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Raleigh association plans for ministry, economy
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor
January 04, 2011
4 MIN READ TIME

Raleigh association plans for ministry, economy

Raleigh association plans for ministry, economy
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor
January 04, 2011

Churches aren’t the only entities feeling the economic

pinch.

Associations like Raleigh Baptist Association (RBA) have

noticed changes in giving as well.

“We are trying to deal with the realities,” said Roger Nix,

RBA’s executive director. “We have a whole lot of churches that are suffering

paying back debt.”

Debt accrued from building programs in more burgeoning

times.

The current economic outlook has provided a “whole different

set of circumstances” than the association or even churches were expecting.

Nix and association leaders have been tracking trends within

the association in order to help them plan. He sees a lag between what the

general public economy and the church experiences.

With an annual budget of $505,000 — $625,000 with restricted

funds for ministry partnerships — Nix estimated that 2010’s income is down

about 12 percent over 2009’s amount.

The association aims to keep within its budget each year and

has built up a “good reserve.” In 2010, RBA exceeded its budget by two percent.

With 138 churches in the association, Nix said the income from churches was off

by three percent or $12,000. He said 95 of the 138 churches in the association

give money. Of those 38 churches have given more, 42 have given less and 14

have given the same.

Nix said 95 churches giving is “about on par with every

year” but the pattern of giving has changed slightly. In a typical year 50

churches give more and 30 give less.

It wasn’t just money either. Nix said several of the

ministries were behind their normal rates for the year. For example, the number

of cakes donated for prisons in December “was down pretty significantly,” he

said.

Helping non-profits

One of the ministries of Raleigh Baptist Association that

has been affected has been its relationship with non-profit organizations.

Previously, office space was rented to local non-profits but those non-profits

have been feeling the economic downturn as well. Firm Foundations, which worked

with Raleigh and Wake County to rehabilitate homes, relied on federal funds

that have dried up with the economy. The office used to have four offices

within the RBA building. Now, the director works out of his home.

Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) continues to operate out

of the RBA. Nix said the association hoped to start a counseling ministry

linked to Congregational Health but that also relies on funding.

“It’s really hard to work those details out,” Nix said.

Being proactive

One of the ways Raleigh Baptist Association leaders are

trying to plan for the future is considering the possibility of selling their

property. Valued at approximately $2.3 million, the association pays $46,000 a

year — nine percent of its 2011 budget — toward its building debt. A vote in

its Oct. 26, 2010, associational meeting allowed the Resource Commission to

research the possibility.

The current resource center is 11,550 square feet. With the

non-profits moving out and changing needs, Nix estimated 7,500 square feet

would be enough. The multi-purpose room, which is 1,300 square feet, does not

suitably meet the needs of the five new church starts that have been using the

space for about a year.

The December newsletter said mission gifts have been

declining the last three years and ministry partnerships with the Baptist State

Convention and the North American Mission Board “will disappear over the next

several years.”

Two neighbors have expressed interest in acquiring the

property.

Nix said that if the association does move forward with this

sell, the association will likely relocate in the same area.

He estimates that it would cost $1.2 million to build a more

suitable building and relocation.

The next associational meeting is slated for April.

“We’re trying to put our house in order,” Nix said. “No plan

is a plan to fail.”

That’s why Nix said associational leaders are trying to be

proactive.

If the Commission hears anything sooner than the April

meeting they can have a called meeting to discuss options.

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