Published November 24, 2005
Georgia Baptists celebrated Thanksgiving a week early this year. At the annual meeting in Columbus, a glowing 80-candle five-tiered cake was presented to messengers, signifying the celebration of 80 years of the Cooperative Program.
The program was an idea that began out of necessity, but one that has flourished because of the strength of many.
In the early part of the last century, SBC agencies and the state agencies were funded by direct contributions solicited by each group.
"Each agency had its own development office. Some agencies were funded better than others because some had better speakers than others," said Michael Williams, GBC assistant executive director and vice president for operations.
In 1922 the Southern Baptist Convention initiated the $75 Million Campaign to help agencies with debt.
"This was during the pre-depression years, at a time in the South when cotton prices were declining. The strength of the SBC was in the deep South, so it was a difficult time (economically)," Williams said.
The convention fell short of the $75 million goal, but learned the power of cooperation.
In 1925, the SBC Committee on Cooperation voted to accept the newly proposed Cooperative Program. All states were challenged to participate.
That same year, on Dec. 10 in Savannah, the Georgia executive director, Archibald Cree, presented the first state Cooperative Program budget, called the "United Kingdom Plan," for $750,000. To raise the budget, the convention created the "Every Church Canvass" plan, which charged a committee to contact every church and ask for a pledge.
Four generations later, the Georgia Baptist Convention voted to support a $50,500,000 budget. This past year Cooperative Program gifts supported a variety of ministries and missions, including international missionaries who reported a record 607,000 baptisms.
"That means that for every $17.52 given through the Cooperative Program to the International Mission Board, one person is baptized in the world," Williams said. "In other words, 1,662 new believers come to Christ every day or 70 are saved every hour."
The Cooperative Program ultimately helps Georgia Baptists to obey the Great Commission, said J. Robert White, GBC executive director.
"If you believe that Christ commanded us through the Great Commission to go with the Gospel into all the world, how are you going to do that without something like the Cooperative Program? The only alternative is to ignore Christ's command, which is unthinkable. It is not an option," White said.
Did you know . . .
The Cooperative Program is the most effective and efficient channel of mission support ever developed and has served as a major factor in helping Southern Baptists become one of the largest and most effective missionary forces in the world, said Allen Hill, Cooperative Program specialist at GBC.
For more information about the Cooperative Program or for CP educational materials, contact Allen Hill at email@example.com or (770) 936-5241 or 1(800) RING-GBC.
You and your church may send Cooperative Program gifts to:
Dr. J. Robert White
Executive Director, GBC
2930 Flowers Rd., S.
Atlanta, GA 30341-5562
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