West Kentucky church gives nearly 25 percent to missions
EDDYVILLE—First Baptist Church of Eddyville gives 19 percent of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program with an additional 3 percent to the local association, Caldwell-Lyon Baptist Association, and other missions support, making a combined total of nearly 25 percent of offering receipts going to missions causes.
This “culture of misisons,” as director of misisons Rick Reeder deemed it, is no new thing to the church. The Western Kentucky church that averages 200 on Sundays has done this for 41 years, surpassing the $1 million contributed to CP mark years ago. Through the generosity of its members, Eddyville has sustained this level of giving.
The congregation began giving 19 percent in 1967 under RG Shelton, pastor at the time. For five years, this level continued. When he left, the amount dropped down to 10 percent. Over the next 15 years, the numbers fluctuated anywhere from 14 to 18 percent.
But at the urging of Priscilla Hatler, a member in her later years and local pastor’s wife, and under the leadership of Phillip Basinger, the church recommitted to giving nearly 20 percent, according to Tim Purdue, pastor of Eddyville First for the past 17 years.
“Our people just see the importance of giving,” Perdue shared. “In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve probably only preached on tithing and giving no more than three or four times. They just give, you know.”
Perdue continued, “A lot of times in a church, when people aren’t giving near as much, the Cooperative Program seems to be the thing that people cut.”
But this is not the case at Eddyville First. “I think that in the past, the pastors who have been here have fought to keep that the same, and I have too. I think that’s been the heart of the pastors,” he shared.
Purdue recounted times that other pastors that preceded him stood their ground in the fight for Cooperative Program giving, leading their congregation to continue. Reeder echoed this sentiment and pointed to the encouragement from ladies involved in Eddyville First’s Women’s Missionary Union for this effort.
“It’s not just missions somewhere else,” Reeder added, emphasizing the many outreaches of Eddyville First. “It’s very much outreach in the community as well. Recently they went to over a thousand homes with a packet delivering a New Testament, having an encounter with the people there with the gospel and trying to do outreach in that way.
“I think that they are very involved and interested in trying to not only reach the community, but places at a distance as well,” Reeder said.
Ever the visionary pastor, Perdue added, “We’re a very mission-minded church. What I’d like for us to do is be mission geared, not just mission minded. We give. I think that our church has the vision of the giving thing. They’re unbelievable givers.”
His goal is to see the church’s mission strategy grow even more.
“The Cooperative Program is the one thing that connects us,” Perdue said, explaining why the church emphasizes missions giving in such a way. “It’s rare for churches to be sort of independent but cooperate together in misisons. That’s sort of an unusual situation.
“Definitely the Cooperative Program was a God-thing,” he added. “When it started, it was an unbelievable idea. It benefits the state of Kentucky, benefits all of our schools and all of our entities in the Southern Baptist Convention and it’s just a hug gift that God gave to Southern Baptists.” (WR)