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Lottie Moon forecast shows 4th straight record year


RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Projections show Southern Baptists last year handed the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions its greatest annual increase since 1988 — to a record $93.5 million.

Calculations from early indicators predict a $4.5 million, or 5.06 percent, increase from $89 million in 1995. It would be the fourth consecutive rise after a plateau in the early 1990s. The collective growth since 1992 amounts to $12.5 million.

The projection immediately brought to mind the Scripture quotation “where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is also,” said Don R. Kammerdiener, executive vice president for the Foreign Mission Board.

“That’s a lot of treasure to go into world missions,” he said.

“I just feel very good about it, that Southern Baptists have said this is still of bedrock importance to us. It indicates they still feel the way they’ve always felt about their mission task,” he said.

The projected receipts would provide about $2.5 million for overseas capital spending needs such as new construction and vehicles, and $91 million for the board’s overseas operating budget, which primarily provides missionary support.

“This says to me our missions spirit is very much alive among our Southern Baptist people,” said James D. Williams, president of Southern Baptists’ Brotherhood Commission, which helped promote the offering. “This is a time in Southern Baptist life when our focus needs to be on the whole world … and taking the whole gospel to the whole world.”

Last fall, board trustees approved a 1997 budget of $205.5 million based in part on $94 million from the 1996 Lottie Moon offering and $72.5 million from the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan.

Built into the 1997 financial plan is expected expansion of the foreign missions program, especially in harvest areas such as Eastern Europe where gospel response is accelerating and in “The Last Frontier,” where few people have access to the gospel.

“With this offering … we will be able to continue appointing missionaries at the rate the Lord sends them to us, at the rate we’re appointing them,” Kammerdiener said.

Last year the board appointed 590 overseas mission workers for assignments of two years or more, a record number of new workers in a year’s time. The annual number of new workers has been rising steadily for several years.

Southern Baptists will celebrate their participation in world missions “when we gather one day around God’s throne with people from all the tribes, tongues and nations of the world,” said Dellanna O’Brien, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union.

“We are grateful to the millions of Southern Baptists who gave of their financial resources and focused their prayers on our missionaries, on Christians in the areas they serve, and for the salvation of the lost worldwide,” added O’Brien, whose missions education agency organized the first Lottie Moon offering in 1888.

Southern Baptists actually close the books on the 1996 offering May 31. The annual March projection, historically reliable as an estimate, is based partly on information from Baptist conventions in 14 states. Thirteen of these states are showing increases in their Lottie Moon receipts, and the other is down only .15 percent.

The offering is generally collected in churches during December. It is expected to fund nearly half (47 percent) of the board’s budget. Besides the Cooperative Program (36 percent), other sources include investment income (8 percent) and hunger and relief receipts (3 percent), designated income (2 percent) and 4 percent from other sources.
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  • Marty Croll