Mission gifts from North Carolina Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program were down 4.8 percent from 2007, according to final figures from the Baptist State Convention (BSC).
This marks the second consecutive year and fourth year of the past six that one year’s gifts were lower than the previous year. The 2008 gifts missed the budget by 11.5 percent, or $4.5 million, which has prompted internal budget adjustments for 2009.
The $34,485,968 given in 2008 was $1.7 million lower than in 2007 and actually $1.1 million lower than gifts in 2002.
Despite the shortfalls, John Butler, BSC executive leader for business services, said the Convention finished operations in the black. Convention, board and board group operations comprise just $14.5 million of a $39 million budget, so the Convention does not suffer the full brunt of a shortfall.
BSC agencies and institutions and the national mission partners, whose Cooperative Program income is based on a percentage of receipts at the Convention office, share the pain. The $39.3 million budget adopted in 2007 for 2009 still includes $3.4 million for the colleges, which are in the second year of their decreasing income from Cooperative Program, which they gave up in exchange for the ability to name their own trustees. Baptist Retirement Homes receives nothing.
In a press release, Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSCNC executive director-treasurer expressed gratitude “to North Carolina Baptist churches who have continued to support Cooperative Program missions through the BSCNC even when many local church budgets are running at deficit levels.”
He anticipates operating “at reduced levels of income for several months before we see the economy significantly improve. We will adapt, adjust and function with the resources that God provides through the churches of this great Convention. We remain grateful for the work of our churches and their ongoing investment in the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.”
The 2009 budget retains the four North Carolina Cooperative Program giving plans, which will be reduced to one for the 2010 budget, following action of Convention messengers in November.
In 2008 Plan A, the original plan through which 65 percent of income is received, was down 3.77 percent, to $22.3 million.
Plan B, which emphasizes North Carolina theological education and special missions, and forwards only 10 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), rather than the 33.5 percent of Plan A, was up 2.8 percent to $2.8 million.
Plan C, which also favors theological education and special missions in North Carolina, forwards nothing to the SBC and sends 10 percent to the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, was down 11.9 percent to $1.7 million.
Plan D, which forwards 33.5 percent to the SBC, devotes just 50 percent, rather than 66.5 percent to the work of the Baptist State Convention, and gives an additional five percent to Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, was up 4 percent to $6 million.
The 33.5 percent forwarded to the SBC in plans A and D increases to 34 percent in the 2009 budget.
Special offerings took a hit in 2008, as well. After a record setting year in 2007, special offerings for national and international missions plunged. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions was down 15.6 percent to $12.8 million. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for national missions was down 6.5 percent to $6.1 million.
The North Carolina Missions Offering was down 11.7 percent, to $2,004,499. That offering did meet its goal of $2 million, a goal reduced from the previous year’s $2.5 million when Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina was removed as a recipient.
North Carolina Baptist Men is the largest recipient of NCMO funds, at $793,000. Director Richard Brunson said the offering makes possible ministry efforts such as disaster relief, partnerships and the medical-dental bus.
“We’re real grateful that churches gave and we were able to reach the goal,” he said.