CP Giving Grows by 3.64 Percent, Best One-Year Gain in Four Years

Cooperative Program giving in the 2003-04 fiscal year reached a record level, increasing more than 3.64 percent, compared to a 0.48 percent increase recorded in 2002-03.

Founded in 1925, the Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state and regional conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.

For the fiscal year ending September 30, receipts to the Cooperative Program totaled $189,865,254.85, an increase of $6,663,560.71 over the 2002-03 amount of $183,201,694.14 and the largest increase since the 1999-2000 fiscal year. Designated giving for fiscal year 2003-04 totaled $189,010,267.59, 13.87 percent, or $23,024,301.02, above gifts of $165,985,966.57 received for 2002-03.

While Cooperative Program giving has reached record levels in recent years, it has not kept pace with inflation or needs.

Last year the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee adopted a report warning of a future financial "crisis" unless giving increased. The report disclosed a decades-old trend showing a gradual decline in giving as a percentage of ability — by individuals to churches and by churches to the Cooperative Program — and warned against "celebrating incremental gains in income when real giving is dropping."

Earlier that year both mission boards reduced staffing and lamented the anemic growth in support that meant holding back missionaries who were willing and trained but could not go into the field because of shortfalls in giving.

In releasing the end-of-year figures for 2003-04, Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, thanked Southern Baptists for the marked increase in giving to support SBC causes.

"We are thankful for the increases in missions giving by Southern Baptists in this year both through the Cooperative Program and the special mission offerings."

"The 19.65 percent growth in Lottie Moon receipts is especially noteworthy and, I believe, is an indication of our churches' heart for missions. When they were made aware of the delay in deployment of some of our missionaries due to a financial shortfall, they responded enthusiastically. The 3.64 percent increase in CP is the highest in four years."

Chapman also encouraged Southern Baptists to set challenging goals in their support of the Cooperative Program, which is the primary funding mechanism for all SBC causes here and abroad.

"We are grateful to the Lord and the churches and we pray this sets a new trend in CP giving. Because of the great need of sharing Christ around the world, much more must be done. We ask all Southern Baptists to pray earnestly that we will respond to the challenges before us with sacrificial and generous stewardship."

State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.



International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Christians are persecuted worldwide. In some places there is "active persecution," where authorities are involved and persecution is systematic, operating in accordance with discriminatory and oppressive laws. In other places there is "passive persecution," where persecution occurs at the community level. The extent of the persecution depends on the nature of the political system. In some countries, Christians are protected from severe persecution by good government and the rule of law. In countries where human rights are not respected, Christians lack protection and persecutors appear to have unofficial permission to act with impunity.

This November Christians from several million local churches of all denominations, in more than 100 countries, will pray for and with our persecuted brethren around the world. Churches are encouraged to choose one Sunday in November to emphasize the need and to pray.

For resources on The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, go to: www.idop.org.

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