CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP)–At the last of four scheduled meetings sponsored by Conservative Carolina Baptists, about 50 pastors and laymen met Oct. 27 at Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis, N.C., and heard Durham-based evangelist Ted Stone defend and explain a motion he will present at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting that would return the convention to one giving plan.
Stone offered the motion last year and will offer it again at this year’s meeting, which will take place Nov. 14-16 in Winston-Salem. The motion would abolish the convention’s multiple-giving plan and return it to the historic, single option, Cooperative Program giving plan. Stone says he will deliver his motion on Tuesday of the convention and will request it be voted on by secret ballot.
Since 1991, the state convention has offered multiple giving plans from which churches can choose; the number of giving plans now is four. The plans were created from dissatisfaction among some state leaders about the conservative direction of the Southern Baptist Convention. But Stone and some other conservatives have blamed the options for weakening missions efforts at both the state level and around the globe.
Stone’s motion proposes a traditional 65/35 percentage split, with the larger percentage funding the state’s general budget and the smaller percentage going to the Southern Baptist Convention. Stone says his plan would boost SBC funding.
Presently the SBC receives 32 percent in Plan A (the original CP plan) and Plan D. The SBC receives only 10 percent under Plan B and nothing under Plan C, which instead allots 10 percent to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group that broke away from the SBC because of disagreement with the election of conservative leaders. Plans A, B and C give 68 percent to the state convention budget, while Plan D trims the state allotment in favor of special ministries and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.
Stone told Baptist Press that “we should be ashamed of our state’s minimal gifts to our national convention,” pointing to neighboring states that give more to the SBC than does North Carolina “We have shortchanged the SBC, and thus, we have shortchanged the Lord.”
Allan Blume, executive vice president/treasurer of Conservative Carolina Baptists and pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, chaired the meeting. Greg Mathis, former BSCNC convention president who had represented the convention’s budget committee at previous meeting and is pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, was absent from the meeting.
“It never was the intent of the Cooperative Program to support the CBF,” Blume, told conservatives. “[Optional giving] was moved into the budget process when moderates were in leadership. [Moderate pastors] understood they couldn’t carry their churches along to leave the convention. They could only have their churches support what they thought was the Cooperative Program.”
In the three previous meetings, Mathis defended the proposed state budget, which seeks to keep the four optional giving plans instead of returning to a single-option plan. Mathis has said that under the proposed budget, money given to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship would not count as Cooperative Program money, as it currently does under one of the plans.
But Stone said that while the proposed budget would eliminate direct CBF funding as counting as CP giving, funds given to CBF partners would still count as CP money.
“The only part of CBF giving removed from credit as CP giving is the amount sent directly to the CBF national budget under Plan C,” Stone told Baptist Press. “This new budget still allows Cooperative Program credit to gifts through Plans B and C that go to CBF entities and affiliates, such as scholarship money designated for students attending non-SBC theological institutions such as the CBF Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and the scholarship gifts to students attending the divinity schools at Campbell and Gardner-Webb University, both of which have strong ties to the CBF.
“Recently, at the 10th anniversary celebration of Campbell’s divinity school, the featured speaker was the national leader of CBF. Both of these plans also continue to fund the Associated Baptist Press, and this is also counted as CP giving. This ought not to be.” Associated Baptist Press is a CBF partner, having received 29.7 percent of its budget from CBF in 2004.
Mathis said at a meeting in Wake-Forest Oct. 20 that he preferred a “surgical” approach over a “chainsaw” approach to the budget. The chainsaw analogy presumably was in reference to Stone’s approach.
“The problem with a chainsaw approach is that a lot of things you might not want to affect would be affected,” Mathis said Oct. 20. “Maybe some good things you wouldn’t want to hurt might be hurt. And so, I’ve never chosen to take that route.”
Stone disagreed with the chainsaw analogy.
“If Jesus were to come soon, do you think that He would be receptive to such a reason for going slow in carrying out the Great Commission as ‘we wanted to do it in a slow, precise, surgical manner?'” Stone asked.
“We are failing to adequately fund our missions efforts in meeting new challenges around the world,” Stone added. “And we are failing to adequately fund our six seminaries who are preparing those for Christian service who have been called by our Lord. If it takes a chain-saw approach to get rid of the forest of multiple giving plans and return to the Cooperative Program way of doing missions together, then so be it. We must get on with doing the Lord’s business.”
Blume, while saying he was speaking personally and not as a representative of an organization, indicated that he would support Stone’s motion as long as it contained adequate support for Fruitland. He asked: If there was only one giving plan in place, would conservatives instead choose to support four giving plans?
“I’ve felt all along that none of these extra giving plans have been of any value except to create division,” he said. “It’s a strange thing to me that we talk about Cooperative Program, and then we divide it up and un-cooperate.”
Stone said his motion would provide more funding for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Henderson, N.C., a school conservatives have championed, than it currently receives under Plan D. Stone said his motion would direct the budget committee to include an amount for Fruitland no less than the total amount of funding provided for the smallest Baptist college in the state convention budget. Stone quoted Robert Simons, the convention comptroller, as saying that Chowan College, the smallest Baptist college, received $1,118,133 in the year 2004, while Fruitland received $870.242.
“Fruitland has done such an excellent job of providing a Bible education for young preachers, especially in western North Carolina,” Stone said. “There is no ceiling to the amount Fruitland can receive.”
With reporting by Norm Miller.