By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board voted without opposition April 13 to approve a budget goal for 2011 of $15.1 million, which is right in line with the $15.15 million collected last year.
Included for the third consecutive year is a .75 percent budget item to promote the Cooperative Program, with the remaining amount (just short of $15 million) being allocated 37 percent for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes (up from 36.75 percent in 2010) and 63 percent for MBC causes. Hanging over the budget this year is the unfinished work of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, whose report to the SBC annual meeting in June could mean cuts and adjustments on the state level. Concerned about potential ramifications, the Executive Board took action with a formal response (see related story, page 1.)
The projected budgets for the 2011 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering of $4 million, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering of $2 million, the World Hunger Offering of $250,000 and the Missouri Missions Offering of $750,000 were largely kept the same as 2010, with World Hunger dropping $50,000.
“We’ve budgeted accurately,” MBC Executive Director David Tolliver said. “In the past, our budgets have been inflated. Beginning three years ago, when I became interim, I began to bring the budget into line with reality. Now we’re there, so we can spend according to the budget.”
Part of the fiscal picture concerns the ongoing legal action to recover five breakaway agencies. A $150,000 bridge loan out of general reserves to cover legal fees was authorized, to be repaid in 12 months. Board members also heard a report on the new collecting system for the litigation, with dollar amounts for Plan A (churches designating for legal expenses) and Plan B (churches opting out) being approximately equal. MBC Associate Executive Director Jay Hughes said through the end of March there were 790 Plan A churches and 760 Plan B churches.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s working,” Hughes said.
Another part of the fiscal picture concerns additional money and accumulating money.
The additional money, $581,595, comes from finalizing and closing the New Work Fund, which is a combination of the old Building Fund and Site Reserve Fund. It was intended to provide financing for new works, but no new loans have been made from the fund in at least four years. The closing of this fund was accomplished by Fairview Baptist Church, Poplar Bluff, paying off their loan this year and by forgiving the $7,565 debt of Kansas City Korean Baptist Church. The money has yet to be allocated for anything, but Tolliver said he would like to see it become part of an endowment that would benefit church planting.
The accumulating money is $3.3 million in reserves, which represents a 5-6 month cushion.
Tolliver talked about how every MBC “Strategic Mission Partners” staffer must demonstrate how they fit into the three MBC core values of making disciples, leadership development, and missional living. Up to a 3 percent raise for staff, if funds are there, was later approved by board members.
Prayer has been a constant for Executive Board Member Kerry Messer, whose ministry at the State Capitol has been used by God to trigger the current 40 days of prayer and fasting initiative for a balanced state budget. Messer said the goal is for state government to close a $500 million hole by May 7, and he urged Missouri Baptists to help educate their fellow citizens as the culture shifts.
“People need to be reconditioned when there’s a need in their life to think of turning to the Church first instead of turning to the State first,” Messer said.
Messer then yielded to Bob Loggins, MBC prayer and spiritual awakening specialist, who charged the Executive Board to operate with a kingdom mindset.
“This is Your Executive Board,” Loggins prayed. “Be executor over the executives that we be engaged in Your executive orders, and that is to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and lo, You promise to be with us always, to the very end of the age.”
There were several changes on the board beginning with Larry Lewis, minister, Centralia, replacing Becky Almond, laity, Ashland. Marshall Link, minister, Puxico, became convener of the Missions & Evangelism work group, with Lynne Woods, laity, Louisiana, joining that group as well. Lindy Reed, minister, Blue Springs, replaced Kirk Baker, minister, Lawson, on the Technology work group.
Another Executive Board Member, Tom Johnson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fredericktown, was named to the Organizational Study Group to replace the late Cindy Province.
In other business, Executive Board members:
• Voted to exclude the Word & Way, or its agents, from all Executive Board and committee meetings of the MBC;
• Approved a revised policy on alcohol consumption for church planters that reinforced the importance of recognizing and respecting that Baptists as a whole have advocated complete abstinence from alcohol;
• Heard Steve Moseley, pastor, Maplewood Baptist Church, St. Louis, speak in opposition to the MBC’s ongoing legal attempt to recover five breakaway agencies;
• Emphasized that on matters related to the settling of MBC legal matters that past and present representatives of the MBC under attorney client privilege will speak to those outside the attorney client privilege only through MBC legal counsel, and;
• Updated the MBC Employee Handbook.