Louisville—Poised to see one of its best years in Cooperative Program giving in several years, if giving trends of Kentucky Baptist churches continue, the Mission Board adopted a $21.5 million budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The board’s action followed the state convention’s latest financial report, which shows Kentucky Baptist churches have given $14,837,526 during the past eight months since the start of its fiscal year—topping last year’s total at this point by $262,261 and exceeding budget projections by $670,859.
“Kentucky Baptists still believe in working together, as is evidenced by the fact that the Cooperative Program is at its highest point that it has been in the past 5 years,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “In fact, for the current fiscal year, churches are giving 5 percent above the budget.”
The new budget, which represents a boost of $250,000 over last year’s, appropriates $9,997,500 to Southern Baptist Convention causes and $11,502,500 to Kentucky Baptist Convention missions and ministries and its agencies and institutions.
Among the Mission Board’s allocations, the KBC’s Missions Mobilization team will receive $1,303,247, the Church Consulting & Revitalization team will receive $2,570,029, and the Evangelism & Church Planting team will receive $2,646,350.
In moving to a 50-50 split with the Southern Baptist Convention, Kentucky Baptists already have completed a task that other state conventions are just beginning, noted Lowell Ashby, team leader of the KBC Business and Finance team. Since 2011-12, the KBC has forwarded 46.5 percent for SBC causes and retained 46.5 percent for KBC missions and ministries, while splitting 7 percent for CP promotional funding.
Kentucky Baptists also have given more than $1.1 million during the past 8 months for state missions through the Eliza Broadus offering and more than $5.1 million for international missions through the Lottie Moon offering, Ashby reported to the Mission Board. Meanwhile, the Annie Armstrong offering for North American missions has topped $1.5 million, he added.
“Kentucky Baptists generously give about $35 million annually for all missions causes,” Ashby said. “Additionally, last year Kentucky also saw the largest increase in its Cooperative Program percentage of undesignated gifts from the previous year, increasing to almost 6.5 percent,” he said.
The amount represents the largest annual uptick to Cooperative Program giving in this century, Ashby noted, adding that “the upward trend in giving means more people will hear the gospel message.”
“Almost every offering that comes into the KBC, from EBO to Barkley Moore (for Oneida Baptist Institute) are all more than last year,” reported Steve Bruce, chairman of the business and finance committee. The Lottie Moon offering total was up $315,806, and the Annie Armstrong offering is up $374,416 through April, he noted.
“And, if trends continue, we will go over the $22 million mark (CP budget), helping us to reach more with the gospel,” Bruce reiterated, urging Mission Board members to go back their churches and encourage the people, “so we can send not just one more, but two more, three more (new missionaries) … to share the gospel.”
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood, in updating Mission Board members on the convention’s cooperative missions work, shared more cause for celebration, highlighting increases in baptisms, total church membership and CP giving.
Chitwood noted that the number of church members engaged in mission trips was up last year to a record high of 105,415 people. He also emphasized that the KBC has helped churches start 25 new churches and currently has 50 church plants in a three-year funding launch phase.
The KBC is continuing to “double down on its efforts to help Kentucky Baptists engage the political process,” Chitwood continued, noting recent legislative victories, such as the Kentucky Safe Infants Act and the revised informed consent law.
“As these issues illustrate, politics is a lot more than budgets and elections,” he said. “We must continue to use our pulpits and the collective voice of Kentucky Baptists to speak for justice and liberty.”
In other actions, the Mission Board approved a recommendation for a 1 percent pay increase for KBC staff and appointed Rick Howardton of LifeWay Christian Resources as the new south central region pastoral ministry consultant (see related story).
In his remarks to the board, KBC President Kevin Smith called on Kentucky Baptists to be courageous people in these challenging days, and highlight characteristics that all believers should reflect as God’s faithful people.
“Nothing divides the body (of Christ) like cowardice in the face of challenging times,” he said, paraphrasing Joshua’s charge to “choose whom you will serve.”
“Remember we’re always pushing His people to consider a choice of faithfulness to God or adherence to idols, of following His ways or those of the surrounding culture or nation,” he said.
Yet, in the midst of a progressively ungodly culture that is twisting God’s ordain pattern for family, Christians cannot be selfish or resentful with the mercy of God, Smith maintained. “That’s why we want to go, because he’s a merciful and gracious God.” (WR)