Reflecting on the year that has passed by so quickly, I am grateful not only for what our churches have accomplished but for the long, rich legacy God has given Kentucky Baptists. Our gospel work is a sacred stewardship dating back to 1837. God has used Kentucky Baptists in a unique way to model and inspire cooperative mission work far beyond the borders of our state.
In fact, the idea of the Cooperative Program originated in Kentucky. On Nov. 16, 1915, the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky (now called the Kentucky Baptist Convention) met in the church where I was raised, baptized, married and ordained, First Baptist Church of Jellico, Tenn. The church is literally a stone’s throw from the Kentucky state line.
During that meeting, Kentucky Baptists adopted a budget plan conceived by First Baptist Church of Murray, Ky., and their pastor, Harvey Boyce Taylor. The unified budget plan provided for the support of all denominational projects throughout the state and the Southern Baptist Convention. That plan would later become the model for the SBC Cooperative Program.
The historic, cumulative giving of Kentucky Baptists through what we know as the Cooperative Program now totals more than $820 million. What an incredible stewardship!
How many churches have been started and strengthened with these funds? How many orphans have been cared for? How many hungry have been fed? How many gospel ministers have been educated at our colleges and seminaries? How many victims of tornado, flood or hurricane have found a hot shower, a warm meal, and a helping hand? How many missionaries have been supported across the globe? Most importantly, how many souls will be in heaven as a direct result of God using the ministries funded by Kentucky Baptists through the CP?
The cooperative mission work of Kentucky Baptists is a thriving work. I’ve been serving either as a pastor in Kentucky or as a state missionary for nearly a quarter of a century but have never witnessed a more harmonious, peaceful, and celebratory season. I thank God for the prevailing spirit of unity and cooperation among Kentucky Baptists and am grateful for the way our pastors and staff members seek to foster that unity and cooperation.
Having served in my current role for 5� years now, I can unequivocally state that I am more optimistic about the future of our cooperative mission work than ever. God has given us great pastors all across the state, a tremendous state mission board staff team, and, most importantly, His gracious hand of favor upon our work, which we know to be His work. These are good days to be a Kentucky Baptist.
Paul Chitwood is the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.