NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–State Baptist conventions across the country have affirmed their commitment to sending and reaching people for Jesus Christ through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program through resolutions and increases in giving approved at their annual meetings this fall.
David Hankins, vice president of Cooperative Program for the SBC Executive Committee, said he sees the increase as a reflection of the heart of Southern Baptists.
“Reaching people has always been the focus of Southern Baptists,” Hankins said. “Whether it’s people overseas or people across the street, people matter — and Southern Baptists continue to show this through their support of CP Missions.”
The Cooperative Program, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is Southern Baptists’ method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state and regional conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.
State and regional conventions retain a percentage of Cooperative Program contributions they receive from the churches to support work in their areas and send the remaining funds to the Executive Committee for national and international ministries. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.
Several states increased their budget support of SBC mission endeavors as part of Partners in the Harvest, the theme for the CP’s 75th anniversary celebration. Among them: California, Iowa, Nevada, Southern Baptists of Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. Increases ranged from one-quarter (.25%) of a percent to 1 percent of their budget percentages devoted to CP national and international missions and ministries.
David Schroeder, president of the Wyoming Baptist Convention and pastor of the North Cheyenne Baptist Church in Cheyenne, said he sensed that people are increasingly missions-conscious.
“The CP increase is indicative of a fresh passion for missions that seems to be building across Wyoming,” Schroeder said.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the newest state convention in the SBC, became the first in recent history to budget more of its Cooperative Program receipts to SBC causes around the world than it keeps within the state. Messengers unanimously approved sending 51 percent of CP gifts to SBC worldwide causes. By 2009 the SBC portion will reach 55 percent.
“By this, we are saying it is Jesus first and not Texas first,” said Jim Richards, SBTC’s executive director.
Another new state convention, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, meanwhile shares CP gifts from its churches on a 50-50 basis between SBC and SBCV outreach.
Among the states passing resolutions affirming CP Missions this fall were Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and West Virginia.
“Therefore, be it resolved, that we, the messengers to the 166th Annual Session of the Missouri Baptist Convention … wholeheartedly and enthusiastically affirm the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program,” Baptists in that state said in a resolution adopted during their annual meeting.
“The Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention is our primary missions agency,” said Sam Moore, a member of the resolutions committee for the Arkansas Baptist Convention. “I believe it’s the greatest mission endeavor of any denomination in the world.”
Describing CP Missions as “a vital, unified giving program,” Kentucky Baptists’ challenged their members “to continue to work together in the cooperative spirit embodied by the Cooperative Program to reach a hurting and lost world with good news of Jesus Christ.”
Among reports from the state conventions of support for the Cooperative Program:
— Messengers at Indiana Baptists’ annual meeting adopted a resolution to “express to all Southern Baptist churches and missions of Indiana our deep appreciation for their sacrificial giving to the cause of Christ through the Cooperative Program … .”
— Messengers to the Kentucky Baptist Convention adopted a resolution commending the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children for its “heroic commitment to … Christian moral values” as well as one affirming the 75th anniversary of the Cooperative Program. The CP resolution described it as “a vital unified giving program used by Kentucky Baptists to support missions and ministry here in Kentucky, throughout the United States and across the world.”
The resolution called on Kentucky Baptists “to continue to work together in the cooperative spirit embodied by the Cooperative Program to reach a hurting and lost world with the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Messengers also celebrated Cooperative Program giving with the annual meeting theme, “Partners in the Harvest.” A historical drama recounting the impact of the Cooperative Program and a mini-concert by Christian recording artist Clay Crosse highlighted the KBC’s Tuesday evening session.
— In Michigan, reports from the Baptist State Convention of Michigan included Peter Kendrick in cooperative missions, with testimonies of church planters highlighting the Partners in The Harvest theme. Resolutions approved included one affirming support of the Cooperative Program and its 75th anniversary celebration and a resolution committing afresh to evangelism in a pluralistic society.
— New Mexico Baptists celebrated being “Partners on Mission with God” during their annual meeting, while designating the Bible and support of the Cooperative Program as key criteria for seating messengers from local churches at state convention meetings.
