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N.C. Baptists to decide on unified giving plan

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–While the incorporation of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will be one of the main items on the agenda at next week’s state convention in Winston-Salem, there could be much discussion on a motion to change four giving plans to one.

Ted Stone, president of Durham, N.C.-based Ted Stone Ministries, announced Oct. 28 that he will introduce a motion to restore the single giving plan of the traditional Cooperative Program as the sole method of funding missions outreach by North Carolina Baptists.

Since 1991, North Carolina Baptists have endorsed four optional giving plans, which were created from dissatisfaction among some state leaders about the conservative direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Stone’s motion also would ask the state convention’s general board and its budget committee to divide the Cooperative Program missions funds by allocating 65 percent for the state convention budget and 35 percent for the Southern Baptist Convention.

Presently the Southern Baptist Convention receives 32 percent in Plan A (the original CP plan) and Plan D. The SBC receives only 10 percent under Plan B and nothing under Plan C, which instead allots 10 percent of the national and international missions funds to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a constant critic of the SBC. Plans A, B and C give 68 percent to the state convention budget, while Plan D trims the state allotment.

Stone’s proposal would direct those responsible for drawing up the proposed budget to include funding for Fruitland Baptist Institute at an amount no less than the amount designated for the smallest North Carolina Baptist college (Chowan). Under this arrangement, Fruitland Institute would receive approximately $992,606 in 2006 compared to current funding of about $654,000 garnered from a combination of general board designation and additional proceeds gained through optional Plan D.

Stone’s proposed changes would become effective with the 2006-07 budget, which would be presented to state convention messengers in November 2005 at the annual meeting.

“I like the idea,” said Dale Robertson, pastor of North Main Baptist Church in Salisbury and secretary/treasurer of the state Pastor’s Conference for the past 12 years. “It gives more to the SBC. We have missionaries waiting to be appointed without money to send them. The seminaries are full of people who want to serve the Lord.

“I think this will benefit the Baptist State Convention as well. They’re going to bring back over 500 churches that currently give in Plan D. They’ll give to Plan A and restore gifts to the Baptist State Convention [budget], which has been diminished. They will give to church planting and missions efforts.”

In a survey of states near North Carolina, the other states are much more supportive of the SBC in doing national and international missions. South Carolina sends 40 percent of receipts to the SBC while Georgia provides 43.75 percent to the SBC. Tennessee and West Virginia designate 37.5 percent of CP funds to the national body, while the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the moderate convention, shares 34 percent of missions funds with the SBC. The other Virginia convention, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, provides 50 percent to SBC causes.

“Optional giving plans intended to do the impossible task of pleasing everyone at the table surely provide a recipe for disaster,” Stone said. “North Carolina is living proof. No church or convention can survive long, much less succeed, in doing our Lord’s will with four budget plans. These optional giving plans are similar to a cancer running wild, ravaging many of the essential ministries of both the state convention and the SBC. The longer we maintain these separate plans, the more difficult it becomes for those who benefit from a plan more favorable to their own personal interests to return to a single giving plan that benefits better the entire body of believers and, above all, the Kingdom of God.”

BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Jim Royston, former Executive Director-Treasurer Roy Smith and Tony Cartledge, editor of the Biblical Recorder, have led the charge in media articles calling for retention of the optional giving plans.

“Let me state clearly and firmly that such changes would be detrimental to missions in North Carolina and consequently, to our national and international mission efforts as well,” Royston stated in a column posted on the BSC website. “We’re doing things in North Carolina that no one else is doing — anywhere. No one else can do it. The need is here and God put us here to meet it.

“Any proposed budget change would be painful, damaging and unnecessary. The economy already imposed a $2.3 million budget cut last year. New changes would create no new missions dollars; they would alienate family members; and they would not have the intended effect of establishing a stronger SBC identity.”

According to Royston, North Carolina Baptists have increased annual giving to the SBC by $1.8 million over the past seven years. The state is “consistently among the top three state conventions in missions giving through the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings and cooperates on many levels with SBC entities in church starting, associational missions efforts, language missions, international partnerships, literature creation and distribution and demographic information.”

Stone, on the other hand, calls Royston’s fears “unfounded.”

“With the end of Option D, the state convention stands to gain over $1 million from this change,” Stone said. “Under Option D, state general budget funding was decreased in order to provide more money for Fruitland and other missions causes.”

David Weeks, pastor of Lagrange Park Baptist Church in Fayetteville, said he will back Stone at the convention. Weeks is still listed as a minister on Campbell University’s board of ministers even though he has not agreed with the Campbell Divinity School’s stand on the ordination of women as pastors and other stands against the inerrancy of the Bible.

“I’ve always been a Plan A person,” Weeks said. “We’re not anti-State Baptist Convention. You can’t cut a pie into so many pieces. People suffer. We should all go to one plan. We will continue to support both the SBC and the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.”

BSC officials expect between 3,800-4,000 messengers to attend the convention next Monday through Wednesday. This number is smaller than usual because none of the elected positions will be contested and many of the moderate Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina are expected to stay away. David Hughes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and head of Mainstream Baptists, was quoted in the Biblical Recorder as saying that the moderates did not have the votes to defeat Stone’s proposal and that defeat of the proposal would depend on the support of some conservatives.

“I believe that the adoption of this proposal will enable Southern Baptists who minister together in the state of North Carolina through the Cooperative Program to become truly cooperative in practice as well as in name,” Stone said. “I believe that North Carolina Baptists deserve the opportunity to vote on this important matter without the interference of detractors determined to defeat the purpose of this motion through any means available.”

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  • Jerry Higgins