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Economy gets blame for lower BSC budget
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
July 16, 2010
4 MIN READ TIME

Economy gets blame for lower BSC budget

Economy gets blame for lower BSC budget
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
July 16, 2010

Cooperative Program

(CP) mission receipts from North Carolina Baptist churches trail the budget by

11 percent, according to six month statistics released by Baptist State

Convention (BSC) Comptroller Robert Simons.

Receipts trail the

previous year’s income by 7.6 percent or $1.2 million, putting 2010 on track to

be the sixth of the past eight years in which income has fallen short of the

previous year.

Although BSC staff has

kept expenses below income through June, the Executive Committee was warned

that the margin is “razor thin” and supplement from reserves may be required by

year’s end.

Performance to date

prompted the 2011 budget committee to propose to the Executive Committee July

15 a budget for next year that is 6 percent, or $2.1 million, less than the

current budget.

Despite the big drop in

income and in budget, the 2011 budget includes a one-half percent increase in

the portion of CP funds that are forwarded to the national and international

ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The sixth straight year of

one-half percentage point increases to the SBC will put the 2011 division at

65-35, with 35 percent going to the SBC.

“When you decrease

budget and increase the SBC portion, you have to understand this is a difficult

issue related to staff and it seriously impacts the money available for

program,” said Steve Hardy, budget committee chair for the third straight year.

Once again, decreased

allocations to the five Baptist colleges absorb the brunt of decreases in the

budget that will be proposed to messengers at the annual meeting in November.

The 2011 budget is the fourth and final year of a process in which the colleges

gave up their Cooperative Program allocations in favor of autonomy in electing

their own trustees.

The colleges will share

a total decrease in Christian Higher Education of $1.2 million.

Other areas basically

will need to absorb a percentage decrease that reflects the budget drop. That

will cost Christian social services $175,000 in the new budget, including

$125,000 from areas administered by Baptist Children’s Homes: residential care,

developmentally disabled ministry and NCBAM for aging ministries. Their total

drops to $2.9 million.

The Baptist Hospital

School of Pastoral Care is cut $50,000 to $675,000.

Doing everything

“We have reduced the

budget as low as we can go without impacting our service to churches,” John

Butler, executive leader for business services said later. “We really have cut

back programming expenses to the point it’s going to impact our ability to

serve the churches and meet their expectations of us.”

Milton A.

Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, believes the economy

remains the major factor in falling income. BSC income is “a reflection of what

is going on in the churches,” Hollifield said. “We still have churches that

want to increase what they contribute, but they are living with results of

unemployment in their members. I realize there are other factors, but that is

the major factor we’re dealing with right now.”

Butler, who analyzes

the numbers from many angles, said the decrease in income to the Annie

Armstrong Easter Offering for the North American Mission Board is almost

identical to the six-month report to the BSC. He said that similarity indicates

the BSC drop is due overwhelmingly to personal income and giving patterns, and

not to other potential drags such as politics or dissatisfaction with the

Cooperative Program as a missions funding vehicle.

Referring to the two

alternate giving plans eliminated in this year’s budget, Butler said, “We’ve

lost less from our Plans B and C churches than I thought we would, and that’s

encouraging.”

“I am still very

grateful that churches are standing behind their commitment to missions and are

supporting us at the level they are,” said Hollifield. “We will operate with

what God provides us to work with.”

Hollifield said he is

“amazed” at the “amount of work and ministry” that BSC staff are accomplishing

with more limited funds. “We’re doing a lot with a lot less money,” he said.

He said the question

North Carolina Baptists must answer for themselves in the budgeting process in

following years is, “What is important to you? What do you want to fund?”

“I don’t expect the

economy to stay where it is forever,” he said. “Eventually it will turn

around.”