ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–North American Mission Board trustees, in their regular meeting Sept. 27, affirmed a report from its Interdenominational Task Force that explained the agency’s relationship with non-Southern Baptist groups, learned that 114 new missionaries had been appointed since the board’s last meeting in June and adopted a 2001 budget of $126 million.
The Interdenominational Task Force was formed earlier this year after a request from the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, which is studying ecumenical involvements of all SBC agencies in response to a motion referred from the 1999 SBC annual meeting.
The task force’s report notes four areas at NAMB that have been the primary focus of questions:
— The relationship with Mission America, a group that encourages churches to participate in the Celebrate Jesus 2000 goal of praying for and sharing the gospel with every person in America by the end of this year.
— The current state of Roman Catholic/Southern Baptist conversations, a yearly meeting of Southern Baptist and Catholic leaders where respective beliefs are discussed. The meetings are important “to help us better understand the Catholic faith for purposes of evangelism and to share without compromise Southern Baptist distinctives on critical issues,” the report says.
— The National Pastor’s Prayer Network, an Internet site and e-mail list operated independently by NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities coordinator for Chicago.
— The funding of non-Southern Baptist students as summer missionaries.
The last item was addressed by the board with a recommendation approved by the full board that NAMB funding only be provided to student summer missionaries who are members of Southern Baptist Churches. Full details of the other areas of concern were provided in the report, with no significant problems found by the task force.
The task force noted that all of its relationships with non-Southern Baptist groups are governed by NAMB’s “Guidelines for Interdenominational Cooperation” that have been in place since 1997.
The NAMB budget for 2001 of $126 million is 5.6 percent less than the current year’s budget but represents a return to a more normal level of spending, reported Mike Day, vice president of strategy development.
“NAMB increased its level of spending the last two years in order to launch new strategies and put more money on the mission field. Part of that money came from an intentional reduction of our reserves. We wanted to put that money on the field rather than have it on the bank, so to speak,” Day explained. “Next year we won’t be spending reserves, and we’ll have a reduced income from those investments because the principal is smaller and because of downturns in the investment market. Therefore we’ve returned to a more normal budget for the agency.”
Day emphasized, however, that even though the overall budget is smaller, the amount of money going to the mission field through cooperative budgets with state Baptist conventions will increase by $2 million, or 5 percent.
“Budget differences from this year to next will result from changes in strategies across the board, but will not affect the amount going to the mission field,” Day said.
The board also approved deeding seven acres of land north of Miami to the Seminole First Baptist Church rather than selling the property to the Seminole tribe of Florida. The 100-member church has been meeting on the property since its inception in 1936.
The tribe announced plans this past summer to acquire the property and an additional 20 acres owned by NAMB to expand its gambling operations located on adjoining property. Mission officials considered possible options that might convey some property to the tribe while affirming that the board would not allow the property to be used for gambling.
Randy Singer, NAMB’s executive vice president and an attorney, told the board he is now convinced there is not a reliable way to restrict use of the land once its sold to the tribe. Therefore, he recommended, and the directors approved, deeding acreage to the church. Singer told the board the remaining 20 acres would be used for ministry by the church, the local Baptist association and/or the Florida Baptist Convention.
In other business, the board:
— approved a resolution calling for the most recent revision of the Baptist Faith and Message statement to be used “in all matters pertaining to personnel, missionaries, chaplaincy, or other areas where references to or use of the Baptist Faith and Message might occur.” Reccord said the board has been “doing this already” and the resolution was adopted simply “to bring our policies in line with our practice.”
— met the agency’s new director of organizational development, who oversees such areas as human resources, missionary recruitment and processing, staff training, office support and facilities services. Valerie Lamm previously served as manager of the agency’s employment services unit. Also introduced was Randy Wood, a NAMB/former Home Mission Board staffer since 1995, who replaced retiring missionary personnel manager Bill Graham, effective Sept. 1.
— learned the board’s Chaplaincy Commission had endorsed 15 new chaplains and pastoral counselors and updated endorsements for another 38.