By Brian Koonce
BRIDGETON – Talk of reduced state funding isn’t causing leadership at Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH) to flinch. “The good news for all of us is that we serve a God that has the money,” said MBCH President Bob Kenison. “Maybe it’s a gift, maybe it’s an annuity, maybe it’s a will or maybe it’s a farm. God will provide a way for us to do ministy.”
MBCH has several contracts in which the State pays MBCH to do work on their behalf.
“In the past we have heard by now whether or not those contracts are going to be renewed, and we have not heard anything,” MBCH executive vice president and treasurer Russell Martin told the MBCH board during their April 27 meeting. “Some of our staff are worried about their future. I think the next several months for MBCH Children and Family Ministries are going to be a trying time as we see what effects the state budget will have on our staff and service. Pray for our staff, children and families.”
Like Kenison, Martin said questions about state funding will not hamper MBCH’s mission.
“And as bad as this coming year is looking, the next fiscal year is looking even worse,” he said. “But I tell you and I tell our staff that the State of Missouri is not our source. God is our source. We’re going to be faithful.”
A large chunk – nearly $1.3 million in 2009 – of MBCH’s ministry is funded through tax credits MBCH receives from the State of Missouri, which are then sold to individuals. Tax credits in general have become a hot button issue in a time when Missouri’s General Assembly is trying to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s budget. There have not been specific warnings that the tax credits used most often by MBCH are in legislators’ sights.
There are three types of tax credits: unrestricted, those subject to annual appropriation and “budget-neutral” or “purchased” tax credits. MBCH’s tax credits are all subject to annual appropriation. The unrestricted credits are among the ones most commonly cited by fiscal hawks, such as credits for historic preservation and low-income housing. They are not capped and must be issued to all who apply.
“The legislature is still trying to figure out what they’re going to do with tax credits,” said Robert Springate, MBCH vice president of public relations. “The budget is in such a critical condition, they could go overboard and do away with all of them. Pray that they don’t just act emotionally and do something rash.”
The statistics of services provided by MBCH Children and Family Ministries for the first quarter of 2010 are “down but up.” There has been a reduction in therapeutic group home and crisis care due to changes in philosophy of care on the state government level. However, pregnancy services are up. So far, 14 children have accepted Christ as their savior through MBCH services. Twenty-eight children made professions of faith in 2009.
“Behind the numbers are faces of real people,” Martin said. “It’s great to help them and make a change that will affect their lives, but it’s even better to make a change that will affect them for all eternity.”
In other news, MBCH board members helped dedicate two fixtures of the Spiritual Life Center on the main campus. They dedicated the Rev. Ivan Dameron Chaplain’s office, named after Ivan Dameron, a long-time pastor at First Baptist, California. The office was made possible in part by contributions from the Dameron family and churches and individuals in Concord Baptist Association. Several members of the Dameron family were present at the dedication. The steeple of the Spiritual Life Center was also dedicated in honor of Paul Bean, a long-time optometrist in Hannibal. The Paul Bean Memorial Steeple was made possible in part by the Bean Endowment Fund at the Missouri Baptist Foundation.
The MBCH board will next meet July 27 at the main campus in Bridgeton.