missionaries in a service in the Evansville (Ind.) Convention Center, cosponsored with the State Convention of Baptists of Indiana.

In their resolution, trustees unanimously said they “stand together with the churches, boards, agencies and institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention in their affirmation of the Cooperative Program.”

The resolution, though it doesn’t use the word “Texas,” is clearly aimed at the controversy involving Baptist General Convention of Texas committee recommendations to cut more than $5 million in funding to the six SBC seminaries, the Executive Committee and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Another BGCT committee is studying missions funding involving the IMB and the North American Mission Board. That report is expected to be released after the BGCT’s Oct. 30-31 annual meeting in Corpus Christi, Texas, where the first funding cut proposals will be acted upon.

“The Cooperative Program is being threatened by some that are attempting a unilateral breach of this historic 75-year partnership between Southern Baptist churches and the boards, agencies and institutions they have supported,” the resolution says.

“We encourage all Southern Baptists to resist any effort that would threaten to diminish the Cooperative Program and call upon the churches to maintain the historic partnership that has existed between the local congregations, state conventions and Southern Baptist Convention boards, agencies, and institutions.”

Carl Johnson, the IMB’s longtime and highly respected vice president for finance and treasurer, told trustees he will retire Jan. 1 “in order to spend more time with my family.”

Johnson, 63, who has been the IMB’s chief financial officer the past 20 years, joined the IMB in 1979.

His administrative responsibilities as chief financial officer included accounting, finance, missionary financial support, investments, travel and freight, purchasing and facilities.

During the past 20 years, major financial changes at the IMB include diversification of board investments — from which investment income now provides 11 percent of the board’s budget — and comprehensive and substantial improvements in missionary financial support.

“For 20 years Carl Johnson’s leadership in financial management and fiduciary responsibility has been an asset in the growth and effectiveness of the IMB,” said President Jerry Rankin. “We regret the time of his retirement has come but are grateful for the foundations he has laid for future missions advance.”

IMB Executive Vice President Don Kammerdiener said, “As the IMB’s treasurer and vice president of finance, Carl has rubbed shoulders with the chief financial officers of many Southern Baptist agencies and institutions. Today, there is no one in the denomination who is more recognized for combining professional financial skills with personal spirituality and denominational understanding.”

Johnson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees and an honorary doctorate from the University of Richmond, where he also served as a trustee. He has served as moderator of the Richmond Baptist Association, president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and as chairman of deacons and president of the endowment fund at First Baptist Church of Richmond.

Prior to joining the IMB staff, Johnson served in financial positions in the real estate, telecommunications, paper manufacturing and transportation industries, as well as public accounting.

Before he retires, Johnson will complete work on the board’s 2001 budget, which is expected to reach a record-setting $251.1 million. Trustee action on that budget will take place at the November board meeting in Portland, Ore.

In their September meeting, IMB trustees approved one item to be included in the budget — a salary increase for missionaries, beginning in 2001. The raise amounts to $100 a month for career and associate missionary couples. Raises for single and other missionary categories are based on a formula keyed to the raises for career couples.

Trustees also honored veteran missionary Herb Barrett, who during the past 10 years has helped the IMB solve a financial dilemma created by Taiwan government regulations that prohibit funds from the sales of properties being moved out of that country.

Trustees also unanimously approved missionary John Brady as the new regional leader for Northern Africa and the Middle East. He succeeds Larry Cox, who is the new vice president for the IMB’s office of public relations and development. Brady joined the IMB in 1993.

In his report to the board, Rankin said consultations are underway with state conventions to design models of partnership and coordination that will help each entity personalize missions and mobilize churches. He said IMB representatives have met with staff from South Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma.

“Communication with other state executives since our consultation [in July] gives me confidence that this model of consultation and planning together will be implemented in other states as well,” he said.

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  • Louis Moore