by Marilyn Stewart
First Baptist Church
Members of First Baptist Church in Hollis, Oklahoma, have an edge when it comes to understanding the work of the Cooperative Program: A living CP picture steps into the pulpit every Sunday.
First Baptist's pastor, Jim Westmoreland, was born and raised on the mission field, the son of now-retired International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries James and Nema Westmoreland who served in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
"I can put faces to the Cooperative Program for my church," said Westmoreland, who emphasizes to the congregation that the Cooperative Program does more than support Baptist entities.
Westmoreland is not the church's only personal connection with the Cooperative Program. Members Jared and Rebekah Motley were appointed as missionaries with the IMB last year.
"CP takes the Gospel to individual people," Westmoreland said. "It's important for us to do our part even if we are a small church in a community that is not growing." Hollis, population 2,200, is located on the plains of Oklahoma near the Texas Panhandle, where the flat landscape is broken up with canyons. Farming is the community's mainstay. The town boomed in the 1960s and '70s when agriculture was in its heyday.
Today, First Baptist nevertheless gives 27.6 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, in keeping with the way Southern Baptists work together the Acts 1:8 way — supporting state, national, and international missions and ministries at the same time.
The church's somewhat isolated location makes them wary of outside influences, so its members support authentic ways of missions giving such as the Cooperative Program, Westmoreland said.
"Cooperative Program giving has always been important to the church," Westmoreland said. "They recognized their responsibility through the years to join with others and be a part of a worldwide effort."
A strong Woman's Missionary Union and men's ministry have kept missions in front of the people and nurtured CP support over the years, Westmoreland said.
Mission trips to Central America, South America, and other places also have helped maintain the church's mission passion. Two church members, a pharmacist and a rancher, work regularly with medical missions and veterinary medicine missions teams.
Westmoreland also credits the 112-year-old church's commitment to putting love in action through the Cooperative Program to a long line of pastors who supported it and to the church's contact with missionaries through the years.
Locally, "Mission Hollis," a mission service project to help beautify the city square and struggling businesses, yielded positive results for both the church and community, Westmoreland said.
In addition, the recreation-based TeamKid discipleship program draws an ethnically mixed crowd of two hundred on Wednesday nights, instilling a heart for missions in the children.
First Baptist's total baptisms in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 8; primary worship service attendance, 200; undesignated receipts, $406,713; Cooperative Program, $112,334; CP percent, 27.6; total missions expenditures, $128,602.
Fleming Baptist Church
The Masters Tournament in professional golf played yearly in Augusta, Georgia, draws a large gallery of spectators. But at Fleming Baptist Church, mission service is not a spectator sport.
The church-wide mission involvement and the International Mission Board missionaries God has called from its membership gives them a personal perspective on missions.
"The Cooperative Program is a way for our people to partner with others for the cause of Christ and to do what we couldn't do alone," pastor Billy Atkins said. "We've seen it at work."
Fleming Baptist's total baptisms in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 18; primary worship service attendance, 478; undesignated receipts, $651,934; Cooperative Program, $108,548; CP percent, 16.7; total missions expenditures, $142,852.
First Baptist Church
Des Arc, Arkansas
The small delta town of Des Arc, Arkansas, along the White River, has seen its heyday. But First Baptist Church has its eye on the future and is growing up missionaries through mission service involvement for everyone, beginning with its preschoolers.
The vibrant church recently saw its second International Mission Board journeyman commissioned for service.
"We want to feed a mindset of missions for our youth," pastor Melvin York said. "We may be a small church, but we can touch the world from Des Arc through the Cooperative Program and through our mission work."
First Baptist's total baptisms in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 17; primary worship service attendance, 250; undesignated receipts, $342,533; Cooperative Program, $81,129; CP percent, 23.7; total missions expenditures, $121,019.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Hudson, North Carolina
Grandfather Mountain forms the horizon at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hudson, North Carolina. The name stirs a sense of legacy.
The century-old church's evangelism and missions education programs have forged a legacy generations deep. God has called from its membership three International Mission Board missionaries and several fulltime pastors, youth, and music ministers.
"We give through the Cooperative Program because of missions," pastor John Green said. "It hasn't always been easy, but we made that commitment a long time ago."
Mt. Zion's total baptisms in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 11; primary worship service attendance, 300; undesignated receipts, $393,724; Cooperative Program, $82,229; CP percent, 20.9; total missions expenditures, $124,167.
Woodland Baptist Church
Stand in the right spot on Sunday mornings at Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria, Illinois, and you will hear hymns sung in three languages. Sharing space with Korean and Chinese congregations was a plan the church knew would work.
A down-to-earth mentality is why the church is committed to reaching people through the Cooperative Program. Peoria's reputation for being a proving ground for what "plays" dates back to the days of Vaudeville entertainment. In Peoria, CP "plays."
"Missions is in the experience of our people, and it is our desire to be part of missions around the world," pastor Joel Newton said. "We give through the Cooperative Program to carry God's Kingdom to the world."
Woodland Baptist Church's total baptisms in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 4; primary worship service attendance, 287; undesignated receipts, $506,971; Cooperative Program, $82,235; CP percent, 16.2; total missions expenditures, $120,229.
First Baptist Church
Mission trips can be risky. After First Baptist Church in Gonzales, Louisiana, sent one team on a mission trip, two of its members felt God calling them to return overseas as career International Mission Board missionaries. Experiencing missions and witnessing how their church was putting love in action through their participation in CP can be a life-changing event.
"The Cooperative Program is a network that allows us to fulfill the Great Commission all the time," pastor James Law said. "It is a partnership in the Gospel of which I haven't been able to find an equivalent."
First Baptist's total baptisms in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 7; primary worship service attendance, 300; undesignated receipts, $829,304; Cooperative Program, $165,861; CP percent, 20.0; total missions expenditures, $187,087.