Last September, the Executive Committee, acting ad interim on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, voted unanimously to use beyond-the-budget Cooperative Program contributions received for the fiscal year ending September 30 in three areas of great need among Southern Baptists:
One-half of the total was earmarked for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to help faculty and students recover from losses and to help rebuild the campus; one-fourth was distributed to the three state conventions most affected by the hurricane to keep ministers in the field and to assist churches in recovery; and one-fourth was sent to the North American Mission Board to support the extensive hurricane disaster relief operations.
Addressing the Executive Committee February 20, Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, recounted that one outlet for distribution was the provision of $200 gift cards.
Printed on the cards with the name of the Southern Baptist Convention were the words, "ministering through the Cooperative Program," the SBC's channel for missions and ministry outreach throughout the world.
The gift cards extended the witness of Southern Baptists as a caring people to Katrina victims as well as merchants where the $200 was spent, Chapman said.
The distribution took place from October through early December; and the cards were coded so they could only be spent on merchandise rather than cashed at an ATM machine.
The $200 gift cards distributed through Baptist channels in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama reflected just a small part of nearly $12.5 million in disaster-relief funds sent to the hurricane-ravaged region from Southern Baptists' gifts through the Cooperative Program.
The $12.5 million was made possible by gifts from churches across the country that surpassed the Southern Baptist Convention's fiscal year budget.
The Thank You notes on this page are a small sampling of responses, particularly from students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, received following the distribution of the cards.