Through August mission gifts from churches through Cooperative Program giving to the Baptist State Convention are a million dollars behind the same period last year, according to statistics released by BSC comptroller Robert Simons.
Cooperative Program receipts are 4.5 percent below those received through August last year and nearly 12 percent behind budget.
Cooperative Program receipts – as are church receipts – are struggling in a national economy that seems to emit more bad news daily. From the beginning of the year BSC leaders have been consciously holding expenses to 90 percent of budget.
Through August, the deficit below budget is greater than 10 percent, but Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer, said, “We remain optimistic that we will not have to look to reserves to meet our operating expenses this year.”
“We are hearing from churches across our state that giving is significantly lower than their budgets, which in turn affects the amounts that churches are able to send through the Cooperative Program,” Hollifield said. “However, we are encouraged that in terms of the percentage of the BSCNC budget, Cooperative Program receipts have actually improved over the last six months. At the end of March, we were 14.87 percent behind the 2008 budget and 7.88 percent below prior year gifts.”
Hollifield said his staff anticipated that a struggling economy “would present challenges for us to operate in the black. Thanks to careful financial management and stewardship we have been able to do that.”
Cooperative Program gifts effect the ministries of every Baptist entity, including the Biblical Recorder, and Hollifield said he recognizes that impact and is “praying for them daily as they struggle to make ends meet.”
He expressed confidence in God’s provisions and “extreme gratitude to the churches which are faithfully supporting the Cooperative Program and ministries of the Baptist State Convention.”
Two of the four giving plans actually show increases, plans B and D. Plan B reduces funds to the Southern Baptist Convention and emphasizes North Carolina based theological education and “special missions.” Plan D restores SBC funds, reduces the portion to BSC ministries and emphasizes special missions and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.
Plan A, the largest and original giving plan, is down 3.2 percent, or $474,662. Plan C, which provides funds for the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, is down 11.4 percent, or $141,788. A subset of Plan A, which is churches that give to Plan A but “exclude SBC” is down 28.3 percent, or $152,852.
Total CP receipts through August are $22,447,036, or $1,066,845 less than the same period a year ago.
Special offerings show similar declines, with the international missions offering down 10.4 percent; North American missions offering down 6.6 percent and the North Carolina Missions Offering down 5.9 percent.