After adopting the report of a special study committee Sept. 30, the Baptist State Convention Board of Directors will recommend that messengers adopt a single, simple giving plan with options when the Convention meets in November.
Giving Plans Study Committee chairman Ed Yount reported the long anticipated results of his task force to the Board.
If adopted, the single Cooperative Program Giving Plan will form the framework for the work of annual budget committees beginning in 2010. No budget allocations were a part of the giving plan presentation.
Yount, pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, chaired a widely diverse 15-person committee named last year by Board of Directors President Allan Blume, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone. Members were from churches who utilized one or more of every giving plan.
Most are not on the Board of Directors but 11 attended the question and answer session Tuesday morning and the board the presentation Tuesday evening.
Yount said the committee wanted its recommendations to protect the autonomy of the local church; be simple, but flexible; and protect ministries that currently depend on the multiple giving plan structure.
Consequently, its final recommendation for a single, Cooperative Program Giving Plan has five parts.
It intends to keep partnership missions and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute funded at levels comparable to their current income from all plans.
A church can make up to three negative designations and its remittance will still count as Cooperative Program giving.
A simple check box on the remittance form will allow a church to designate 10 percent of its gift to the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). That 10 percent will not be counted as Cooperative Program gifts and it does not mean CBF is in the budget.
Two additional check boxes will allow churches to designate two percent of their remittance to support both the Adopt-an-Annuitant program and scholarship aid at Campbell University and Gardner-Webb University divinity schools.
The remittance form will continue to include special offerings approved by the Convention. The Convention will not act as a pass through for gifts to organizations not in the Convention’s budget.
The fate of funds going from one or more of the current giving plans to organizations such as Associated Baptist Press, Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist World Alliance and theological education in non-NC and non-SBC schools will be determined by annual budget committees.
A commitment to Fruitland and to partnership missions were the only stated financial commitments in the giving plan framework.
North Carolina Baptists’ giving plans have been studied virtually bi-annually since the first alternate plan was adopted in 1990 in reaction to the direction of Southern Baptist Convention theological education. A third plan was adopted in 1994 to let churches support the nascent CBF national organization through the BSC budget. In 1998 a fourth plan was developed which decreased the percentage of money supporting the BSC general budget and increased allocations to specific BSC ministries.
These plans became known as Plans A, B, C and D. While they were created to accommodate the special interests of specific groups so they would stay affiliated with the Convention, their power to unify has been diluted in recent years.
In 2007 60 percent of churches, or 1,910, utilized Plan A exclusively; 301 used Plan B exclusively; 160 used Plan C exclusively and 590 used Plan D exclusively. Two hundred sixty-seven churches used multiple giving plans, a number down from its peak of 394 in 2000.
Plan C, the plan identified with churches wanting to support CBF, has been steadily declining in revenue and number of contributing churches as those churches direct their funds through the CBF mission support avenue. The number of “Plan C only” churches peaked at 169 in 2006. It dropped to 160 in 2007 and is at 119 through nine months of 2008.
Committee member Sandra Page from Charlotte said the single plan will encourage greater giving as it offers efficiency and transparency.
“All we tried to do was seek the mind of God and listen to North Carolina Baptists,” said Yount. “We tried to take the politics out of our work and do what was best for the Kingdom. That was our purpose for working and that was our heart.”
Yount and Convention officers and staff who participated in the meetings, repeatedly mentioned how hours in prayer united the diverse committee.
“The plan encourages unity but allows for diversity,” said Page. “More importantly it shows that North Carolina Baptists can serve God while they love each other.”
Committee member Jeff Roberts, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh, said his large, diverse church uses multiple giving plans “and they work very well for us.”
He admitted he was leery of the project at the beginning. He said with 60 percent of churches using Plan A exclusively, they “have the power by the majority to make Plan A the only plan.”
Instead, he said, the process was a picture of grace. “You’ve said to me and churches like ours there’s still a place for you if you want to cooperate and you’ve given us a vehicle to do that.”
Extensive research was conducted, including online, printed and email surveys. Repeatedly, Yount said, the committee heard from North Carolina Baptists that multiple giving plans was just too confusing. "There was a desire for a simple plan that maintained options,” he said. “We sought to simply, unify and increase our giving.”
“Keep this phrase in mind,” Milton Hollifield told Board members. “A simple plan with options.”