2004 budget reflects reality, priorities
October 17 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

2004 budget reflects reality, priorities | Friday, Oct. 17, 2003

Friday, Oct. 17, 2003

2004 budget reflects reality, priorities

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

When a decline in contributions to and through the Baptist State Convention (BSC) led to a series of cost-cutting moves that included the elimination of 24 staff positions as of Aug. 31, Executive Director/Treasurer Jim Royston announced that decisions were based on what was most "mission critical" to the BSC. He later qualified the statement by telling the General Board that all of the convention's ministries are crucial to its mission. Cuts were made in areas whose work could most easily be absorbed by others, he said.

Those staff reductions are reflected in the new BSC budget proposal for 2004, approved Oct. 1 by the General Board. The proposed budget is 6.3 percent below the 2003 budget, and in line with actual anticipated income for 2003. The 2003 budget called for income of $37.55 million, but the 2004 version drops to $35.18 million, the lowest total since 2000, when the budget was $34 million. Following new policies approved at last year's annual meeting, the Board also approved a budget for 2005. That budget is fractionally larger at $35.68 million, though still below the 2001 budget of $35.75 million.

The N.C. Ministries portion of the budget falls almost $2 million in 2004, from $26.27 million to $24.34 million, a drop of 7.37 percent. N.C. Ministries should also receive a slightly smaller percentage of total budget income, falling from 69.97 to 69.19 percent.

The N.C. Ministries budget consists of the BSC's 68 percent share from Plans A, B and C and its 50 percent share from Plan D, plus partnership missions funds designated in Plans B, C and D.

An analysis of budget changes for 2004 reveals economic realities, as well as some shifts in "mission critical" priorities, most of them reflecting personnel cuts that have already been made. While 2003 budget figures are presented here for comparison, the amount actually received and available for distribution in 2003 will almost certainly be less than the budgeted amount. Contributions at the end of September were running 7.79 percent under budget for the first nine months of the year.

If giving for either year should surpass budget expectations, all entities would receive additional funds in line with the budget formula.

Among the BSC's affiliated agencies and institutions, budgeted expenditures for Christian Higher Education are expected to drop 6.67 percent in 2004, from $5.25 million to $4.9 million, while funding for Christian Social Services falls 6.67 percent, from $3.62 million to $3.38 million, and BSC support for convention agencies declines 5.6 percent, from $555,000 to $523,875. Although incoming dollars may decline, the designated percentage for those entities varies only slightly from the current budget.

The "General Board Groups" category, which includes most of the BSC's staff and program money, falls 13.5 percent, from $10.61 million to $9.18 million.

The budget's "Convention Special" section, which includes funds for the Ministers' Emergency Reserve, scholarships for N.C. Baptist students attending N.C. Baptist colleges and universities, the Christian Action League, and the Baptist World Alliance, drops 12.6 percent, from $1.59 million to $1.39 million.

Two budget categories grew, both as a result of rising benefits costs. Expanded annuity funds for participating staff members in BSC churches and on the General Board staff will rise from $1.55 million to $1.73 million, or 11.75 percent. The increase is due to growth in the number of participants, along with an expected decrease in matching funds from the Southern Baptist Annuity Board.

The "Convention and General Board Operations" budget, used largely to cover meeting costs, employee benefits, contingencies and base funding for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, is set to grow 4.9 percent, from $3.1 million to $3.23 million. Some specific items decline, but the cost of employee benefits is expected to rise $305,000 despite the elimination of 24 staff positions, mainly due to increased health insurance premiums. Many retirees, including nine staff members whose positions were recently eliminated, continue to receive health insurance benefits from the BSC.

The North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) goal for 2004 falls to $2.3 million, from $2.6 million in 2004. The drop has a direct impact on N.C. Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) and Baptist Men, both of which are funded from the NCMO offering.

N.C. WMU's 2003 budget of $880,641 falls 13.2 percent, to $764,465. Budgeted income for Baptist Men drops 17.5 percent, from $699,217 to $576,898. The decrease for WMU and Baptist Men is based not only on a lower NCMO goal, but also on decreased percentages. WMU's percentage of the NCMO offering goes from 34.01 to 33.08 percent, while Baptist Men drops from 27.01 percent to 24.96 percent. The decrease reflects the loss of two staff positions each in WMU and Baptist Men.

