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Lottie Moon receipts surpass goal for first time since 1981

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–For the first time since 1981, Southern Baptists surpassed their goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. When the books closed May 31, the 1997 offering totaled $100,064,318.10.
The $7 million increase from 1996 was the second-largest in history and helped produce the offering’s fifth straight record year. The increase alone was greater than any single Lottie Moon offering before 1960.
The strong showing “indicates Southern Baptists’ heart for reaching the lost and being on mission with God,” said Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board. The entire offering will support the board’s overseas budget.
“Exceeding $100 million is a reflection of God’s faithfulness to provide the resources needed to reach our world with the saving message of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The receipts will enable the board to use $1.45 million for “a long-overdue salary increase across the board to missionary personnel” and provide them with $2.5 million for “badly needed capital for strategic needs,” Rankin added.
In May, board trustees decided on raises ranging from $100 per month for career and associate couples to $33 a month for single International Service Corps and journeymen missionaries.
As costs to support missionaries have risen sharply during recent years, many capital expenditures for needs such as housing and automobiles in strategic areas have had to wait.
“We are absolutely ecstatic we did go over the $100 million goal,” said Dellanna O’Brien, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union, the agency which founded the offering 110 years ago. “We don’t anticipate ever falling below $100 million again.”
The offering, generally collected in churches during December, will fund nearly half (47 percent) of this year’s budget of $210.8 million. The rest will come from Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan, the Cooperative Program, and other income, such as investments and hunger and relief receipts.

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  • Marty Croll