NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention finished its Oct. 1 – Sept. 30 fiscal year 1.89 percent ahead of budget, but Cooperative Program receipts for the year were down .65 percent and combined giving for the year was down .87 percent, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Morris H. Chapman.
“This is the first time in 15 years that both Cooperative Program and combined giving have not surpassed the previous year, and I think it reflects the impact of the recent economic crunch that has hurt so many American families,” Chapman said. “But it is remarkable that, given the severe economic strain the country has experienced, gifts to national efforts through the Cooperative Program still topped the $200-million mark for the third year in a row and overall giving to national causes surpassed the $400-million benchmark for a second straight year.”
The last time gifts through the Cooperative Program dropped was in 2000-01, but combined giving for national causes that year increased over the previous budget year, according to convention records.
Chapman praised the faithfulness of Southern Baptists, pointing out that despite variances in Cooperative Program and combined giving, the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget has been met and exceeded for 16 years.
“Simply stated, through tithes and offerings Southern Baptists continue to support the ministry objectives of SBC missions, theological education, and religious liberty, Chapman said. “One of my great joys in guiding the Executive Committee is to see firsthand how our churches believe and practice cooperative missions. We all are blessed to see how God multiplies our gifts though the outpouring of His Spirit upon our work around the world.”
A total of $204,385,592.63 was received by the Southern Baptist Convention during the fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008 — down by $1,331,241.37 (.65 percent) from the previous fiscal year’s $205,716,834.00.
An additional $203,016,164.07 in designated gifts, brought the fiscal year’s overall giving to spreading the Gospel worldwide to 407,401,756.70, a figure .81 percent below the previous year’s 410,713,334.84 figure.
For the month of September, receipts of $14,927,189.13 were $2,985,502.63 behind the $17,912,691.76 received in September 2007, a difference of 16.67 percent.
Designated year-end giving of $203,016,164.07 was $1,980,336.77 behind gifts of $204,996,500.84 for the previous fiscal year. The $4,282,901.27 in designated gifts received in September was $679,764.88 below the $4,962,666.15 received in September 2007, a difference of 13.7 percent.
For the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget, the year-end total of $204,385,591.63 was $3,784,056.34 above the $200,601,536.29 budgeted to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America.
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Cooperative Program total includes receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2007-08 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund and other special gifts.
State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.
Compiled by Will Hall, executive editor of Baptist Press and assistant editor Mark Kelly.