BSC income 11.3 percent below budget
April 11 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

BSC income 11.3 percent below budget | Friday, April 11, 2003

Friday, April 11, 2003

BSC income 11.3 percent below budget

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

A persistent decline in cooperative mission gifts from the churches has Baptist State Convention leaders scrambling for solutions. "The words I would use are 'gravely concerned,'" executive director-treasurer Jim Royston told the Recorder. Royston has instructed convention staff to reduce their operating budgets by 15 percent in all areas other than fixed costs for personnel and contract commitments.

Through the first 12 weeks of the fiscal year, churches had contributed $7.68 million, nearly a million dollars below the $8.66 million that would have been received if giving toward the convention's $37.55 million budget was on target. The figure is $364,596, or 4.5 percent, less than had been given at the same point in 2002.

Convention receipts were down in Plans A, B and C, though slightly up in Plan D through the 12-week period, reflecting a continued movement of some churches from Plan A to Plan D.

The shift to Plan D, which allots less money to the BSC's operating budget, is compounding the convention's budget woes because annual budget goals are still based on the assumption that the BSC will receive 68 percent of cooperative missions giving, as called for in Plans A, B and C. Plan D giving allots only 50 percent toward the convention budget, resulting in a loss to the BSC operating budget of 18 cents for every dollar moved from one of the other plans into Plan D.

As the plan grows in popularity - about 16 percent of cooperative mission funds now come through Plan D - the shortfall widens. At current giving levels, even if the BSC's $37.55 million budget should be fully funded, receipts actually available for the convention's operating budget would be more than a million dollars short for the year.

The current financial shortfall comes at a time when Royston had challenged BSC churches to support robust budget growth. In early 2001, Royston announced a goal, later endorsed by the BSC's elected leaders, of budget growth from $35 million to $50 million in five years.

But the budget has grown only incrementally for the past two years, and it now appears likely that the 2004 budget goal may actually decline.

Unless giving improves, Royston said, "there is no doubt we will have to dip into reserves this year to meet personnel-related and commitment-dependent issues."

North Carolina churches have been affected by weather on several wintry Sundays, but convention leaders agree that the drop is not due to weather alone. When giving shot up during the first week of March, officials were hopeful of a turnaround, but gifts quickly dropped off in the remaining weeks of the month.

Many factors may come into play. Some churches, facing struggles of their own during the nation's lingering economic downturn, have sought relief in reducing cooperative missions giving. Churches that give a percentage of their undesignated income to cooperative missions naturally send less when their own giving is down. Most churches continue to put a set amount in their budgets, which tend to remain static.

A number of churches, however, have told convention officials that they have simply chosen to redirect some funds away from cooperative missions giving and toward local church projects, according to John Roberson, the BSC's resource and development director. Roberson said many of those churches, both conservative and moderate, are involved in capital spending campaigns.

The 2003 budget recommendation included provisions for a small amount of funding (.6 percent) for each beneficiary of the BSC budget to be withheld as a means of financing more effective promotion of the cooperative missions budget, but the plan has yet to be implemented.

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4/11/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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