Several leaders of churches that primarily use Plan C as their Cooperative Program giving avenue reacted with some disappointment but little surprise to the Baptist State Convention (BSC) Board of Directors’ recommendation to adopt a single giving plan.
Messengers to the BSC annual meeting Nov. 10-12 will vote on the proposal, which results from a year-long study of the BSC’s four current plans. Three plans support the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and BSC causes to varying degrees. Plan C alone directs 10 percent to support the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and the BSC.
The single giving plan proposal enables churches to support CBF by checking a box on the remittance form that would send 10 percent of the gift to CBF. It does not include CBF as a part of the BSC budget. Money going to CBF will not be counted as Cooperative Program gifts, which is one method used to determine the number of messengers churches can send to the annual meeting.
Daniel Glaze, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ahoskie, said he understands that some people who want a single, simplified giving plan are acting in the spirit of unity.
“Unity is a good thing; however, it should be embraced and not imposed,” he said. “This feels like an imposition of unity to me.”
Glaze said he is afraid that giving to organizations such as Baptist Joint Committee and the Baptist World Alliance could potentially be cut by future budget committees that “deem them unworthy of inclusion in the unified plan.”
Under the proposal those recommendations would be made each year by the budget committee.
Glaze is also concerned that theological education grants that were included in plans B and C will eventually be eliminated.
The proposal calls for the church remittance form to have two additional check boxes that will allow churches to designate two percent of their gifts to support both the Adopt-an-Annuitant program and scholarship aid at Campbell University and Gardner-Webb University divinity schools.
Glaze said he feels it is disingenuous to say the new proposal is a plan with options. While there are checkboxes and negative designations are allowed, “That's where the power of the church to direct its missions dollars ends,” he said.
Glaze said the Mission Resource Plan of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina allows churches to direct to the penny how much each organization or agency receives of a given check.
“If renowned missiologist Rob Nash is correct that the 21st Century is the age of the local church (as opposed to the denomination or missions sending agency), then denominational leadership needs to loosen the reins of control and allow greater flexibility for the local church,” he said.
Scott Hagaman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marion, said it’s good that the plan allows churches affiliated with the CBF to participate.
“Considering the strong desire by Convention folks to go to a single plan, I’m surprised the proposed plan is as flexible as it is,” he said.
Hagaman, whose church withdrew from the SBC six years ago, said if the new plan would have mandated giving to the SBC, it would have pushed churches like his away.
“This will allow us to participate if the church so chooses,” he said.
He said a church excluding the SBC and checking the box for CBF would be similar to Plan C and “seems to be in the spirit of keeping some folks at the table who are already there,” he said.
Ken Massey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Greensboro, said allowing churches to give to CBF by checking a box might be the BSC leaders' way to "soften" the effect of going to one giving plan.
He said his church would likely use one of its exclusions on the SBC and check the box to give money to CBF.
He said his church, which had previously allowed members of the congregation to choose from several giving options, recently adopted a "unified giving plan."
"Since we're doing it, I can hardly be critical of somebody else doing it," he said.
He said he doubts the move will be controversial. "I can't imagine any type of big uproar about it," he said.
David Helms, pastor of First Baptist Church in Southern Pines, said his church is primarily a Plan C church but gives church members a choice.
The BSC proposal limits choices, Helms said, adding that such moves seem to be increasing, which makes it harder for churches to work together.
Helms said his congregation now has three choices. One favors SBC, one favors CBF and one splits between the two.
“That’s the way we like to do it — give people choices,” he said.