Every state convention and SBC agency has committed to participate in the 75th anniversary celebration of the Cooperative Program, Partners in the Harvest. Each one is busily finalizing their plans. Here are progress reports from four states. If you have ideas you would like to share with other states and pastors, please submit them to the Executive Committee Cooperative Program Office.
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Dr. Anthony L. Jordan, Executive Director
David Waganer, Cooperative Program Director
The Partners in the Harvest theme, which celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the Cooperative Program, is an excellent illustration of the great commission. We are using the Partners artwork for our state budget and are giving it substantial emphasis in our state paper. Newsletters and dramatic commercials during our upcoming state convention are also in the works. We are planning to use materials developed by the Executive Committee as well as developing some of our own. One of these pieces will be a Cooperative Program tract that will enhance the Partners in the Harvest emphasis and the message of the Cooperative Program as a whole.
In addition, we are working with a local marketing research firm to assist us in listening to what Oklahomans are saying about CP in general.
I have seen first hand how CP mission support continues to touch and change lives. I believe it is the most effective channel of mission support in the history of the Christian movement. I would urge lay persons and church leaders to continue in their support of missions through the Cooperative Program and to participate in the Partners in the Harvest campaign.
Arkansas State Baptist Convention
Dr. Emil Turner, Executive Director
Harry Black, Cooperative Program Director
The Arkansas Baptist State Convention is moving ahead with Partners in the Harvest. We believe this may be the best opportunity for our generation to communicate, strengthen, and conserve our unique Southern Baptist plan for unified, cooperative missions support. For this reason, our Executive Director, Associate Executive Director, and Cooperative Program coordinators are working closely to provide direction and leadership.
Leadership is also being provided by a committee made up of pastors of various sized churches from strategic locations in Arkansas. A primary responsibility of these committee members is to write a letter of encouragement and testimony regarding the Cooperative Program and their involvement in Partners in the Harvest. These letters will be sent, one each month, to all of the pastors in our state, creating awareness and an environment for participation.
The focus on Partners In The Harvest will be featured prominently in our 1999 annual state convention meeting. Twenty minutes has been given to introduce Arkansas Baptists to this important campaign. It will feature the music video, a Power Point presentation, and testimonies. This presentation will come on the evening of the first day, just before Executive Director Emil Turner's message.
Directors of Missions/Associational Missionaries have a critical role in our Partners strategy. They have been invited to attend any of five regional orientation meetings around the state. The DOM's are being asked to provide a budget goal for the year 2001 from their association to be included in Arkansas' overall Partners giving goal. They are also being asked to provide a list of volunteer mission projects that will be made available to our churches. This list will also be shared with state conventions around us in the event their churches would like to participate in out-of-state projects. We are offering to lead a Partners Rally/Training Event in each association either as a special event or in conjunction with a pastors' conference or executive board meeting. We are also urging them to feature Partners during their 1999 annual meetings.
South Carolina Baptist Convention
Dr. B. Carlisle Driggers, Executive Director/Treasurer
Bob Ethridge, Cooperative Program Director
The preliminary response from our state steering committee and pastors who signed up at the SBC in Atlanta has been positive. They are excited about the emphasis.
We are using our monthly mail out as a primary communication tool. A video and other resources will be available later this year.
In addition to our mail outs and other resources, we are enlisting our Directors of Missions (DOMs) to help us follow up on the pastors in their areas.
We plan to have a major emphasis on Partners in the Harvest during our convention in November. Training will also be available for those pastors who feel they need the assistance in understanding the program, the purpose, and use of the materials.
We will be promoting a 30 Days of Prayer emphasis for Partners in the Harvest beginning in January of 2000. A Partners in the Harvest Prayer Journal will accompany this effort. As a companion resource to the prayer journal, the South Carolina and Oklahoma conventions have jointly produced a piece entitled the "Challenge of Cooperation" that explains the biblical bases, origin, purpose and process of the Cooperative Program. We are encouraging our churches to use this in their new member orientation classes and in other appropriate settings.
A disturbing trend in our state, as in many states, has been the decreasing CP percentage in many churches. We are praying that Partners in the Harvest will help inform the pastors and the churches about the worldwide impact of the Cooperative Program and have a positive impact in reversing this trend.
Along related lines, focus groups have been held to help us assess the attitude of our younger pastors and churches towards the Cooperative Program in general. Our findings have shown us that these pastors are not hostile toward the CP, they have just taken it for granted. It's always been there. So we are assisting them in a rediscovery process of what CP is all about along with facts and figures that show God's blessings upon this method of missions support over the last seventy-five years.
I would encourage all of the states and churches that have signed up for Partners in the Harvest to do it well and to do it right. I'm convinced the timing of Partners in the Harvest is from God. Its success is critical as we impact God's kingdom worldwide and enter the new millennium.
Executive Committee of the Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia
Dr. J. Robert White, Executive Director
Eddy Oliver, Cooperative Program Director
The Partners in the Harvest campaign has received an enthusiastic response already in Georgia. Nearly 100 churches have already signed up to participate, and we anticipate many more as others catch the excitement. Our goal is to have at least 50 percent of our 3,400 churches participate. While we are still in the process of finalizing our plans, the Partners campaign will be emphasized at our association annual meetings this fall, as well as the Cooperative Program exhibit at the State Convention meeting. The Partners artwork has been posted on our Georgia Baptist Convention web site (www.gabaptist.org). I encourage every church in our Convention to get on board to make this a monumental event that can have an eternal impact on our states, this nation, and the world.
Goals for Partners in the Harvest
• One million baptisms next year
• Unprecedented involvement in volunteer missions
• $750 million in combined Cooperative Program gifts and others mission offerings
Contact your association or state office to sign up for Partners in the Harvest or call the Cooperative Program Division of the Executive Committee at 1-800-722-9407. Thanks for being a Partner in the Harvest!