JEFFERSON CITY—The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board voted without opposition April 12 to approve a budget goal for 2012 of $14.5 million, which is approximately $15,000 less than last year’s intake.
In keeping with Missouri’s stated commitment to one day reach a 50-50 balance in fund distribution, 37.25 percent of the budget will be allocated toward Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes (up from 37 percent in 2011) and 62.75 percent for MBC causes.
Times are hard. Chairman John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, acknowledged that staff cuts may occur while cautioning Missouri Baptists not to affix blame to any one particular source. The need to respect the Organizational Study Group (OSG) report, to flow with epic changes at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), and to face up to declining Cooperative Program (CP) gifts are all creating a rough landscape for Interim Executive Director Jay Hughes, Marshall said.
“Let’s say we have two positions that need to be cut in July,” Marshall said. “Your assumption’s going to be, ‘That’s OSG.’ That might not have anything at all to do with OSG. It might be the personnel, the sheer dollars-and-cents decision.”
Hughes, who took on the interim role in January, was stark in his outlook.
“We’ve got some financial impact on us that (will) cause us to take a hard look at our budget coming back in July,” Hughes said, identifying a potential $500,000 shortfall that must be addressed.
“If you will allow us to come back with a budget in July that looks through the lens of this OSG report and what the future’s going to look like, that freedom will help us to be able to make decisions on what we need to do.”
The projected budgets for the 2012 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering of $3.75 million, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering of $2 million, the World Hunger Offering of $250,000, and the Missouri Missions Offering of $675,000 were all lowered from 2011, except for Annie Armstrong and World Hunger which stayed the same.
Funding for CP promotion is changing. Instead of a budget item being set aside off the top, the Executive Board budget will now take it, Hughes said. This lines up with a 2010 SBC reform that urged the states, not Nashville, Tenn., to take the lead in elevating CP.
Hughes continues to feel the weight of NAMB’s monumental shift. Weekly and even daily information exchanges are marked by fluidity. The MBC has 16 employees who appear to be transitioning from 50/50 NAMB joint agreements to something called Integrated Strategic Partnerships (ISPs), but the status and shape of NAMB’s new lineup of positions remains unclear.
“We think what’s going to happen is 2012 is going to be a transition year for NAMB, and in 2013 everything’s going to kind of be in place for the church planting strategy,” Hughes said.
“We know based on our conversations that we have about 8-12 positions potentially that are not going to fit into the North American Mission Board strategy. So we are going to try to get ready for that this year.”
There is some positive financial news. The Vivian McCaughan Missional Living Endowment Fund is up to $947,000, and a $163,000 surplus at the end of last year was mostly ($122,000) applied to the New Building Fund and otherwise ($41,000) put toward organizational development. The New Building Fund is now up to $774,000, Hughes said. Another ongoing plus is $2.9 million in reserves, which represents 4-5 months in operating expenses.
The MBC’s legal action to recover five breakaway agencies is ongoing, as is the collecting system for the litigation. Dollar amounts for Plan A (churches designating for legal expenses) and Plan B (churches opting out) had been running about 50-50, but now Plan B is up to 53 percent, Hughes said.
In other business, Executive Board members:
• Chose to house the Old Bethel church minute book on loan indefinitely at the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center, with the MBC retaining ownership of the book;
• Voted to place before messengers to the MBC annual meeting changes updating Hannibal-LaGrange College to Hannibal-LaGrange University in the bylaws and business and financial plan, and striking all references to Word & Way, which is an extension of last year’s board vote to exclude the Word & Way, or its agents, from all Executive Board and committee meetings of the MBC;
• Authorized the renewal of a $500,000 loan from Hawthorn Bank;
• Opted to repay $25,000 into reserves from the Agency Restoration Fund as part of the repayment of a $150,000 bridge loan made last year to pay immediate legal bills; and
• Allocated the expenditure of $17,140 to repair the roof of the Baptist Building.
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor