PADUCAH—Mexico Baptist Church has more than doubled its missions giving during Tim Burdon’s 10-year tenure, but the pastor says he simply jumped on board a fast-moving train.
“This church is very missions-minded,” said Burdon, whose Crittenden County congregation gives 25 percent of its undesignated offerings to support missions and ministries through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program. “It just needed somebody in the engine.”
Burdon came to the Marion area in October 2003 after 11 years at Whitesville Baptist Church near Owensboro. Mexico Baptist’s gifts that year were nearly $53,000; in 2012 they surpassed $112,000.
For his commitment to missions support through the Cooperative Program, Burdon will receive the CP Distinguished Leadership Award during the 176th Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Nov. 12 at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah.
In 1925, the Kentucky Baptist Convention adopted the Cooperative Program, a unified plan of funding Southern Baptist and Kentucky Baptist missions and ministries. To date Kentucky Baptists have contributed more than $750 million through CP.
Kentucky Baptists annually recognize churches as top CP supporters in total and per capita giving. Mexico Baptist Church has been singled out as a top per capita giver repeatedly. This year the congregation ranks second in the category.
“Tim Burdon serves a church that has always exhibited a sacrificial commitment to reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ,” KBC Executive Director-Treasurer Paul Chitwood said.
“Tim has led Mexico Baptist to maintain and strengthen that commitment and is very deserving of this award.”
In referring to Burdon, KBC Associate Executive Director Curtis Woods quoted a noted seminary professor, the late Howard Hendricks, who said: “We hold beliefs, but convictions hold us.”
“Tim Burdon is a man of conviction,” Woods said. “He stands head and shoulders above most in his commitment to, and confidence in, the genius of the Cooperative Program. We are thankful for his leadership.”
A leader in the Ohio River Baptist Association, Burdon has served repeated terms on the KBC Mission Board, as well as the convention’s administrative committee.
Growing up in a Pentecostal church, the Henderson native accepted Christ at age 17. His brother, an assistant pastor at Washington Baptist Church in Evansville, Ind., led him to receive Jesus as Savior and become a member of that church.
Two months later, Burdon felt God’s calling to preach. His first pastorate, in 1983, was Whispering Meadows Baptist Chapel, a mission of First Baptist Church of Morganfield.
At that time, Steve Thompson, former KBC assistant executive director, was pastor of the sponsoring congregation.
Thompson described Burdon as “evangelistic” and “warm-hearted,” adding that “Tim serves as a good role model for other pastors.
“He does this in a rural church that is not in a growing area,” said Thompson, who now serves as assistant to the president of University of the Cumberlands. “Tim represents many other pastors who are and have served unselfishly, without thought of recognition.”
Although Burdon didn’t grow up Southern Baptist, he said that after his conversion, he frequently attended national conventions and developed a keen awareness of the SBC’s cooperative efforts.
The pastor takes no credit for Mexico Baptist’s staunch support, saying that goes all the way back to 1946.
“This has been a long-standing history of this church,” Burdon said. “When I came here, I thought, ‘We’re going to fuel this.’ As people began to join, by the nature of our (set percentage), our dollars increased.”
Thompson noted that in recent years, the congregation increased its giving through CP even as they raised funds to expand their facility.
The church’s generosity extends well beyond 25 percent. It gives another five percent to the Ohio River Baptist Association, plus special missions offerings and gifts to needy in the community.
Congregational giving is on the upswing, too. The church recently voted to allocate 25 percent of its fifth-Sunday building fund offerings through CP, taking the initial step in late September.
Burdon cites two reasons for this focus, starting with the multiple mission groups—such as Woman’s Missionary Union, Royal Ambassadors and Mission Friends—that meet monthly to plan and report on projects.
The second is Missions Coordinator Denny Mott, an active Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer and leader. Mott recently returned from New York, where he served on a chainsaw crew cleaning up from last year’s Hurricane Sandy.
“He spearheads a lot of different things,” Burdon said. “Denny does a great job of encouraging everyone to go on trips.”
Describing his flock as “gracious and generous,” Burdon said he knows their giving is why God has blessed the rural church, which averages 225 in Sunday attendance.
Burdon recommends that all pastors lead their churches to participate fully in the Cooperative Program, which in Kentucky funds the training and services provided by the KBC Mission Board staff, makes possible more than 20 Kentucky Baptist Campus Ministry groups, and helps support 10 KBC-affiliated agencies and institutions.
Outside Kentucky, CP gifts support the work of the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board and other Southern Baptist causes.
A pastor who embraces cooperative giving “and his congregation are going to be blessed,” Burdon said. “How many churches have we heard say they’ve been blessed by helping others? That’s true. When you give, that blessing is going to turn around. That’s what God has done for us.”
Story by Ken Walker, KBC Communications