by Tammi Reed Ledbetter
NASHVILLE (BP) — Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists approved the most dramatic increase in the portion of Cooperative Program receipts to be sent beyond the state next year, moving from a 78/22 split to retaining 68 percent for in-state use and sending 32 percent for distribution to Southern Baptist missions and ministries.
Simultaneously increasing their budget by seven percent, the huge leap to giving 32 percent of anticipated CP gifts of $544,000 to SBC causes follows seven years of keeping a pledge to increase the amount by a half percent annually from 2011-2014, then increasing the pace four years ago.
Two other state conventions — Maryland/Delaware and Alabama reported significant increases of 4.44 and 4 percent, respectively. Several others ended a practice of prioritizing what they call “shared ministries,” increasing the likelihood that more of their undesignated CP gifts from local churches will make it to the ends of the earth. Ultimately, that priority depends on whether the Southern Baptist churches within that state convention are more generous in their giving to the Cooperative Program beyond the average of 5.16 percent that most churches budget.
In their 182nd annual meeting, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware messengers increased CP funding allocation for the SBC from 43.5 percent to 48 percent, with plans to reach a goal of 51 percent by 2020.
BCMD General Mission Board President Curtis Hill said there was a desire to “move the needle higher this year.”
In Alabama, the withdrawal of Samford University from state convention funding freed up $3.5 million and was combined with the $3 million reduction in the ABC budget to allow messengers to reach the goal of a 50/50 split more quickly than originally planned.
The Alabama Baptist State Convention joins five other conventions that forward half or more to the Southern Baptist Convention, without a “shared ministry” calculation, including the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (55/45) and Florida (51/49), with Iowa, Nevada and Ohio all at a 50/50 split.
In addition to Alabama, Maryland-Delaware and Minnesota-Wisconsin, conventions where increases of more than 1 percent will be realized at the national level include Arizona, Arkansas, Dakota, Kansas-Nebraska, New England, Pennsylvania/South Jersey and Tennessee.
State conventions in California, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Utah/Idaho, Baptist General Association of Virginia and West Virginia voted to increase the SBC portion in amounts ranging from .10 to 1 percent.
A few state conventions reported far greater increases to the SBC portion, however, those hikes have little effect once adjustments are made for prioritized “shared ministries” or significant budget reductions.
With 20 states increasing their CP percentage to the SBC, 13 making no change and seven states decreasing that portion, the amount projected to be sent to the SBC is $193,500,000 according to William Townes, vice president for convention finance at the SBC Executive Committee.
Alabama, Michigan and Missouri no longer will include “shared ministry” expenses in their budgets. The portion taken out in 10 states where this is a feature ranges from 1.19 percent in Maryland/Delaware to 18.89 percent in Wyoming. Others keeping priority items in their budget are Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
Southern Baptists in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also forward a percentage of their Cooperative Program receipts to the SBC for the SBC allocation budget.
The actual dollar amount of a state convention’s allocation fluctuates annually depending on how well cooperating churches in the state are able to fund their respective budgets.