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Record $155 million SBC 1998-99 budget proposed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A record $155 million Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for the Southern Baptist Convention for 1998-99 will be recommended to messengers at the June annual meeting in Salt Lake City.
Although a record $155 million, compared to this year’s $148 million, the proposed budget is nearly a mirror in percentages to this year. The proposal was approved by the SBC’s Executive Committee in its Feb. 16-17 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
As in last year’s budget, the International Mission Board would receive 50 percent, or $77.5 million, while the North American Mission Board would receive 22.79 percent, or $35.3 million. The two mission boards received $74 million and $33.7 million, respectively, in last year’s basic budget with the same percentages.
The CP Allocation Budget is the method by which Cooperative Program receipts are distributed each year to 11 SBC entities. The Sunday School Board receives no CP funding, nor does the Woman’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the SBC.
A proposal to change the process of developing an SBC CP budget came to the first plenary session of the Executive Committee, Feb. 16, but a vote was delayed while further discussions were held. Later, the proposal, which would require a three-year basic budget with special mission initiatives for any funds received over the basic budget, was debated at the last Executive Committee session with a final vote postponed until the February 1999 meeting.
Although the six SBC seminaries together will receive the same percentage in the 1998-99 budget — 21.64 — the distribution to each seminary will be slightly different from last year. The seminaries will receive $33.5 million, which will be distributed to the six according to a special formula based on average full-time enrollments and other considerations.
Southwestern Seminary will receive $9.4 million or 6.1 percent ($8.9 million or 6.06 percent in 1997-98); Southern Seminary, $6.3 million or 4.09 percent ($6.4 million or 4.33 percent); New Orleans Seminary, $6.1 million or 3.96 percent ($5.9 million or 4.01 percent); Southeastern Seminary, $5.4 million or 3.48 percent ($4.7 million or 3.19 percent); Golden Gate Seminary, $3.1 million or 1.99 percent ($2.9 million or 1.97 percent); and Midwestern Seminary will receive $2.7 million or 1.77 percent ($2.7 million or 1.84 percent).
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will receive $2.3 million or 1.49 percent in the proposed budget compared to this year of $2.2 million, also 1.49 percent.
The Annuity Board will receive about $1.2 million, .76 percent, while the SBC Operating Budget will receive about $5.1 million, 3.32 percent. Those two facilitating ministries of the SBC received about $1.1 million and $4.9 million, respectively, in this year’s budget.
As in recent years, the proposed budget also includes a Capital Needs Budget. All receipts over the basic Cooperative Program Allocation Budget are allocated equally to the Capital Needs Budget and Program Advance (using the basic budget distribution model). The SBC Capital Needs Budget has been scheduled over a 10-year period, 1990-91 through 1999-2000, with capital needs funds distributed annually on a percentage basis. It represents an extension of the Capital Needs Budget first adopted for the period 1984-88.
In the proposed Capital Needs Budget, the North American Mission Board would receive $1.70 million or 19.31 percent; Golden Gate Seminary, $1.02 million or 11.52 percent; Midwestern Seminary, $1.08 million or 12.27 percent; New Orleans Seminary, $1.23 million or 14.89 percent; Southeastern Seminary, $892,314 or 10.08 percent; Southern Seminary, $1.33 million or 15.04 percent; and Southwestern Seminary, $1.58 million or 17.89 percent.
Responding to a recommendation from a special Baptist World Alliance study committee, the Executive Committee approved a $425,000 distribution in 1998-99 for the BWA which is included in the SBC Operating Budget. In this year’s budget the BWA received $417,838. The special study committee, requested by SBC President Tom Elliff and appointed by Executive Committee Chairman James G. Merritt in September, met twice with BWA officials.
The eight-member study committee recommended to the Executive Committee that “in keeping with the obligations of faithful stewardship” there be an ongoing review of the relationship between the SBC and BWA, and “based on good faith discussions with BWA leadership” proposed the $425,000 distribution.
The study committee also noted “the officers and staff of the BWA have indicated their desire for current Southern Baptist leaders to become more involved at all levels of the BWA. Without reservation, the (study) committee affirms Southern Baptists need to relate to Baptists of the world and strongly desire that this may be facilitated in part through participation in the BWA. Good stewardship requires the SBC continually to evaluate and assess supporting relationships with non-SBC organizations.”
Changing the process in how the SBC CP Allocation Budget is created has been discussed informally by the Executive Committee for years. At the February 1997 EC meeting, a special Budget Process Study Committee was created to look at the process which basically has the individual SBC entities make annual appeals before the Cooperative Program Subcommittee which then develops a budget for Executive Committee and, eventually, SBC approval.
When the study committee revealed its recommendations a year later, at the 1998 Executive Committee meeting, some reservations were expressed by seminary presidents. The recommendations would require a three-year basic budget, with Cooperative Program Subcommittee members evaluating the yearly progress of the SBC entities on goals and objectives.
The study committee also recommended any funds received over the basic budget go into a pool called Special Mission Initiatives. How that fund would be distributed would follow a process of suggestions by the Inter-Agency Council (executives of all SBC entities) given to the Cooperative Program Subcommittee in February following the end of the SBC fiscal year, Sept. 30.
The distribution of that SMI fund would be primarily for special projects, such as reaching America’s urban-density areas. If approved by the Cooperative Program Subcommittee and the Executive Committee, the proposed SMI fund would get its final approval from the SBC annual meeting and then be distributed.
However, discussions during the two-day Executive Committee meeting revealed concerns by the seminary presidents in the loss of the capital needs budget after the year 2000 and whether the seminaries would be able to fit into a Special Missions Initiative proposal in future years.
When the Budget Process Study Committee introduced its recommendations at the first session of the EC, a Petoskey, Mich., pastor, asked for more time for EC members to study the proposal. When it was brought back to the floor the next day, some EC members expressed both concern about the recommendation and confusion about its content while others defended the proposal as timely, creative and effective.
Eventually, John Robbins, a Grand Junction, Colo., pastor, moved to postpone the vote on the proposal until the February 1999 EC meeting. His motion was approved by a majority vote of the 81-member group but with some opposition.
In related developments:
— the Executive Committee approved, as a recommendation at the Salt Lake City meeting, a $6,175,185 1998-99 SBC Operating Budget as part of the Comprehensive Summary of Operating Budgets of all SBC entities. That recommended total includes income from the SBC Operating Budget portion of the CP Allocation Budget, designated gifts, contributions from the Baptist Sunday School Board, interest/dividends and other revenue.
— approved a 2 percent salary structure increase for Executive Committee staff in 1998-99.
— approved a Flexible Benefits Plan for staff that permits employees to contribute pre-tax dollars to pay qualifying medical and dependent care costs.

    About the Author

  • Herb Hollinger