MBC holds line on spending
Executive Board hears good news, takes action on several matters
By Allen Palmeri
December 27, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – The pattern of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) living within its means for the last three years was evident once again Dec. 12-13 at the MBC Executive Board meeting.
MBC Controller Jay Hughes estimated that receipts for 2005 will come in around $16.4 or $16.5 million, which is under the $16.7 million budget, but that an estimated $350,000 is still likely to be swept into reserves as the year concludes. That became possible largely because personnel costs for 2005 were considerably lower due to open staff positions. MBC leaders also point to a habit of prudent spending within the Baptist Building.
“We’re trying to be fiscally responsible, and I’m real pleased with where we are right now,” said MBC Executive Director David Clippard.
The MBC has been working toward placing $1.8 million in reserves, which represents three months of operating expenses. Hughes said the current level of reserves is $1.56 million, and the goal should be achieved in January. However, with a close-to-full staff and a $17.05 million budget for next year, Clippard said there could be an even larger gap in 2006 between what the convention collects through the Cooperative Program and what the actual budget requires, which would keep the focus on being frugal.
“Our staff has been excellent in responding to that,” he said. “They have done strategic ministry and yet are able to hold costs down. We had a huge gas price jump this year that really affected our travel budgets, but our staff has made adjustments and they have done a great job. Unlike a few years ago, when we literally had nothing, we are meeting all of our ministry needs.”
While 2005 was a good year for putting money into reserves, it also was noteworthy in terms of the MBC helping other state conventions. Louisiana and Mississippi received more than $500,000 combined from Missouri, Clippard said, in the relief effort for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Giving to the Missouri Missions Offering (MMO), which was at $698,000 at this time in 2004, is down to $640,000 this year, but Clippard said that the overall effort, factoring in the disaster relief funds, has been remarkable.
“Our folks have been extremely generous,” Clippard said.
Executive Board members approved a new staff organizational structure that elevates Cooperative Program Specialist David Tolliver to an associate executive director level of pay, effective Jan. 1. Tolliver will report directly to Clippard. Roy Spannagel, the longest-tenured associate executive director, will remain over the Church Outreach Team, and Jim Austin, the new associate executive director, will be over the Church Services Team, which includes The Pathway.
Austin has two vacancies on his team. He is searching for a worship specialist and a collegiate ministries specialist to supervise the MBC’s campus ministries.
In an effort to help facilitate a center for church planting, the Executive Board approved with opposition a New Work Fund loan of $200,000 for The Journey, a St. Louis church that is purchasing the former Holy Innocents Catholic Church. It is recommended that churches receiving these loans immediately give 10 percent of undesignated budget receipts to the Cooperative Program, but an exception was made so that The Journey could achieve this level in 2009. The Journey agreed to give three percent in 2006, four percent in 2007 and six percent in 2008. The Journey also received a guarantee that the first 18 months of the loan would be interest free.
“We look forward to many decades of cooperation with the Missouri Baptist Convention in the planting of new churches and the revitalization of existing ones,” wrote Darrin Patrick, pastor, The Journey, in a Dec. 7 letter to members of the Executive Board.
MBC President Ralph Sawyer announced he has appointed the five members of the MBC Credentials Committee. When messengers approved the single alignment proposal at the 2005 annual meeting, the Credentials Committee was made a standing committee to determine whether churches sending messengers to future conventions would be in compliance with the MBC’s stated affinity for the theologically conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The idea is to prayerfully evaluate, through personal contact and thorough discussion, whether churches are financially supporting theologically liberal entities like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) in their budgets.
Rick Seaton, pastor, First Baptist Church, Kahoka, was named chairman. Other members are: Wesley Hammond, pastor, First Baptist Church, Paris; Bruce McCoy, pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis; James McCullen, pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Belgrade; and Eleanore Warner, laity, Eolia Baptist Church, Eolia. All except Seaton and McCoy are members of the Executive Board.
“It’s not a witch hunt,” Sawyer said. “These people were picked because their hearts are right. There are no hidden agendas with these people. They will search out what the Lord wants to do, they’ll do it with a loving and compassionate heart, and they’ll only be applying what the convention has asked them to apply.”
In other business, Executive Board members voted to:
• Prohibit full-time MBC staffers from accepting adjunct or part-time teaching positions at a college, university or seminary;
• Accept an invitation from Southwest Baptist University to host the July Executive Board meeting;
• Approve a contribution of $63,000 for the Adopt An Annuitant program in 2006;
• Authorize an increase of $100,000 for the Capital Campaign and building project at The Truman Baptist Student Union in Kirksville. The additional money has already been pledged and does not change the $188,000 needed to reach the initial $650,000 goal.