By Erin Roach
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–A church with 103 members and an average 30-year Cooperative Program (CP) giving rate of 32.78 percent received the M.E. Dodd Award during the Southern Baptist Executive Committee’s morning report June 15 at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
First Church in Sparkman, Ark., which averages 60 to 75 people for worship on Sundays, was recognized for “continuous, long-term excellence in supporting the principles, practice and spirit of the Cooperative Program.”
The award, named after the longtime pastor of First Church in Shreveport, La., who helped establish the Cooperative Program, is presented annually to a person, congregation or organization for sustained achievement in CP missions support.
“Since the start of the Cooperative Program, the church has given sacrificially because of a deep desire to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ all over the world,” Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said as he presented the award. “It has been the drive that has kept the church focused on the task of the Great Commission.
“Though overall giving fluctuates with time, their CP giving has never been up for discussion because they knew it worked. For them it is a matter of investment. They invest in CP giving because it is a tool for the spread of the Gospel,” Chapman said.
The average CP giving by the church over the past 30 years is 32.78 percent with a high of 43.49 percent and a low of 24.27 percent. Chapman said, “Now this is what the Bible calls sacrificial giving.”
Eric Moffett, pastor of First Sparkman, and his wife, along with longtime members Don and Martha White, accepted the award on behalf of the church.
“We believe that even though we’re a small church from a tiny community, with every dollar that we give we’re able to partner with missionaries and denominational servants all over the world,” Moffett said. “To us, that’s a joy and an investment. Our church would have it no other way, and we give God the glory and honor for the chance He gives us to partner with the work of God’s Kingdom all throughout this wonderful convention.”
White, who has been a member of First Sparkman since 1946, recalled a group of deacons from years ago who were adamant that the church’s giving through the Cooperative Program would not be cut, no matter how dire the church’s finances.
“In fact, usually they would increase what we gave rather than decrease it. And that attitude of our church body prevails today,” White said.
Also during the Executive Committee’s morning report, SBC president Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Church in Woodstock, Ga., received the Silver Good Shepherd Award from the Association of Baptists for Scouting for his church’s use of scouting as a tool for evangelism and ministry. The church started a Boy Scout program 17 years ago, and Hunt has consistently supported the ministry, the association said.
During the business section of the report, messengers without discussion:
— adopted a 2010-11 SBC operating budget that anticipates $8.64 million in income, with $6.79 million through the Cooperative Program. A total of $2.98 million is budgeted for SBC administration expenses and $5.67 million is allocated toward operating expenses for the Executive Committee.
— adopted a 2010-11 Cooperative Program allocation budget that directs $145.45 million to ministries through the convention’s two missions entities, $44.3 million to theological education through six seminaries and $3.4 million to concerns about ethics and religious liberty.
— changed the site of the 2013 SBC annual meeting from Nashville, Tenn., to Houston, Texas, and changed the date to June 11-12 “to ensure appropriate meeting facilities to support the annual meeting.”
— adopted the 2014-15 SBC calendar of activities.
— amended the ministry statement of the Southern Baptist Foundation to say that the foundation will “assist churches, Baptist general bodies and their entities, and other evangelical organizations and individuals through estate planning consultation and investment management primarily for funds providing support for Southern Baptist causes.”
— approved resolutions of appreciation for Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, who will retire Sept. 30 after 18 years in the position; and for Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, who will retire this year after 17 years in the role.
The day before, Executive Committee members elected officers for the coming year. Roger Spradlin, pastor of Valley Church in Bakersfield, Calif., was elected chairman in a ballot vote with Doug Melton, pastor of Southern Hills Church in Oklahoma City. A vote for vice chairman first ended in a tie between Ernest Easley, pastor of Roswell Street Church in Marietta, Ga., and Jack Shaw, a layman from Greenville, S.C., but in a second vote, Easley was named to the position.
Joe Wright, director of missions for the Dyer Association in Tennessee, was elected secretary of the Executive Committee. Also nominated was Carol Yarber, an office manager from Athens, Texas.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.