Tiny church gives big time to CP
to CP in 2005
By Barbara Shoun
March 21, 2006
PHILADELPHIA – Bethany Baptist Church near Philadelphia is a small, rural church in northeast Missouri with an average attendance in the low 20s, but David Tolliver calls it one of the heroes of Cooperative Program (CP) giving.
“I think a church like Bethany is to be complimented. My records show that it gave 14.5 percent to the Cooperative Program last year,” said Tolliver, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) associate executive director over the Cooperative Program. “It sets an example for other churches.”
Many churches set a standard goal of giving at least 10 percent of their receipts to the CP.
Church Treasurer Arlene Baker said the church gives to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong mission efforts as well as other mission projects.
Leanna Scott, who served as treasurer for 30 years before handing over the responsibility to Baker last year, says the church has supported the CP as far back as she can remember. Both her father and her mother served as treasurer before her, and she became treasurer in 1965.
“When mother was treasurer, the church gave once a year. They would decide what to give each time. Ever since I’ve been treasurer, we’ve taken a percentage,” she said.
Through the years, the church has been served by student pastors from Hannibal-LaGrange College at Hannibal who would get two years experience in the pastorate before going on to seminary. The church is proud of the young pastors who began their ministries in the Bethany pulpit. One of those young pastors encouraged the church to give 10 percent to the Cooperative Program. “We decided we would have faith in the Lord to do it,” Baker noted.
A few years later, another of those pastors encouraged them to increase it still further. Over the years, the giving stabilized at 12 percent.
Kenneth R. Moore, a retired teacher at Hannibal-LaGrange, serves as interim pastor at Bethany as well as at Emden. He continues to encourage the church in its mission involvement.
Because many young people have moved to take jobs outside of the community, the church has struggled with low attendance, and Sunday School classes have been discontinued. This has meant a decrease in the size of offerings, but the church still has a heart for missions.
At one time, Bethany started a Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) organization with two other churches. While it has been inactive lately, Scott keeps the congregation informed of mission needs with posters and announcements. The church participates in mission efforts of the Bethel Baptist Association, and it supports the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home and the home for the aged at Chillicothe.
“We have a saying that ‘We don’t give equal gifts but we do give equal sacrifice,’” said Tolliver. “Bethany church is sacrificing equally, and their contribution has been extremely helpful.
“Many times, the only way a church like Bethany can do worldwide missions is through the Cooperative Program. Their efforts are supporting more than 10,500 missionaries around the world. They can feel proud to be a part of the worldwide effort.”
Baker said the church is doing the best it can in spite of the low attendance numbers and adds, “We give because we want to give and we enjoy sharing the little we do have.”