What puts the “missionary” into Locust Grove Missionary Baptist Church?
Pastor Ben Whitmire says it’s their Cooperative Program giving.
The 600-member congregation will give five percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program (CP) in 2012, but members have committed to increase their support by one percent a year until they reach a full 10 percent.
BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Ben Whitmire leads Locust Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
“We believe that our mission dollars can’t be spent any better than through the Cooperative Program. We believe the Cooperative Program supports the greatest missionary-sending organization in the world,” Whitmire said.
Locust Grove has a Weaverville address. The building sits alongside a winding rural road just off U.S. 23/I-26 north of Asheville, in the hills that roll up toward the Tennessee border.
Why the increased CP support by Locust Grove members?
That came about because Whitmire has served two years as a board member of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville and just completed his first year as a member of the Baptist State Convention’s board of directors.
It was an eye-opening experience for him.
“I absolutely learned a lot more about what Baptists accomplish together. I knew they were doing a lot of great things, but now I see more in focus what they’re doing.
“If more North Carolina Baptists knew the great things we’re doing in missions and ministry through the different missions organizations we’re a part of, I think they would very much support the Cooperative Program,” Whitmire said.
His work with Fruitland showed him that Baptists partnering together can create, sustain and grow an impressive educational ministry. Fruitland is a ministry which to date has trained the pastors of more than 800 North Carolina Baptist churches.
In recent years Fruitland has begun offering instruction in Spanish at its main campus and opened three satellite centers teaching in Spanish in Statesville, Winston-Salem and Wilmington.
“We definitely love Fruitland and we love the partnership that Fruitland has with the Baptist State Convention. We know that without those Cooperative Program dollars Fruitland wouldn’t exist,” he said. Through CP giving, Locust Grove supports a wide range of other ministries across North Carolina, including:
• starting 125 new churches in 2010;
• the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina;
• a youth program that reached more than 7,000 young people this year; evangelism and church growth ministry, prayer ministry, women’s ministry, partnership missions and many kinds of pastor and church staff support;
Plus, Cooperative Program funds the North American Mission Board (NAMB), International Mission Board (IMB) and six seminaries. NAMB supports evangelism and church planting across the U.S. and Canada with some 5,000 missionaries. IMB has about the same number of missionaries seeking to reach unreached people groups. Six Southern Baptist seminaries, including Southeastern in Wake Forest, equip more than 13,000 for church leadership and mission service.