BRIDGETON – The need to care for Missouri’s at-risk children and families doesn’t change during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ministry and operations of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home couldn’t stop either. Staff and caseworkers kept ministry rolling along with enhanced (and sometimes inconvenient) safety measures, and trustees met virtually April 28 to take care of the business side of things.
It wasn’t a typical board meeting, but aside from a little chaos figuring out who seconded which motion via videoconferencing, it went off without a hitch.
“Caring for children and families is always challenging, but these last several months have been more challenging than usual,” said MBCH President Russell Martin. “But our staff has risen to the task, and they’re taking care of the needs of the children and families all across the state and having a real impact. We’re very grateful.”
Though the wheels of the state foster system have slowed due to the pandemic, MBCH Children and Family Ministries have seen 40 permanencies during the first quarter of 2020. Trustees noted 364 people took part in MBCH’s Stewards of Children training. The training a comprehensive awareness program that not only teaches people and what signs and symptoms they need to be looking for, but it also helps them see as a church where the threats really are coming from. It gives them five steps to make a personal prevention plan and also to know how to respond if abuse is discovered, disclosed or suspected.
Trustees reluctantly cancelled the MBCH camp that was previously scheduled to take place at Windermere this summer, but had high hopes to plan “camp-like events” on campus for MBCH residents and clients.
Trustees met with the MBCH’s auditing firm and received an “unmodified opinion,” the best an organization can to ensure it is correctly following procedures and rules when it comes to its finances.
MBCH’s investment portfolio saw a dip due to dramatic swings in the stock market, with investments down 14 percent. The auditors told trustees that its too soon to truly know any real impact on the ministry’s finances, but urged them to monitor and consider the impact in future meetings.
Though the economy is in flux, Martin noted that the MBCH is still in a strong financial position due to holding down expenses and Missouri Baptists’ faithful and generous giving.
“We have had a good year so far,” he said. “I’ve been amazed at the generosity of our donors and churches and how their giving has continued. Many of our sister organizations are struggling when it comes to their giving; ours has held up very, very well, and we praise God for that. God’s people are a gracious and giving people.”
Martin noted the MBCH has a “strong cash position,” but most of their reserves are in the market which has taken a beating. They’ve seen some initial rebound and are saving money on expenses and travel during the slowed activity in the past two months.
Martin said the MBCH financial team considered applying for up to $1.6 million in federal loans to help bridge any financial hardship, but they determined MBCH’s position meant they didn’t currently qualify or need the assistance.
“Our trust is in the Lord,” Martin said. “We’re going to maintain stewardship and be faithful.”