Executive Board raises CP awareness
JEFFERSON CITY—The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board voted unanimously July 10 to approve a proposed $16.5 million budget for 2008, with one percent set aside for Cooperative Program (CP) missions education and promotion.
Messengers to the MBC’s annual meeting Oct. 29-31 at Tan-Tar-A, Osage Beach thus will be asked to approve a dollar amount that is identical to the current budget, with one slight change. The remaining $16,335,500 will include 36¼ percent for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes and 63¾ percent for MBC causes. That represents .25 percent, or $40,837, more to CP missions.
Despite flat internal giving, MBC Interim Executive Director David Tolliver is committed to forwarding as much money as Missouri Baptists possibly can through the CP. His leadership in that area played a role in MBC Executive Board members unanimously passing a resolution that they intend to annually increase the outgoing CP percentage by .25 percent until the MBC is sending a minimum of 40 percent of its undesignated receipts on to the SBC. (A motion to go to incremental raises of .50 percent failed.)
“What you have just done implies intent and in no way ties the hands of the next board,” Tolliver told board members. “I’m glad that you are setting an example to Missouri to increase giving to worldwide missions.”
Board members also adjusted the proposed budget to increase the percentage being directed toward Christian Higher Education from 13 to 13.5, generating $81,675 additional dollars. The budget adjustments were made possible due to a healthy MBC reserves fund that is expected to swell to its targeted level of $2.4 million by the end of the year, which represents a four-month operating cushion.
Various Executive Board members praised Tolliver for his work, using terms like “exceptional,” “very, very well” and “outstanding” to describe how he has been leading since he came into his current role on April 10.
Tolliver said he wants to be “an instrument of peace,” used by the Lord to bring unity to the staff, the Board, and the Convention. The only way for this to happen, he continues to emphasize, is if the Spirit of God works in the hearts and minds of Missouri Baptists.
“By the grace of God, I can announce to you today that the healing has begun,” he said.
One of Tolliver’s bigger priorities is church planting. The MBC has been down two strategists in that area, but the interim executive director announced that Kurt Simon and Vince Blubaugh are in the process of joining the staff Aug. 1 and Sept. 1, respectively.
“Contrary to popular opinion, the Missouri Baptist Convention passion for church planting is alive and well,” Tolliver said. “I felt like these were two spots that needed to be filled because I want Missouri Baptists to know that we’re not going to slow down in our church planting efforts. We plan to start all kinds of churches—contemporary churches, cowboy churches, all kinds of creative churches, and even traditional churches. We plan to start churches that engage and confront the culture but without endorsing or condoning the culture.”
Simon planted New Works Fellowship in Springfield in 2000 and presently serves as lead pastor. The MBC hopes to keep him in the Springfield area as a strategist. Blubaugh, the founding pastor of Bridge of Faith Community Church in Rockaway Beach, is slated for the Kansas City area.
MBC Church Planting Director Jerry Field emphasized that while both men still need to clear some hurdles in the hiring process, “it’s very hopeful as we look toward 2008.” Both men have shown that they can build strong leadership teams around them, and “they’ve done well in planting their churches. They’ve been creative. They’ve shown a lot of perseverance.”
Board members continued their recent pattern of extending additional financial support to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by voting $100,000 from reserves to the seminary for endowing the MBC Mission and Evangelism Chair. The vote required a 2/3 majority (29 votes), after board members earlier voted to amend their bylaws so that any removal or transferal of reserve funds can no longer be done by a simple majority. The final tally was 30-10, with four abstentions.
The Executive Board has contributed about $300,000 and the seminary has matched those funds to bring the total endowment to around $600,000. A Chair requires funding of $1 million.
MBC President Mike Green appointed three new members to the Committee on Executive Board Committees to terms expiring with the 2008 annual meeting. They are: Jesse Cass, pastor, Jamesport Baptist Church; Marshall Link, director of missions, Cane Creek Stoddard Baptist Association; and Becky Almond, laity, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Hartsburg. Cass was named chairman.
They will serve with the remaining members of the committee, who are: Kerry Messer, minister, First Baptist Church, Festus-Crystal City; Tom Johnson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fredricktown; and Bill Edwards, pastor, Path of Life Baptist Church, Wright City. In other business, board members voted to:
• Launch the Grand Partnership fundraising plan to benefit the Agency Restoration Fund. The campaign will begin with the mailing of the Grand Partnership letter that includes a request for 500 entities (churches, Sunday School classes, individuals or groups) to become Grand Partners;
• Delay receiving the report from the Ad Hoc Theological Study Committee until the Oct. 29 Executive Board meeting at Tan-Tar-A;
• Accept a report from the Church Outreach Committee that included a statement that Vernon Armitage, pastor, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, will be one of the speakers at the 2008 State Evangelism Conference at First Baptist Church, Arnold;
• Recommend that the 2011 annual meeting of the MBC be held at Tan-Tar-A;
• Approve a maximum of three percent pay raises for MBC staff.