A potential boost of $10 million for hurricane relief efforts could come from the strength of Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program.
Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, announced September 12 a recommendation to redirect beyond-the-budget SBC receipts to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The Southern Baptist Convention's forty-three thousand churches met the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for 2004-05 on September 12, providing the needed base of funding for the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, the six SBC seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and other SBC operations.
Chapman said he would recommend that all Cooperative Program gifts between September 12 and the end of the SBC's fiscal year, September 30, go directly to disaster relief – a recommendation scheduled to be placed on the agenda for the Executive Committee's September 19-20 meeting.
The receipts would be put to work in three ways: 50 percent for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, which suffered extensive damage from the hurricane and subsequent flooding in the city; 25 percent for the North American Mission Board, which coordinates SBC Disaster Relief efforts nationwide; and 25 percent for relief ministry by the state Baptist conventions in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
A potential $10 million could be distributed, Chapman said.
In addition, Chapman said he would recommend that the same formula be followed with beyond-the-budget receipts for the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget during the first quarter of the new fiscal year.
"Hurricane Katrina is the most devastating natural catastrophe ever to hit the United States," Chapman said, noting: "To the degree of its chaos, destruction, and displacement, it may not happen again in our lifetimes. And because of the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists have been able to respond swiftly and generously."
The initiative, Chapman noted, was discussed in a conference call with the presidents of the SBC's eleven entities and the SBC auxiliary Woman's Missionary Union. These leaders enthusiastically embraced the initiative, which will be no small sacrifice for those entities supported by the Cooperative Program.
"Without the Cooperative Program, we would not have all the organizations in place to respond immediately and effectively to a crisis while continuing our normal operations in ministry, missions, and theological education," Chapman continued. "Without the faithfulness of Southern Baptists in giving through the Cooperative Program, the SBC, including its national entities, would not be in position to allocate emergency funds to disaster relief."
And, taking a larger view of the Cooperative Program, Chapman said, "Without the strength of the Cooperative Program, SBC entities would not have the assurance their ministries would continue from year to year, our missionaries would have no assurance they could remain on the mission fields, and our seminary students would receive no tuition scholarships to ease their financial burden of preparing to follow God's will throughout their lives."