— Messengers in Ohio adopted a resolution calling CP Missions “the lifeline of support for Great Commission missions,” noting that “an increasing number of leaders and members of the Ohio Baptist churches are products of missions supported by the Cooperative Program.” The resolution also noted the “great potential for a growing commitment to start and strengthen churches in Ohio and the world beyond through Cooperative Program support.”
— In addition to a resolution of support for CP Missions, Oklahoma Baptist messengers heard Executive Director Anthony Jordan underscore, “Oklahoma Baptists have given high priority to mission support at home and abroad through the Cooperative Program. Each of the last seven years we have set new records in giving. This has allowed us to make dramatic advancement in our mission efforts in Oklahoma, and pass on to Southern Baptist Convention causes additional resources to fund an ever-expanding response to a needy world.”
— South Carolina Baptists chose “Partners in the Harvest” as the theme of their Nov. 13-14 meeting. Through videos and testimonies, representatives of various ministries across the state, such as equestrian, seafarers, raceway, English teachers and disaster relief, were heralded as “faithful workers obsessed with the harvest of the kingdom.”
South Carolina Baptists also adopted a resolution urging increased giving as a means of celebrating the Cooperative Program’s 75th anniversary.
— Tennessee Baptists adopted a resolution noting that the Cooperative Program has been hailed “as the greatest mission giving program in the history of the world” and that Tennessee Baptists have given more than $623 million over the past 75 years “to support over 6,000 North American missionaries and 13,000 international missionaries, to educate 140,000 seminary students, and a host of college students, to start thousands of new churches, to fund countless benevolent and relief ministries, and to underwrite a whole array of other Christian endeavors.”
The Tennessee resolution commended the state’s churches “for their commitment to world evangelization and for 75 years of faithful giving,” and it encouraged “every Tennessee Baptist congregation to conduct a local Cooperative Program emphasis during 2001 and to consider prayerfully increasing by one percent the amount of their church budget giving through the Cooperative Program.”
— At the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention meeting, no formal resolutions were presented to messengers for approval. However, John McClung, director of missions for Utah and Gideon Baptist associations, moved that the state convention go on record as supporting the Cooperative Program and national leaders in view of what is happening in other state conventions. The motion passed unanimously.
— The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, in a resolution of Cooperative Program support, took note of CP changes proposed by leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and urged “all Southern Baptists in Texas and other states to stand with us as we resist those who would seek to dismantle the greatest method of Christian missions support and ministry training ever known.”
— Nearly 300 messengers and visitors from West Virginia Southern Baptist congregations celebrated their convention’s 30th anniversary as well as the Cooperative Program’s 75th anniversary during their annual meeting.
Messengers from West Virginia churches also unanimously affirmed the Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs as adopted in June at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., as well as unanimously endorsing the traditional support of missions through the Cooperative Program and the relationship between the WVCSB and the SBC.
— The Alabama Baptist State Convention, Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Baptist General Convention of Colorado and the Mississippi Baptist Convention also adopted resolutions of CP support. The Georgia Baptist Convention also held their meeting under the theme, “Partners in the Harvest.”
Cooperative Program receipts for November, meanwhile, held steady over the same month a year ago.
November receipts of $13,798,754 were approximately a half-percent (.58) below November 1999’s $13,878,738, according to Morris H. Chapman, Executive Committee president and chief executive officer.
In fiscal year-to-date giving, CP Missions gifts have totaled $28,288,415.58, an increase of 1.36 percent from the same October-November period in 1999.
In designated gifts for November, $3,669,470 was received, an increase of 55.07 percent over November 1999’s $2,366,373. In year-to-date designated giving, $5,934,656.70 has been received, marking a 21.35 percent increase from 1999.
For the SBC CP Allocation Budget, the $13,798,754 in CP giving was 98.56 percent of the budgeted $13,999,698.75, with the year-to-date percentage standing at 101.03.
The SBC Cooperative Program total includes receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2000-2001 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, world hunger and other special gifts.
(BP) logo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Logo title: COOPERATIVE PROGRAM.