TOPEKA, Kan. (BP)–Messengers to the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, facing a funding shortfall, approved a 2004 budget $300,000 below the current budget.
It allocates $50,000 less to Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program missions and ministries, a move marked by great reluctance by convention leaders. However, the messengers voted to restore the funding as soon as possible.
Messengers gathered Oct. 13-14 at Western Hills Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.
Action on the budget was tabled Monday night, Oct. 13, after passionate pleas not to cut Cooperative Program giving. However, a poor economy in Nebraska and Kansas, along with a decline in stewardship teaching in churches, were among the reasons cited for the budget shortfall.
The 2004 budget, at $5,177,526, is nearly $300,000 below the current budget.
“This is a tough year as many of you know in your churches,” R. Rex “Peck” Lindsay, KNCSB executive director, said as he began the 2004 budget presentation during the Monday night, Oct. 13, session.
Lindsay cited a general economic downturn — in agriculture in western parts of the two states, along with technology and aircraft industries in metropolitan areas — which has left churches struggling to meet their own budgets.
Lindsay outlined the actions taken to reduce expenses:
— A freeze on equipment purchases.
— Cuts in field ministry expenses.
— Not filling vacant positions.
— Reducing the number of staff members shared with associations and churches.
— Cutting staff annuities by 2 percent.
— Reducing giving to the national Cooperative Program by 1.75 percent or $50,750. “That was the hardest thing to cut,” Lindsay said of the cut in CP Missions giving.
KNCSB President Glenn Davis agreed with Lindsay, saying, “This is not the message we want to send” in cutting CP giving.
The KNCSB representatives on the trustee boards for the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board pleaded for the reduced CP allocation to be restored.
Terry Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., is chairman of NAMB’s board of trustees, while Bo Graves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Haysville, Kan., is the KNCSB trustee representative on the International Mission Board.
Jeff Dial, pastor of Celebration Baptist Church in Wichita, joined Fox and Graves in urging for the CP giving to be restored. Dial also serves as moderator of Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association.
KNCSB receives $1,462,248 in funding from the North American Mission Board.
“We’re biting the hand that feeds us,” Fox said. “I have a great caution in my spirit tonight.”
Graves urged KNCSB to become self-supporting instead of depending so much on NAMB assistance. He challenged Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist churches to support the Cooperative Program and double their gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
“It is so important that we take seriously the Cooperative Program because that’s what binds us together,” Graves said.
Action on the budget was tabled until the Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 14, session.
Doyle Smith, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Great Bend, Kan., explained the reasoning behind the 2004 KNCSB budget. Smith is a past KNCSB president and now serves as president of the Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist Foundation, making him an ex-officio member of the KNCSB executive committee, which drafts the convention’s budget. Work on the 2004 budget began in August when KNCSB’s Cooperative Program receipts were running more than $200,000 behind the previous year.
Smith called the 2004 budget “very, very conservative.” He reiterated, “This budget is not what anybody wants.” God has the resources, but those to whom He has given those resources haven’t given them to their churches, which pass on a portion of their receipts to the state convention, he said.
The KNCSB executive committee has the constitutional authority only to bring the budget as printed in the Baptist Digest and the KNCSB Book of Reports to the convention floor. It does not have the authority to present an amended budget to messengers. However, the budget can be amended by a motion from a messenger.
So messengers approved the 2004 KNCSB budget as printed. Then Matt Culbertson, a member of the KNCSB executive committee, presented an amendment instructing the committee to look at receipts at the end of 2003 and restore both the cuts in Cooperative Program giving and staff annuities if the money is available. Then in 2004, the executive committee is to review receipts quarterly.
The underlying reason for KNCSB’s budget problems is a lack of stewardship teaching in churches, Davis said, noting a need for educating members to support the Cooperative Program. A convention team was created in April to develop an overall plan for assisting Kansas-Nebraska churches in the area of stewardship.
Nikki Riley, a messenger from Bethel Baptist Church in Lincoln, Neb., made the same point during the Monday evening budget discussion. “We are not teaching our children about the Cooperative Program,” said Riley, who is a children’s consultant for Kansas-Nebraska Woman’s Missionary Union.
Messengers unanimously elected Ray Kempel as the new KNCSB president. Kempel, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Hutchinson, Kan., had served as the convention’s vice president for the past two years.
Culbertson, pastor of Southview Baptist Church in Lincoln, Neb., was unanimously elected vice president during the Tuesday afternoon session.
Bryan Jones, pastor of First Baptist in Junction City, Kan., was re-elected recording secretary, while Tony Mattia, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Wamego, Kan., was re-elected historical secretary.
Messengers, in a resolution, commended Yvonne Keefer, who served for 30 years, first in campus ministry and then in WMU, and Sue Lindsay, who served the KNCSB for 20 years as the convention’s church media library consultant.
In other resolutions, KS-NE Southern Baptists were urged to:
— Contact their legislators to oppose expanded gambling in any form due to the destructive effects it will have on families.
— In Kansas, to contact legislators in support of changing the Liquor Control Act to be uniform for the entire state to prohibit all liquor sales on Sundays.
— Contact their U.S. senators and congressmen to support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
— Establish committees in their churches to support religious liberty and educate themselves and their communities on the need for informed Christian action. Church members were encouraged to make every effort to exercise their God-given rights to public comment in editorials, school board meetings, city, county and state governmental meetings and to vote their conscience according to the leadership of the Word of God.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 11-12 at Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kan.
Randy Cowling, editor of The Baptist Digest, contributed to this story.