July 16 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    Cooperative Program (CP) mission receipts from North Carolina Baptist churches trail the budget by 11 percent, according to six month statistics released by Baptist State Convention (BSC) Comptroller Robert Simons.

    Receipts trail the previous year’s income by 7.6 percent or $1.2 million, putting 2010 on track to be the sixth of the past eight years in which income has fallen short of the previous year.

    Although BSC staff has kept expenses below income through June, the Executive Committee was warned that the margin is “razor thin” and supplement from reserves may be required by year’s end.

    Performance to date prompted the 2011 budget committee to propose to the Executive Committee July 15 a budget for next year that is 6 percent, or $2.1 million, less than the current budget.

    Despite the big drop in income and in budget, the 2011 budget includes a one-half percent increase in the portion of CP funds that are forwarded to the national and international ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The sixth straight year of one-half percentage point increases to the SBC will put the 2011 division at 65-35, with 35 percent going to the SBC.

    “When you decrease budget and increase the SBC portion, you have to understand this is a difficult issue related to staff and it seriously impacts the money available for program,” said Steve Hardy, budget committee chair for the third straight year.

    Once again, decreased allocations to the five Baptist colleges absorb the brunt of decreases in the budget that will be proposed to messengers at the annual meeting in November. The 2011 budget is the fourth and final year of a process in which the colleges gave up their Cooperative Program allocations in favor of autonomy in electing their own trustees.

    The colleges will share a total decrease in Christian Higher Education of $1.2 million.

    Other areas basically will need to absorb a percentage decrease that reflects the budget drop. That will cost Christian social services $175,000 in the new budget, including $125,000 from areas administered by Baptist Children’s Homes: residential care, developmentally disabled ministry and NCBAM for aging ministries. Their total drops to $2.9 million. The Baptist Hospital School of Pastoral Care is cut $50,000 to $675,000.  

    Doing everything
    “We have reduced the budget as low as we can go without impacting our service to churches,” John Butler, executive leader for business services said later. “We really have cut back programming expenses to the point it’s going to impact our ability to serve the churches and meet their expectations of us.”

    Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, believes the economy remains the major factor in falling income. BSC income is “a reflection of what is going on in the churches,” Hollifield said. “We still have churches that want to increase what they contribute, but they are living with results of unemployment in their members. I realize there are other factors, but that is the major factor we’re dealing with right now.”

    Butler, who analyzes the numbers from many angles, said the decrease in income to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for the North American Mission Board is almost identical to the six-month report to the BSC. He said that similarity indicates the BSC drop is due overwhelmingly to personal income and giving patterns, and not to other potential drags such as politics or dissatisfaction with the Cooperative Program as a missions funding vehicle.

    Referring to the two alternate giving plans eliminated in this year’s budget, Butler said, “We’ve lost less from our Plans B and C churches than I thought we would, and that’s encouraging.”

    “I am still very grateful that churches are standing behind their commitment to missions and are supporting us at the level they are,” said Hollifield. “We will operate with what God provides us to work with.”

    Hollifield said he is “amazed” at the “amount of work and ministry” that BSC staff are accomplishing with more limited funds. “We’re doing a lot with a lot less money,” he said. He said the question North Carolina Baptists must answer for themselves in the budgeting process in following years is, “What is important to you? What do you want to fund?”

    “I don’t expect the economy to stay where it is forever,” he said. “Eventually it will turn around.”  
    7/16/2010 6:54:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 2 comments




Comments
Gene Scarborough
I think this is a fair analysis and fair conclusion.

What amazes me is that pastor's salaries have kept up with inflation! Most of us who run small businesses are facing a 30-70% decrease in income.

Either congregations are giving sacrificially despite their personal hardships or pastors are lucky ducks!

I see not reason why government of churches should not reflect the harshness of this economy on the givers and taxpayers who support larger entities. Corporate America is certainly not taking much of a hit as the price of gas, electricity and water continue to increase to us struggling in this economy.
7/18/2010 2:40:00 PM

MIchael Edwards
It is very possible that the BSC is seeing the result of cutting the giving plans. The congregation I serve went with the CBF Mission Resource Plan this year, and it is possible the lower budget if reflecting a widespread move toward the MRP.
7/17/2010 3:08:36 PM

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