By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA Md.—The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network General Mission Board (GMB) members voted unanimously to accept a new Strategic Cooperative Agreement with the North American Mission Board (NAMB). They also approved a 2016 budget, increasing Cooperative Program (CP) giving an additional one percent. The proposed 2016 budget will be submitted to messengers for consideration and approval at the Annual Celebration in November.
Regarding the NAMB agreement, GMB President Mark Dooley said, “We can do more together than apart. We need to be united together and partner with churches and with other SBC organizations as well. I think the agreement is good and will serve us well.”
GMB members approved an Administrative Committee proposal increasing Cooperative Program giving by one percent setting the proposed percentage split for 2016 to 57.5 percent staying in the region and 42.5 percent sent to the SBC national office.
Network Interim Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle explained that the GMB voted when approving the 2012 budget, to increase CP giving one percent per year to the national SBC until the year 2020.
This would result in the ultimate goal of 49 percent of CP receipts being reinvested into church strengthening and multiplying of Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network churches and 51 percent leaving the Network. However, the accomplishment of this shift in future budgets was tied to churches’ increased investment through CP. The increase in CP receipts from the churches did not happen. Instead, receipts declined, derailing the effort.
Although the effort has been hindered, GMB members voted to move ahead in 2016 once again and support a one percent increase in the amount of CP being sent on to the national SBC.
“We want to affirm and support the Cooperative Program,” Stolle said.
“Now is not the time to give up on CP,” Stolle said. “We will be receiving a quarter million additional dollars earmarked to plant (churches) and that should help,” he said, referring to an increase in NAMB’s cooperative support in 2016, adding that CP giving still has to increase from the local church to support future percentage increases in amounts sent on to the national SBC.
Stolle presented the quarterly financial report based on the July 31 Operating Income Statement. He said CP giving is down approximately 5.7 percent from last year. He predicts end of year CP giving to be approximately $3.9 million, falling short of the budgeted $4.025 million.
Stolle said Network facility operations show spending is slightly over budget but that is due to higher than anticipated corporate insurance costs and offsite storage fees. Stolle said offsite storage costs for 2015 were cut in half. The storage fees were paid up front. “It is a timing issue,” he explained. All other major ministry areas are operating within budget.
The staff is doing a good job of ‘holding the line,’” he said.
Overall, Stolle said the Network financial receipts are $59,712 ahead of disbursements for the seven months ended July 31, 2015. “Where will it end up? It depends on CP giving.”
Regarding the Skycroft Training Center budget, Stolle said income has been down, but they hope to break even. Currently Skycroft is “to the good” about $79,682. Approximately 75 percent of the receipts arrive between May and early September. “We are doing everything we can to break even. If we don’t, it will be close,” Stolle said.
“In my opinion, the Network has one of the best conference center directors in the country,” Stolle said, referring to Skycroft Training Center Director Doug DuBois.
In addition to serving as the Director of Skycroft, DuBois is serving as strategist for church strengthening and will continue to meet and encourage pastors.
Stolle also presented the report for the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware. Sixteen churches have outstanding loans with the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware. Stolle explained that the Foundation recognizes no profit on its church loans. The interest paid on the loans generates the majority of the income that annually is distributed to the Network to assist in the starting and strengthening of churches.
The Foundation’s portfolio value as of June 30, 2015 was $7,472,980. Year-to-date returns reflect a performance of 1.8 percent. The one-year portfolio performance reflected a return of 2.8 percent.
The Foundation also manages funds for churches, as well as provides stewardship education, Stolle told GMB members.
For more information about the Foundation, see www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation.
Search Committee Report
Victor Kirk reported for the GMB’s executive search committee. “We want to make sure we are finding God’s man,” Kirk told GMB members. He said the team is seeking someone who is educated, adheres to the Baptist Faith & Message, and is called to the position. “While there is a process of applying, there is still the call,” Kirk said.
“We have committed to pray over the process,” he added.
Network President Bill Warren called for a week of prayer and fasting, Nov. 1 to 7. “Fast as you feel led to and pray for God to unify and glorify—unify the Network and glorify His name.”
Warren shared about a missionary who has served 25 years “underground,” and now has to decide whether to take the first offer and retire or await the next “cut.” He said it is “heartbreaking.”
Warren said he applauds the GMB for voting on a budget that increases the percentage going to the SBC executive office. “Going back was a mistake,” Warren said.
He introduced the “One for One” Campaign. “We are sending another percentage to Nashville so more money can go to the International Mission Board,” Warren said.
“We are not waiting for churches to give money. We are walking by faith that churches will send money…” He challenged GMB members to approach their finance teams and ask them to increase CP giving by one percent.
“We need you to try,” he said. “And send it through the state convention. Send it here, and we’ll send it on,” Warren said.
Warren prayed, “Thank you for the staff you have given us. Thank you for the budget in which we’re giving more money to help missionaries and seminaries. God, I ask that you will move our churches to give more….”