The Southern Baptist Convention ended the 1995-96 fiscal year with a record $148,185,076 in Cooperative Program gifts, surpassing by nearly $2.5 million the record given last year, according to Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee.
For the SBC's fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, the $148.2 million total for 1995-96 is 1.68 percent, or $2,445,587, above last year's record of $145,739,489.
"Through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists evangelize, send missionaries, plant churches, and educate ministers," Chapman said. "Once again, they have supported these grand efforts in historic style. For the third consecutive year, old giving records have been broken, and new ones established.
"The continued generosity of Southern Baptists bears witness to their resolute commitment to be faithful to carry out the Great Commission. This is a good report on the health of our Convention, but more than that, this is good news for a world in need of our faithful witness."
Compared to the 1995-96 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $141,629,127, the gifts for the past year exceeded the budget by $6,555,949 or 4.63 percent.
Designated gifts, which include Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for home missions, and other special offerings, also set a record. For 1995-96, designated gifts totaled $138,446,505 compared to the previous year's record total of $132,830,194, an increase of $5,616,310 or 4.23 percent.
Adding the record Cooperative Program plus designated gifts for the 1995-96 year, Southern Baptists gave nearly $300 million last year through regular channels for the mission and education enterprises of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Southern Baptists' unflagging support demonstrates that they remain focused on the main thing," Chapman said. "They know what they are about, and are committed to being about it! We are deeply grateful to the dear Lord for the stalwarts who make up our churches, and to the pastors and lay leaders who help them to see the whole world as their field, and to cooperate with their Southern Baptist family in reaching out to it."
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state and regional conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.
State and regional conventions retain a percentage of Cooperative Program contributions they receive from the churches to support work in their areas and send the remaining funds to the Executive Committee for national and international ministries. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.