How shall we give? Let me count the ways
February 2 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

How shall we give? Let me count the ways | Friday, Feb. 2, 2001

Friday, Feb. 2, 2001

How shall we give? Let me count the ways

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor When N.C. Baptists began offering cooperative giving options in the early 1990s, few anticipated how popular the plans would become, and how they would help to hold us together. A single plan that sent 68 percent of gifts to the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and 32 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was expanded to offer a "Plan B," which reduced the SBC portion to 10 percent and divided the remainder among several other items, some of which were no longer receiving funding from the SBC.

Plan C was added later, giving churches the option of sending 10 percent of their mission contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Plan D came along in 1998. It cuts the BSC's share to 50 percent, forwards 32 percent to the SBC, and divides the rest between international mission projects, Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute and N.C. mission projects such as new church starts.

Churches also have the freedom to "negative designate" and divert funding from up to three budget items. The result is a mind-boggling plethora of options.

Tom Womble, executive team leader for the BSC's Convention Relationships and Budget group, provides some intriguing numbers that reflect just how diverse the BSC's churches can be.

The Convention now counts 3,905 churches, according to Womble, but 719 of those congregations contributed nothing in 2000 to the BSC. Even so, the $34.59 million received was a new record. It included $25.68 million given through Plan A (74.24 percent), $3.34 million through Plan B (9.66 percent), $2.52 million through Plan C (7.29 percent), and $3.05 million through Plan D (8.81 percent).

How the money got into those four plans is a more complicated story.

Last year, 2,213 churches contributed through Plan A only (down from 2,319 in 1999). Another 253 gave through Plan B alone (up from 248 the previous year), and 108 churches contributed solely through Plan C (up from 101). The greatest numerical change was in Plan D, through which 218 churches contributed exclusively, up from 71 in 1999.

Many churches respect differing preferences within their congregations by spreading their cooperative giving across multiple plans. As a reflection of just how diverse the BSC's churches can be, take note of this: 85 churches gave through Plans A and B, 53 through Plans A and C, and 102 through a combination of Plans A and D.

Forty-four churches contributed funds through Plans A, B and C, while four utilized Plans A, B and D.

In addition, 53 churches contributed through a combination of Plans B and C, eight through Plans B and D, and five through plans B, C, and D. Twenty-one churches contributed funds through all four plans: A, B, C and D!

Some of the most moderate churches prefer Plan C, while some of the most conservative congregations prefer Plan D - yet 14 churches split their giving between Plans C and D.

Facts and figures such as these should dispel any monolithic notions of N.C. Baptist churches. We are a diverse group, and we have learned something about honoring personal freedom while working together in support of a larger cause.

The choices made by our congregations speak volumes for the possibility of working in support of the same book, even when we aren't always on the same page.

Our churches' freedom and willingness to choose from so many options make me really proud to be a N.C. Baptist - and really glad that I don't work in the BSC's business office.

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2/2/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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