ATLANTA (ABP) – The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Coordinating Council voted by e-mail May 26 to recommend a 2011-2012 budget of $12.3 million at the group’s June 22-25 General Assembly in Tampa, Fla.
The amount is $2.2 million less than this year’s budget, which at last report was running at 84 percent of projected revenues. The council was prepared to vote on a $12.9 million budget prepared by staff in February, but based on shortfalls in contributions decided that projection was overly optimistic and sent it back for more trimming.
A cover letter from CBF moderator Christy McMillin-Goodwin explained the $662,491 trimmed from the budget since February. More than half of the reductions — $350,000 – were in global missions, although no missionaries will have to be called off the field. Non-global missions cuts totaled $312,491 and included reduced funding for four seminaries labeled “identity partners” to the CBF.
A copy of the budget summary obtained by Associated Baptist Press showed reductions of about 17 percent for two partners: ABP and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Funding for ABP is reduced from $77,000 to $64,000 and the BJC from $126,000 to $104,000. Funding levels are unchanged for the Baptist World Alliance ($45,000), Christian Churches Together ($2,000), Church Benefits Board ($50,000) and North American Baptist Fellowship ($1,000).
McMillin-Goodwin, minister of education and missions at Oakland Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C., said in the cover letter that staff sought to implement suggestions from roundtable discussions held by council members in the February meeting.
“For example, no missionaries are called home because of these reductions,” she said. “There was real effort to continue to focus on investing in younger Baptists. Although we did reduce funding for the four partner seminaries, we only cut four CBF Leadership scholarships. We were also fortunate to have a designated gift ($100,000) that could fund some budgeted ministries in Missional Congregations.”
McMillin-Goodwin said significant cuts were achieved in global missions by shifting categories of service for some field personnel. That included changing a policy that now allows one spouse in a unit to move to self-funded status while the other spouse remains fully funded. While no one is losing a job, she said, jobs currently vacant in global missions will remain unfilled.
The Fellowship, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, reduced staff in Atlanta and satellite offices by 16 positions in January, saving – with program cuts – about $1.1 million in the current budget year.
Ball Camp’s Response
Our first response ought to be to keep doing what we have been doing. Since CBF is our primary partner as we seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission, we support CBF in our budget. That means that a portion of every undesignated gift that you place in the offering plate goes to share the love of Christ through the ministries of CBF field personnel in the United States, and in the uttermost parts of the world. Your giving to the Lord’s work this year has been commendable. In these difficult economic times, your faithful support of what God is doing in and through our church is a testimony to your commitment and desire to see others experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Our operating budget is not the only way that we support CBF. Two times each year, at Christmas and at Easter, we receive an offering for Global Missions. These offerings go to support our CBF missionaries as they tell the story of God’s love, and as they demonstrate that love in meaningful ways among some of the most neglected and least evangelized people in the world. Our second response ought to be to start planning now, well before Christmas gets here, to do something special when it is time for the Christmas Offering for Global Missions. What better gift can we give at Christmas time than to give Christ to someone who has never known him?
Our third response is our most important one — prayer. Use the phrase from the above report, “jobs currently vacant in global missions will remain unfilled,” as a prompt. Pray that current vacancies can be filled. This is a vitally important prayer concern when we consider the way that CBF prioritizes needs on the mission field. CBF always tries to go where there are no or few missionaries already at work. They target people groups that have had little or no contact with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if a position is vacant, it is a position among people that have limited or no opportunities to hear the message of God’s love for them. Some of those people may have to wait for those unfilled positions to get filled before they can be introduced to God’s saving grace. It is truly a vitally important prayer. Please pray it with me and be thinking of what you can do to make your Christmas Offering for Global Missions extra special this year.