N.C. Baptist associations face economic woes
Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor
March 11, 2009

N.C. Baptist associations face economic woes

N.C. Baptist associations face economic woes
Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor
March 11, 2009

N.C. Baptist associations are facing financial trouble with one dealing with a $35,000 budget shortfall over 16 months and another falling $11,000 behind in the first five months of its budget year.

Billy Honeycutt, director of missions for the Green River Baptist Association in Rutherfordton and president of the N.C. associational missionaries organization last year, said he knows of seven or eight associations facing financial challenges.

“It is impacting all associations,” he said.

Honeycutt said his association’s budget year starts in October and ends in September.

“We’re already $11,000 behind through five months,” he said.

In looking to help manage expenses, even compensation for staff is being considered, Honeycutt said. He said he was telling church leaders that they need to meet their own obligations first but try to remember the association’s needs as well.

“It’s probably going to keep getting tighter before it loosens up,” he said.

Haywood Baptist Association in Clyde had about a $21,000 deficit in its last budget year that ran from October 2007 to September 2008, and Director of Missions Jack Sammons says the association fell behind another $14,000 in the first four months of this fiscal year. He called attention to the shortfall in an article on the front of the association’s March newsletter. He said he had gotten positive and negative feedback.

“Everybody’s shocked,” he said.

The association’s Executive Committee is scheduled to meet March 17 to discuss the issue. The Stewardship Committee is planning to ask the Executive Committee to use funds from a recent sale of property to deal with the situation. Sammons said the money from the sale was supposed to go toward a building, but that project is now on hold.

Several associational ministries continue to operate in the black because of gifts given specifically for them, according to Sammons.

“The money given to association causes is up, but it’s designated,” he said.

Some people are selective in their gifts, Sammons said.

“They give to something they can go see and touch,” he said.

Sammons said money given for the association budget in February looks better, but not significantly. The association’s financial situation needs “a whole lot of prayer,” he said

Leaders of other N.C. Baptist associations said they are watching their financial situations closely even though they are not in immediate trouble.

Bob Lowman, executive director of the Metrolina Baptist Association in Charlotte, said the association made some cuts a few years ago that are helping the budget now.

“We’re doing OK at this point, but we’re being cautious as well,” he said.

David Phelps, director of missions for the Atlantic Baptist Association in Havelock, said the association has cut some expenses.

“Right now, our finances are staying steady, but I’m not taking it for granted,” he said.

The lack of decreases might be attributed to the strength of the military in the area, Phelps said.

The association was expected to hold a meeting March 9 to discuss finances. The gathering will have the theme, “Faith vs. Fear.”

Phelps said speakers will urge Christians to take what could be a stumbling block and turn it into a stepping-stone that will serve as a witness for non-churchgoers.

“The churched and the non-churched are going through this together,” he said.