BRIDGETON – Trustees met via videoconference and in person – spread out across the MBCH’s chapel – for their board meeting July 28. Though they noted many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, bright spots emerged as well.
Trustees celebrated 42 permanencies in the second quarter, and 80 in 2020 thus far. They lamented a recent United Supreme Court ruling that repealed restrictions on abortion, but celebrated other rulings that affirmed religious ministries like MBCH can hire personnel based on that religious identity.
Gifts from individuals and business is up this year, but fees from the state for service contracts are down sharply, due to the pandemic. Staffing shortages have also led to a lower capacity in MBCH facilities. MBCH investments with the Missouri Baptist Foundation took a hit – as did the rest of the stock market. Investments were down 15-16 percent at the end of the first quarter, though they have rebounded. Investments are currently just 1.7 percent below last year’s balance.
“It takes a little bit of time,” said Neil Franks, MBF president. “We’re doing everything we can to continue to lower fees, get higher returns and align our investments with our mission.”
For family, for life
Trustees approved a plan to partner with the Missouri Baptist Foundation and The Baptist Home in a joint endowment that emphasizes that Missouri Baptists are pro-life, from conception to natural death. Pending approval from Baptist Home trustees, the endowment would educate, advocate and raise funds for both agencies.
Five-year strategic plan
The board approved a strategic plan that has been in the works for more than six months for MBCH and its affiliates. This is part of the normal planning process, but potential threats from those who feel Christian values and mission do not have a place in the public sphere means this strategic plan is coming at a crucial time. The Supreme Court ruling that says ministries can hire based on their religious mission gives MBCH extra incentive to firm up their corporate identity and plans.
Critics of serving the Lord through ministries that have a tie to state funds – such as foster care through MBCH’s Children and Family Ministries – argue that Christians wrongfully discriminate and turn away otherwise qualified prospective parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. It’s a day MBCH hopes and prays never arrives, but it’s not that farfetched. MBCH leadership has said they’d rather be prepared with a plan that solidifies who they are, and what their mission is.
The MBCH mission remains the same in the new plan: “serving God by responding to the needs of children, youth and families to make a lasting difference in their lives.” The plan reiterates that MBCH and its family of corporations is an “unapologetically Christian.” It also reinforces that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the agency’s and its affiliates’ corporate statement of faith and that they bring a biblical worldview to their work on behalf of Missouri’s children and families. The next step is for the corporate affiliates of the MBCH to development their strategic plans in the next few months.