By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver candidly told staffers March 11 at In-Office Day that Missouri would be “devastated” by structural changes being proposed by the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force.
Tolliver said that if circumstances detailed by the task force in a Feb. 22 progress report were to actually become reality, the MBC would take a $1.8 million hit to its budget and suffer the loss of 26 positions now jointly funded by the MBC and the North American Mission Board (NAMB). (The final report is scheduled to come out May 3.)
“Obviously, that’s going to affect all of us, not just the NAMB folks,” Tolliver said. “And it will cause a reduction in staff.”
For example, an idea being floated by the task force concerning the reduction of cooperative agreements in Southern Baptist life would mean an annual loss of about $720,000 to the MBC, Tolliver said. Other cuts would be realized in the loss of benefits that are currently being paid to NAMB/MBC employees as well as a significant change in the percentage of budget allocation.
The current MBC budget allows for 63.25 percent being kept for state missions work and 36.75 percent being directed to national, or Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), causes. Tolliver is committed to increasing the amount sent to the SBC by .25 percent annually to get to a 50-50 balance, but the GCR Task Force appears to be pushing for a quick (if not immediate) ascension to that level.
Tolliver took time with the staff to go over all six components of the task force’s progress report. He explained that he agreed with much of what is being advanced in terms of core values, the Great Commission, and developing a compelling missional vision, meaning that he does support the first, third and fourth components of the report. However, he also disagrees with the second, fifth and sixth components, causing him to oppose the initiative as we now know it.
Tolliver said it would be helpful to have a cost analysis of the GCR plan. He noted that the ultimate price for all of the sweeping changes that are being proposed has yet to be tabulated.
Missouri has an Organizational Study Group that is looking into these matters, Tolliver said, and he hopes that changes can be made more along the lines of an MBC-generated timetable, as opposed to a GCR-generated timetable.
Whatever happens from this point on, he said, “it’s going to be a great challenge.”