Published February 1, 2007
ALPHARETTA — The North American Mission Board has released a statement in response to a book written by a former employee that details what she considered to be objectionable operating procedures during the agency’s founding years.
Mary Kinney Branson, who served as one of the agency’s first women directors, retired on her own timetable as director of marketing in 2004. While she does take issue with how the agency spent contributor’s dollars, she maintains that the agency today is perhaps one of the safest investments due to its new stance on openness and transparency.
That observation may be shared by Southern Baptists nationwide, who just gave a record $58.5 million to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. The final amount exceeded the previous year’s goal by more than $2 million.
Branson’s book, which was released in early January, was in production before The Index published its Feb. 16, 2005 analysis of the agency titled “North America: Hanging in the balance.”
The agency’s statement is as follows:
North American Mission Board Statement Regarding Spending God’s Money
During the spring of 2006, an article in the Georgia Christian Index raised a number of questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of the North American Mission Board. In response to these concerns, the Chairman of NAMB’s Board of Trustees appointed a task force to assess the claims and bring a report back to the full board of trustees. Similarly, an internal audit was conducted by Capin Crouse related to policy issues within the executive offices at NAMB. Both groups published reports including policy recommendations designed to provide increased accountability within the agency. In October, 2006, our Board of Trustees adopted these new policy recommendations and created a new trustee committee tasked with oversight of policy development and compensation assessment.
Recently, Mary Kinney Branson, a former NAMB employee, published a book entitled Spending God’s Money. In this book, she recounts personal events from her time at the Home Mission Board and NAMB. While some of the issues she discusses in the book were examined as part of work of the Trustee Task Force, other issues she discusses are based on her personal experiences, her personal opinion, or hearsay. The North American Mission Board will not comment on internal issues described in the book which are outside the scope of the work of the Trustee Task Force. This is not because NAMB is unwilling to address its problems—the clarity and transparency of the Task Force Report show the willingness of our trustees to deal with agency challenges. Rather, it is because many of the claims made by the author cannot be substantiated or represent only one side of the story.
We regret that while telling her story, the author called into question the character of many current and former employees; people who were not given the opportunity to respond to her charges. Regardless, those events are now in the past, and NAMB is now pressing on into the future. The North American Mission Board and its trustees stand behind the report of the Task Force and the policies which have been adopted as a result. During the past year, the North American Mission Board has worked diligently to refocus its vision and reconnect with its state partners. The January 4, 2007 issue of the Georgia Christian Index provides a helpful overview of the current status of ministry at NAMB during this season of transition.
While the North American Mission Board would take issue with a number of suggestions in the book, not the least of which is the writer’s call to do away with “SBC-style cooperative missions” through large agencies, NAMB does support the call to all churches and SBC entities to function within a system of accountability. NAMB, through the diligence of its trustees and staff, is modeling this type of accountability and oversight in the Southern Baptist Convention. And Southern Baptists are the true beneficiaries. The trustees, NAMB staff and missionaries greatly appreciate the faithfulness of Southern Baptists to North American Missions through this year’s record Annie Armstrong Easter Offering of $58.5 million. Southern Baptists have observed our agency during this challenging time, and they have responded to our transparency and commitment to accountability with their generosity. We believe 2007 will be an exciting year as we continue to partner with Southern Baptists to reach North America for Christ.
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