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Seminary, CLC leaders see budget increases as urgent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Officials of two groups which get percentage increases in the proposed 1997-98 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget said the extra funds “vastly enhance our ability” and come “just in time.”

The six seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention will receive an additional 1 percent — to 21.4 percent of a total $148,185,077, or $31,711,606 — in the proposed budget, which must be approved by messengers to the SBC June meeting in Dallas. The additional 1 percent amounts to $1,481,850.

“The increased funding for theological education comes just in time, as costs have been escalating even as the Cooperative Program has provided a declining portion of the seminaries’ budgets,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., chairman of the Council of Seminary Presidents, told Baptist Press. “The seminaries will be good stewards of all funds directed to us through the Cooperative Program.”

Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., said the six seminaries are “the wonders of the world of theological education.” He cited graduates headed for front-line service on the mission fields, the church fields and “wherever God is at work among his people.”

The Christian Life Commission, soon to be the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, trustees and staff said in a statement to Baptist Press they are “humbled, gratified and excited by the … budget recommendation.” The CLC will be receive one-half of 1 percent increase in its share of the budget, from .99 percent to 1.49 percent. That translates into more than $770,000 in additional funds, bringing the total budget recommendation for the agency to $2,207,958 for 1997-98.

CLC President Richard Land said those who “unanimously proposed this CP allocation, join us in believing that never before has the nation more needed Southern Baptists to be the salt and light our Lord has commanded us to be.”
“We have long pleaded for significant funding increases to allow us to speak boldly for Christian truth with, and on behalf of, Southern Baptists in society and the public arena. In fact, the CLC in its 1997-98 annual budget request last November had requested an increase of $786,000. In that budget request, we laid out nine specific areas of initiative in which we proposed to use these additional monies,” Land said.

“We are grateful for the increased funding,” Land said, and “if approved … it will vastly enhance our ability to do many of the things that Southern Baptists have both pleaded and prayed for us to do in witnessing to our fellow citizens the truth of Christ.”

Land said there were three “high priority” projects proposed for 1997-98. He said the commission plans to be involved increasingly in the public policy issues related to marriage and family, including pornography and child advocacy from biblical and conservative perspectives.
Also, Land said the commission plans to employ another program staff and support staff person in the Washington office. “This will greatly enhance the commission’s ability to be more active in pursuing public policy initiatives of interest to Southern Baptists.”

A third project, called media initiatives, would have the commission produce and distribute a weekly radio program on moral and public policy issues for national distribution.

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  • Herb Hollinger