The vacant position of medical/dental bus coordinator had previously been moved from Partnership Missions to Baptist Men. It was not officially eliminated, but no additional funding was provided for it.

A portion of the NCMO budget designated for Congregational Services will drop from $98,350 to $67,600. Most of that reappears in a new $40,000 item for "Pursuing Vital Ministries" (PVM).

PVM uses trained coaches to assist "a congregation's spiritual and strategic journey to discern and reach its full kingdom potential," according to information on the www.pursuingvitalministries.com Web site. The initiative, which Royston has promoted heavily as a means of assisting plateaued churches, also appears as a new item in the budget for "Administration-Convention Relationships and Budget." That section grows from $1.47 to $1.52 million, thanks mainly to a $210,700 new item for PVM. Some of the PVM funds are new, while others are being transferred from the Congregational Services group.

The operating budget for the Hollifield Leadership Center falls 22.4 percent, from $353,286 to $273,978. When convention officials promoted the purchase of the Hollifield Center in 2000, they expressed hope that it would become self-supporting within three to five years. The 2005 budget calls for an additional 22.2 percent decline in BSC support, to $212,378. George Bullard, former director of the Hollifield Leadership Center and current associate executive director, said "this keeps Hollifield on target to require only the basic supplement provided to Caswell and Caraway conference centers by the end of 2006, its fifth full year of operation."

BSC funding for the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Caswell and Caraway Conference Center are set to fall 25 percent in 2004, from $100,000 to $75,000 each.

Funding for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, the Council on Christian Higher Education (CCHE), and Woman's Missionary Union is listed in the budget under convention relationships. Income for Fruitland is expected to increase 2.5 percent due to the continued popularity of Plan D, which designates five percent to the school. Fruitland provides ministerial training for persons who do not have a college education. Its funding is expected to grow from $1.15 million to $1.17 million.

Following the elimination of its paid staff, the CCHE budget falls 65.25 percent. Most of the council's program funds remain intact, however, falling from $65,250 to $59,750, or 8.43 percent.

Among other General Board Groups, Business Services falls 8.38 percent, from $1.52 million to $1.39 million. Resource Development and Promotion declines 16.77 percent, from $1.15 million to $956,262, but picks up an additional $180,000 from a 0.006 deduction from all funded entities, to be used for Cooperative Giving promotion.

With the excision of its executive leadership layer and some shifting of responsibilities, funding for the Strategic Initiatives and Planning group falls 26.62 percent, from $616,780 to $452,574. Remaining staff members have been assigned to work with other groups but the funding, mostly related to information technology and services, remains separate for budget purposes.

Congregational Services dropped 13.1 percent, from $2.35 million to $2.05 million, with the biggest change coming on the Bible Teaching Reaching team, which goes from $845,407 in 2003 to $589,827 in 2004. The $285,580 drop reflects staff reductions and the shifting of some staff and program funds to the Discipleship Team.

The Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs, which functions under the Congregational Services umbrella, dropped 15.2 percent, from $604,757 to $513,087, due mainly to the layoff of its executive director.

Mission Growth Evangelism, the largest of the convention's groups, loses the most dollars for 2004, falling 19.6 percent, from $3.5 million to $2.82 million.

The brunt of the losses are being felt by Campus Ministry, which falls 28.2 percent, from $1.32 million to $949,444; Church Planting, down 18.1 percent, from $1.02 million to $832,825; and Partnership Missions, dropping 16.9 percent, from $503,651 to $418,533.

Most of the reductions reflect staff cuts that have already taken place.

Funding for the Evangelism and Church Growth team declines 3.4 percent, from $491,278 to $474,389. Anticipated expenditures for the team actually increase for the year, but increased revenues from the North American Mission Board and from conference fees hold the BSC share to slightly less than the previous year.

The budget proposal, though approved by the General Board, must still be affirmed or amended by messengers attending the Convention's annual meeting in Winston-Salem. Budget discussions are scheduled for Wednesday morning, Nov. 12.

10/17/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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