January 28, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – Talk about the Missouri Baptist Convention doing away with the WMU, GAs, RAs and Mission Friends is nothing more than a rumor, according to David Clippard, MBC executive director.
"Right up front we need to kill a rumor. There is not now, nor has there ever been any plan – or eve a thought – of doing away with the WMU, GAs, Mission Friends and RAs," Clippard said in a letter mailed to all WMU leaders, pastors and Directors of Missions throughout the state.
"Anything you hear to the contrary is simply a product of someone’s imagination. Don’t believe this rumor if you hear it."
Clippard suggested that the reduction in the MBC staff may have fueled the rumor.
"Our Missouri Baptist Convention reduction-in-force that reduced staff by just over 20 percent has brought huge change," Clippard said. "We delayed this decision as long as possible, but now we have no choice."
The MBC began 2002 staffed and structured for a $19.2 million budget. As of Dec. 31, 2002, there was a $3 million shortfall.
"That sounds terrible, but in light of our nation’s economy, this 15 percent shortfall is not as severe as most Christian ministries, which are about 33 percent behind last year," Clippard said. "Our Missouri Baptist churches have wonderfully responded to our Cooperative Program of Missions.
"I am very much encouraged by this level of giving to missions. However, $3 million is still a lot of money to be short."
Clippard said normal times finds MBC reserves are sufficient to draw against for hard financial times.
"During the last five or so years, those reserves were spent," Clippard said. "Since I have been in the executive director’s office, we have literally lived by the Lord Jesus giving us "this day, our daily bread.’ The Lord Jesus has provided the basic salary needs and our bills are paid through year end, but our ministries have been severely curtailed, even to the point of putting on hold many new church starts in 2002.
"Finally, the inevitable had to happen," Clippard said.
Clippard said the MBC reduction in work force is no different than what is happening in industries, state government and at William Jewell College. Dr. David Sallee, WJ president, has reduced its workforce by 30 position.
Clippard warned that change and resulting emotions can blindside the MBC by "taking our focus off of our mutually shared core value – missions.
"The reasons the Cooperative Program … exists is to fuel missions," he said. "It is not about us; It is about sharing Jesus with the whole world. These mission offerings are the very heartbeat of the WMU and our MBC strategic focus."
Clippard applauded the WMU in his letter, describing the WMU network as "essential to keep the message and ministry of missions before our church family."
"Every new member and every new believer must be educated with regard to the who, what, where, when, why and how of Southern Baptist missions, and this is what WMU does best," the director said.
Clippard said he is looking to the very near future when the Missouri WMU takes an even more active role in foreign missions.
"The worldwide need for the gospel has not changed," Clippard stated. "Our mutually shared mission’s core has not changed. The specialized offerings have not changed. The focus of the special offerings has not changed. The WMU and auxiliary programs and purpose have not changed. The WMU has not changed. Our overall International and North American mission ministries has changed only by growth.
"The only change that has affected the area of the WMU is in the area of one MBC staff person who became part of the reduction in force."
Clippard said the reduction in force was not an easy task.
"During November and December, Larry Thomas, David Waganer, Carol Kaylor and I spent many long hours wrestling with who, what and how to do a reduction in force," Clippard said. "We consulted with the Executive Board in its November and December meetings. A Kansas City law firm coached us through this process so that we were absolutely above board, far and absolutely consistent in our dealings with our entire staff.
"The law firm was amazed at how evenly distributed, fair and consistent we had been to that point. They made some minor adjustments and prepared the reduction in force documents so our people were properly assured of the most fair and liberal severance arrangements we could manage under the current circumstances."
Clippard explained that no group of employees was hit any more severely than any other by the reduction in force. "We have lost some good people," he said.
The four-page letter containing detailed information about the reduction in force was written, Clippard said, to provide a glimpse into the difficult process.
"It is among the hardest things we have all had to do in our ministry to date," he said. "… With this detail we are also hoping that you will realize that no person or ministry was singled out. We did all we could to be equitable and fair with everyone.
"We are hoping that you will understand, trust us in this process and choose to march ahead with us to reach the world with the Gospel because ultimately we are about missions.
The director said his office is purposing to work with WMU leadership, including a meeting with the officers and coordinating council of the Missouri State WMU, to plan the future.