MACON – The First Baptist Church here takes seriously Paul’s call in Romans 13:8 to leave no debt remaining, except the debt to love one another. During their 150th anniversary earlier this fall, the church paid off a 116-year-old debt to the North American Mission Board.
After a fire burned down the church’s building in 1899, the North American Mission Board – then called the Home Mission Society – gave the church a loan of $3,017.25. After the church paid off $1,000, the mission board forgave the remainder of the debt.
More than a century later, the church was practically debt-free.
“The church, before I came, had built a new building debt-free,” said Phil Bray, who joined the ministry staff at FBC Macon in 2011. “And we thought it ironic that we had this technical outstanding debt to NAMB. We had the resources to pay that back and felt that would be the right and honorable thing to do.”
According to Bray, paying off this debt is important in the “entitlement-driven society” of the 21st-century.
“Everybody thinks everything should just be given to them, without a sense of responsibility and ownership for what you should take care of,” Bray said. “So I think paying this debt demonstrates that we did owe, we did borrow that, and the right thing is to pay it back. … It demonstrates that we believe in what NAMB is doing, and they could use the funds to do more ministry.”
During their 150th anniversary celebration in September, they gave a check to a representative from NAMB and are now completely debt-free.