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Ohio Baptists make CP giving history during annual meeting

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CINCINNATI, Ohio (BP)–It took an increase of just a quarter of a percent to make Cooperative Program giving history in the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio at their 53rd annual meeting Nov. 8-9 at Friendship Baptist Church in Cincinnati.

Messengers increased their giving through the Cooperative Program for national and international missions and ministries to 40.25, which records indicate is the largest percentage Ohio Baptists have ever committed to give.

The move was a response to action taken by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, N.C., earlier this year encouraging increased support for the Cooperative Program. The convention called for all Southern Baptists to tithe, all churches to give more through CP and all state conventions to increase the percentage of CP distribution to SBC causes.

Ohio Baptists expressed a goal to reach a 50/50 split of CP receipts from churches, where only half would stay in the state. Future increases in the amount forwarded to the SBC will depend on the degree of sustained increased giving from Ohio churches, leaders said.

Messengers approved an overall budget of $8.4 million for 2007, representing a 4 percent increase over the current year. Anticipated Cooperative Program giving from Ohio churches is $4.8 million for the coming year, up 2.5 percent from 2006. A resolution accompanying the CP increase called for Ohio Baptists to tithe and for churches to increase their CP giving percentages.

Another resolution urged churches affiliated with the SCBO to contribute through the Cooperative Program in excess of the cost of premiums for protection benefits and retirement matching funds for pastors in light of a move by GuideStone Financial Resources to reduce its contributions incrementally through 2011.

Messengers also approved a resolution thanking LifeWay Christian Resources for its assistance with Cleveland Hope and Mission Ohio, two strategic partnerships. LifeWay joined the Cleveland Hope partnership with the Greater Cleveland Association, the SCBO and the North American Mission Board.
Through Cleveland Hope Foundations, LifeWay provided a personal growth consultant to 17 churches for two years. And through the Smaller Membership Church Growth Plan, LifeWay helped 13 Cleveland Hope churches experience an 18 percent increase in Sunday School attendance.

LifeWay, through its Arctic Edge Vacation Bible School, helped 35 Cleveland Hope churches enroll nearly 2,500 children this summer. That represented a 49 percent increase over last year, and 130 of those children made professions of faith, according to the resolution.

David Gray, pastor of First Baptist Church in Garrettsville, was elected president of the convention, and Travis Smalley, pastor of Lakota Hills Baptist Church in West Chester, was elected first vice president. Ron Hopkins, pastor of Briggs Road Baptist Church in Columbus, was elected second vice president.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 7-8 Cuyahoga Valley Community Church in Broadview Heights.

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