By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board voted to recommend a $15.1 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2011 during its July 13 meeting at the Baptist Building.
The budget essentially mirrors what was collected in 2009, which was $15,150,000. The 2011 budget, if approved by a vote of messengers during the Oct. 25-27 annual meeting at the Expo Center in Springfield, would ensure slight funding increases for church planting and collegiate ministries and a pool of money (3 percent on the average) to be set aside for staff raises.
MBC Executive Director David Tolliver and Executive Board Chairman Bruce McCoy, pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, facilitated discussions and deliberations July 12-13 among board members focused on the challenges presented with the passage of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) which won overwhelming approval of its seven recommendations in June at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. Tolliver told the board the MBC is being proactive in response to GCR through the work of the convention’s Organizational Study Group which has been at work for several months. (See related story
on p. 1.)
“GCR adds a sense of urgency to the Organizational Study Group and to the potential reorganization of our staff,” Tolliver said.
Out of the 18 jointly funded North American Mission Board (NAMB) and MBC staffers, anywhere from 10-15 could eventually be cut, Tolliver said. He added that by Jan. 1, 2012, he wants a 10-year structure in place.
“I do not want to be an SBC rebel,” Tolliver said, noting that compliance might mean trimming back to a $13.3 million budget.
An In-Office Day meeting with staff July 15 gave Tolliver an opportunity to explain where the MBC is headed and demonstrate how he is handling various employee concerns. A July 12 meeting with the Administrative Committee produced a similar discussion.
“The bottom line is the systemic uncertainty,” McCoy said.
With so much at stake and so much to be determined—like the naming of a new NAMB president, for instance—Tolliver can only anticipate so much.
“We don’t know what the new normal looks like,” Monty Dunn, pastor, Pleasant View Baptist Church, Highlandville, and a member of the Administrative Committee, told Tolliver. “You’re doing the right thing, and we’re just going to have to watch and see.”
The next day Tolliver told the full board that he would do “everything in my power to make the transition as smooth as possible in the state of Missouri.”
A tweaked set of MBC staff core values consisting of missional living, developing leaders, and being disciples was also rolled out during the July 12-15 series of board and staff meetings.
“These are becoming three critical core values that as we’re moving forward in whatever the future is God has for us as a convention; this is what the heart of our focus needs to be all about,” MBC Associate Executive Director Jerry Field said.
An updated mission statement was part of the unveiling as well. It now reads, “Great Commission Christians in Great Commission churches transforming communities with the Gospel.”
The fiscal outlook compared to last year is a little bit better, according to MBC Associate Executive Director Jay Hughes, in that “we’re managing our expenses” and “our cash flow is positive.” Last year at this time the MBC was in “a serious situation,” Tolliver said. It triggered a hiring freeze and the continuation of a 90 percent spending level that could have easily slipped into an 85 percent spending mode had not travel budgets and meal expenses been watched.
Now budget managers are back to spending at 100 percent, and the positive cash flow balance is more than $250,000, Hughes said. And the new mechanism to fund the ongoing legal effort to recover five breakaway agencies is working, Hughes reported.
An alternate giving plan that began this year to collect money two ways, thus preventing any Cooperative Program funds from going toward the litigation, is “still running almost 50-50,” Hughes said. A total of 52 percent of the MBC’s churches, or 1,165, are giving through Plan A (churches designating for legal expenses), with 48 percent, or 865 churches, giving through Plan B (churches opting out), Hughes said.
Reserves are at a 5-month operational level at $3.12 million.
A plan that could make the MBC the first state convention in the nation to join video streaming at regional sites with a main location to produce a more inclusive annual meeting was approved. The idea will be tested in 2012 and 2013 before the MBC goes live with three full sites in 2014 and 2015 that will be linked to the main meeting at Tan-Tar-A, Osage Beach. (The 2011 annual meeting will be held at Tan-Tar-A as well.)
“We think we are going to get more involvement (with the video streaming sites) from people overall,” Hughes said.
The 2012 annual meeting will be held at the Millennium Hotel, St. Louis, and in 2013, the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City will be the host site.
The Executive Board also honored with plaques the trustees of the Word & Way board that no longer exists. They are: Doug Funk, Annapolis; Bill Jackson, Black; Karen Moore, Fenton; Margaret Morgan, Millersville; Louis Hunt, Winfield; David Pitts, Imperial; James Seago, Laquey; Steve Tanner, Mexico; Lyn Heying, Palmyra; Matt Marrs, Kansas City; Matthew Thomas, Jefferson City; and James Ogan, Shell Knob.
In other business, board members:
• Voted to sell the missionary residence at 1507 Vieth Dr. in Jefferson City, which was purchased in 1991 for a little more than $73,000, due to little demand for its use;
• Received an update on the MBC’s ongoing legal effort to recover five breakaway agencies;
• Heard a clean audit report by Williams Keepers LLC, Certified Public Accountants, for the 2009 fiscal year.