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Sunday School Board trustees adopt budget, affirm ministry

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Trustees of the Baptist Sunday School Board approved a 1997-98 operating budget during their Sept. 15-17 semiannual meeting and affirmed the commitment of BSSB leaders “to do something for God now.”
The 1997-98 budget of $326,184,000 represents a 16.3 increase in revenue over 1996-97 projections of $280,431,000. Trustees also approved a 1997-98 fixed and intangible asset budget of $20,500,000.
For the year ending Sept. 30, trustees were told the agency projects income to be about $1 million dollars under the budget of $281,422,861. However, funds provided from operations — revenue and other income remaining after costs for expenses and contributions for Southern Baptist Convention support have been deducted — are projected to be $13,162,791 compared to the budget of $12,004,347.
The 1996-97 results are expected to mark the third consecutive year of positive financial results after two years of losses, 1992-94. The board will pay off its one remaining loan Sept. 30 to become free of debt.
Because of good financial results, trustees were told there will be no across-the-board dated church literature increase for 1997-98. The prices of 24 periodicals will increase in the spring of 1998, but the increase will average about 0.8 percent compared to the 3 percent approved by trustees earlier this year.
BSSB President James T. Draper Jr. told trustees he and the board’s vice presidents agree the board must use its resources to transform lives and churches as never before.
“We recognize we stand under the incredible blessings of God with an enormous stewardship to advance God’s kingdom,” he said. “More than anything else, we have a desire to seek the Lord and to join him in his work of redemption in the world. … We are part of the kingdom of God, not just a business to distribute resources.
“Right now it just seems like every window of opportunity is open to us. … We want to do something for God now. We just want to take advantage of every opportunity,” Draper said.
In another action, trustees approved an amendment to the board’s charter adding the Southern Baptist Convention as the sole “member” of the corporation to clarify the rights of the SBC in relation to the board. The amendment, which also must be approved by SBC messengers, was requested by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee of all entities. Similar amendments have been approved by the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
This amendment “doesn’t give any new ability to the convention,” Draper said. “It just puts in writing what they have already claimed, that we belong to the Southern Baptist Convention.
During a report from the trade publishing division, Ken Stephens, division director, said Broadman & Holman expects to make a positive net contribution for 1996-97 of $2.1 million which represents a swing of $4 million from a loss of $2 million in 1994-95.
Stephens said B&H introduced a new line of gifts earlier this year and will launch a line of children’s books in 1998.
“Our goal now is to make a difference,” Stephens said. “Our emphasis is on our products.”
Gene Mims, vice president of the church growth group, said CGG priorities include an increased focus on Sunday school as a vital tool for evangelism and a one-year study of the kinds of resources needed to make a maximum impact on transforming the lives of Christians.
Mike Miller, director of the church leadership services division, said “We’ve made a commitment to give priority to stewardship education.” He cited a new periodical, Stewardship Journal, and Successful Christian Financial Management Seminars which have received 200 inquiries from churches in the first two weeks of their availability. Also, the board will release its first resources for Christian schools and home schools in 1998.
Mike Arrington, executive director for corporate affairs, said every available tool for communicating with Southern Baptists will be used over the next nine months to provide information and enhance understanding of the proposed new name for the board. Trustees approved Sept. 15 a recommendation to change the name to LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. The recommendation will be forwarded in February to the SBC Executive Committee with the request to place it on the agenda for the 1998 SBC annual meeting. If they agree, messengers attending the June 9-11 sessions in Salt Lake City will vote on the proposal.
Arrington said work is continuing on a nationwide capital campaign for Glorieta (N.M.) and Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference centers, with solicitation of major donors expected to begin within the next few weeks. “We’ve spent the last year developing volunteer support across the nation,” he reported.
The first $20 million raised in the campaign will be used for “renovation and restoration of existing facilities,” Arrington said. Additional funds will be used for new construction of projects such as wellness facilities at each center.
Mark Scott, vice president of the retail group, said five new Baptist Book Stores have been opened since February in Springfield, Mo.; Lewisville, Texas; Johnson City, Tenn.; Morrow, Ga.; and Plano, Texas. Also, independent Christian stores in Hickory, N.C., and Tyler, Texas, have been purchased as part of the chain. Stores in Memphis, Tenn., Kansas City, Mo., and Little Rock, Ark., have been relocated and the store at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has been remodeled.
Since launching the new ministers’ discount plan in August, approximately 2,000 ministers have participated, Scott said, noting, “We see this as a way we can minister to the minister.”
Also, he said the stores began collecting money for world hunger in June by placing canisters at the cash registers. More than $5,000 has been collected and sent to the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for distribution to the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.
“We see an unprecedented window of opportunity to build a Christian product pipeline to provide transformational products and servant-hearted service across the nation and ultimately the world,” Scott said.
Ted Warren, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said he is chairing an employee task force to develop strategies for making BSSB resources available to churches and individuals internationally. A recent visit has been made to Mexico and another is planned for Argentina and Chile.
Broadman & Holman, which currently generates 30 percent of its Bible sales in Spanish-language Bibles, will sponsor trade shows in Panama and Chile in 1998. B&H also sold 300,000 Bibles to an African distributor in 1997.
Trustees also:
— authorized the redesign of children’s music curriculum to strengthen its appeal to children for spiritual and musical development, effective with the fall 1998 issues.
— approved administration responses to three motions from the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention.
In other reports, trustees learned churches may now order dated literature electronically via the Internet through the board’s site on the World Wide Web, www.bssb.com. Internet ordering of Baptist Book Store resources is expected to available in the next year.

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  • Linda Lawson