REVISED March 10 to add new paragraph 16 and the phrase “and other funding” to paragraph 9.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The North American Mission Board has published a correction to the data it provided the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and was published in the GCRTF interim report.
NAMB accepted responsibility for the previous incorrect information, saying facts it had provided the task force last summer contained a “significant error.”
NAMB issued the statement subsequent to a report about the task force’s work by religion writer Bob Smietana in The Tennessean, the second largest daily paper in the state.
In that article, Smietana wrote that the task force “says two-thirds of the mission board’s missionaries and money goes to the South while one-third goes to pioneer states.”
“However, according to the mission board, fewer than half of their missionaries are in the South. While the board spends $62 million on cooperative agreements and state programs, more than three-quarters of that money, $48 million, goes to pioneer states.”
NAMB said the misunderstanding was created by information contained on page 19 of the task force report, depicting how Southern Baptist resources are distributed throughout the U.S. and that shows only 33 percent of its missionaries are assigned outside “the 14 states most often considered to be the area where Southern Baptists are the strongest.”
In actuality, NAMB said there are 2,733 missionaries serving in the 36 states outside the “old line” region in the southern U.S. and another 133 serving in Canada for a total of 53 percent deployed in North America where there aren’t large numbers of Southern Baptists.
NAMB attributed the discrepancy to double counting of missionaries in Virginia and Texas which each have two state conventions.
In the statement on its website, NAMB also clarified that more than three-fourths of the $62 million it disperses in cooperative agreements and other funding goes to the 36 pioneer states and Canada. NAMB said the $48 million goes to support work “where Southern Baptist church presence is the least.”
Although referred to as “pioneer” areas for the SBC, these states and Canada contain several of the largest urban and metropolitan areas in North America.
Richard Harris, NAMB’s interim president, said NAMB immediately took action when the error was discovered.
“We found the error Friday while in the process of gathering data for a media inquiry,” Harris said in a statement to Baptist Press. “As soon as we discovered the mistake, we notified the GCR Task Force.”
Harris added, “We will leave it to the GCR Task Force members and others to determine the significance of these new numbers, we just wanted to provide this information as soon as we discovered it so the rest of the discussion can include the correct data.”
Ronnie Floyd, GCRTF chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale Ark., said the change in missionary numbers did not alter the major concern of the task force.
“[W]e spend 2/3 of the Cooperative Program dollars on 1/3 of the population and conversely spend only 1/3 of the Cooperative Program dollars on 2/3 of the population in the United States,” Floyd said.
The 2/3 and 1/3 CP comparison primarily is a ratio of CP dollars the churches of the various state conventions contribute to their respective state’s work. The 14 “southern” state conventions have large numbers of SBC churches and consequently benefit from more total CP dollars than the 36 states in “pioneer” areas which have significantly fewer SBC congregations.
Floyd said the online manuscript of the progress report has been updated with the corrected NAMB information.
Will Hall is executive editor of Baptist Press.