By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—Help is on the way for El Salvadoran Baptists displaced by Hurricane Ida thanks to a Dec. 15 vote by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board that authorized a “Mi Casa es su Casa” special offering.
Board members instructed the MBC Partnership Missions office to set up the ongoing offering. It promotes the idea of “My House is your House” because of the Gospel partnership that is shared by both groups of people, said MBC Executive Director David Tolliver.
Ten homes can be rebuilt for $35,000, he said. An additional board action pledged $10,000 from underspent money from this year’s budget as an initial gift. Tolliver noted that before the board even met, Missouri Baptists had already given $2,600 to meet the needs in El Salvador.
Another church is considering giving $5,000, Tolliver said, which may mean that more than half of the $35,000 ($17,600) could already be in the pipeline headed for Central America.
“This money will go for supplies, for materials to build with, and then teams will go build,” Tolliver said. “In some cases the El Salvadorans will do the building.”
He said board members acted the way he thought they would, with compassion and generosity. Missouri Baptists will be able to give to “Mi Casa es su Casa” through 2011.
“I am proud of the Executive Board and I expect that same kind of response from all Missouri Baptists as they begin to give generously and work vigorously to rebuild homes in El Salvador,” Tolliver said.
The Association of Baptists in El Salvador (ABES) will administrate the funds for as long as the need is evident, Tolliver said. He compared the relief effort to that of Southern Baptists across America who became involved in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit.
He described the houses to be rebuilt as “really basic,” with two bedrooms, a small bathroom, and an outside kitchen. He estimated that 30 of these at most eventually may be constructed at a cost of $3,500 apiece.
Besides allocating the $10,000 for El Salvador, board members voted to distribute one-third of underspent money from the 2009 budget to organizational development, missions endowment, and a new building fund. The total of underspent money will likely come in around $200,000, according to MBC Associate Executive Director Jay Hughes.
Cooperative Program giving is expected to reach about $15 million by Dec. 31, Hughes said, which is down about $800,000 from 2008. Reserves are holding steady at around $2.7 million.
“We’ve done real well with cash flow management,” Hughes said.
The convention’s emphasis on prayer can have an impact, said Bob Loggins, MBC prayer and spiritual awakening specialist. Loggins gave a hopeful report Dec. 14 to the MBC Administrative Committee about plans for nine regional Prayer Summits around Missouri in 2010.
“We’re going to be praying prayers of victory, prayers of encouragement,” Loggins said. “We’re going to be praying prayers of faith, and we’re going to help our people to understand the difference between closet prayer and corporate prayer. Sometimes we do closet prayer corporately and we end up contaminating the hearts of those who want to pray corporately.”
By grasping the wisdom of Joel 3:1 and Joel 3:17, Missouri Baptists will be blessed in these Prayer Summits from May to November of next year and emerge from them excited, Loggins said.
Tolliver announced that in conjunction with the Prayer Summits there will be four Biblical Reconciliation Seminars and one Biblical Worldview Seminar next year.
Also during the Executive Board meeting, board members listened to Mel Lantz of First Baptist Church, North Kansas City, Mike Monahan of Hermann First Baptist Church, and Frank Whitney of Union Hill Baptist Church, Holts Summit, as they expressed their feelings about ongoing litigation to recover five breakaway agencies. All three expressed a desire for the lawsuits to end.
A statement concerning one of the agencies, Missouri Baptist University (MBU), was read to board members at the request of James Plymale, chairman of MBU’s Convention-elected trustees. These board members at their Oct. 28 meeting voted to “strongly encourage the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention to continue all available and appropriate efforts to restore the Missouri Baptist University to its lawful former status as an agency of and under the control of the Missouri Baptist Convention, and its member churches, for the faithful training and teaching of our current and future generations of college students.”
In other business, board members voted to:
Revise the speaker/organization/publications approval form which is kept in a centralized file in the Baptist Building to help ensure theological fidelity to sound Missouri Southern Baptist doctrine;
Provide $10,000 in scholarships annually per institution for Hannibal-LaGrange College and Southwest Baptist University ministerial students beginning in 2011;
Approve a contribution of $42,201.82 for the Mission Dignity program in 2009, to be used for people living in Missouri;
Give Tolliver the authority to sell the former Ardmore Baptist Church, providing there is a clause that would prohibit the sale of alcohol in the building.