|B-A committee recommends $30.5 million 2014 CP budget……Lowest in 14 years
By Barbara Denman
August 20, 2013
JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—The Budget-Allocations Committee of the State Board of Missions approved a balanced $30.5 million Cooperative Program Budget for 2014—its lowest amount since year 2000—that sends 43 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention and retains 57 percent for Florida Baptist missions and ministries.
The proposed budget, a half million dollars below the 2013 revised budget of $31 million, keeps Florida Baptists on-track to reach an even 50/50 percentage division between national and state mission causes by 2018.
However in a special called meeting held Aug. 15 at the Baptist Building in Jacksonville prior to the Budget meeting, a spirited discussion erupted as Board members wrestled with how to continue to increase the SBC percentage while coping with diminishing CP giving by Florida Baptist churches.
The pre-meeting was called to discuss the fiduciary responsibility of the state convention in light of the 50/50 split by considering the reintroduction of shared ministries, said committee chairman Terry Townsend of Wellington. This would separate ministries that benefit both the SBC and Florida Baptist Convention, such as Cooperative Program promotion, stewardship ministries, and/or international mission work in Haiti and Cuba, before the division of CP funds.
A second consideration of the called meeting was to connect the 50/50 percentage CP funding with actual church receipts, he explained.
The drive to evenly split CP funds from churches between national and state missions began in 2010 when recommendations by the “Imagine If . . . Great Commission Task Force” (IIGCTF) were approved by messengers to the State Convention annual meeting.
Among six recommendations was the call to a 50/50 percentage distribution of CP funds to increase support for global missions that also called on churches to increase their CP giving each year.
The State Board of Missions followed through on that commitment, planning to reach the goal in seven years. The shared ministries concept was one plan that surfaced to help move the Convention toward that goal, but was pulled after criticism prior to the 2011 State Convention meeting.
Meanwhile, giving by Florida Baptist churches has actually declined in the years since IIGCTF was approved—from $33.8 million in 2010 to $30.9 million in 2012, continuing a downward trend.
Since 2008 annual gifts to the Cooperative Program have dropped more than $7 million. During that same time period, funding earmarked to the Florida Baptist Convention for programs to benefit local churches and associations has declined from $23.6 million in 2008 to the proposed $17.3 million in 2014.
Although he is not a member of this committee, Board member Tommy Green from Brandon, who served on the IIGCR Task Force, was asked to share some of the background of the task force recommendations.
While the Brandon pastor said he believed there was a “steadfast commitment” to get to the 50/50 split, the IIGCTF task force did not know what “all that meant or would mean in the long haul.”
“I don’t think we were under some type of an eternal mandate from anything,” Green continued. “The Convention operates yearly and can do what it wants to do just as we did there. There are some decisions that the Board could make, and particularly as it relates to budgeting that could be considered that could help us.”
He added no other state convention has been able to allocate 50 percent of their CP receipts to the SBC, although Kentucky had made an effort.
Identifying the partnership Florida Baptists have with Cuba and Haiti, Green added, “personally, I feel that what we are doing in Haiti and Cuba is so unique and so distinct that it is unfair it is counted as part of our 50 (percent)” suggesting it be counted as a shared ministry.
Noting that God is opening many doors in both countries and blessing the work, he added, “If we walked out of Cuba and Haiti there is not another Southern Baptist presence to do what we do there.”
As the conversation continued, some of the members felt the concept of shared ministries is not easily understood.
Mike Tatem of Lake City said many pastors “perceive” the concept of shared ministries “as you just want to keep back some.” He added, “I would rather look at the timing that 50/50 is actually reached,” rather than designating share ministries. “I think that is more a pastor/church minded way of doing it.”
Several Board members said the Convention needs to determine if ministries being done are essential and what could be assigned to other entities or deleted.
Tatem noted, “I think that the state convention should be involved in doing the things churches by themselves cannot do.”
During the discussion, Board members complained that the Convention had been unable to give salary increases to its staff for the past seven years. Others suggested that SBC entities also need to take steps to study their efficiency.
Green said churches continually are being asked by national entities to take on more financial commitments—such as planting churches in North America and adopting an unreached people group—which can dilute the CP commitment of many churches.
At the conclusion of the 90-minute discussion, the committee adopted three recommendations.
Mike Tatem of Lake City made a motion to appoint a committee to study the fiduciary responsibilities of the state convention as it relates to the 50/50 split of CP receipts; and to determine ways to provide salary increases for Convention staff. The study committee was asked to bring a report to the May 29, 2014 meeting.
Another motion, made by Alan Kilgore of Crestview, asked that the State Board request SBC entities to study their fiduciary responsibilities and efficient use of Cooperative Program funds given to their entities.
Sieg Hildebrandt of Tampa made a third motion that Florida Baptist churches look at their own Cooperative Program giving and increase their giving.
In making this motion, Hildebrandt said giving 10 percent through the Cooperative Program had been a prerequisite when he accepted the pastorate of Belmont Baptist Church, “to set an example of ten percent to my people.”
The 2014 budget proposal of $30,500,000 approved by the Budget-Allocations Committee will be considered by the full Board when it meets Sept. 20 and by messengers attending the Florida Baptist State Convention, Nov. 11-12 in Jacksonville.
In that proposal, the Southern Baptist Convention will receive 43 percent or $12,865,000, representing a 1.94 percent increase over the 2013 revised budget. The funding will be sent to the SBC Executive Committee which will distribute the monies in percentage allocations approved by SBC messengers to SBC entities including the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and six seminaries.
The Florida Baptist Convention will receive $17,385,000 which will be divided between the program budget to benefit local churches and associations, $13,998,400, and Florida Baptist institutions and agencies, $3,386,600.
This will be divided among the Baptist College of Florida—general education support, $1,569,156; ministerial tuition support, $212,052; Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, $1,226,795; Florida Baptist Witness, $306,699; and Florida Baptist Financial Services for the Florida Baptist Retirement Center, $71,898.
All Florida Baptist entities—including the Convention—experienced an across-the-board 4.4 percent decrease in funding from the revised 2013 budget.