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Dollar's fall hits IMB missions hard


RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — International Mission Board finance officials project Southern Baptists will need to meet their $165 million goal for the 2007 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions just to sustain ministry budgets funded by last year’s record $150 million offering.

Southern Baptists topped the 2006 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal of $150 million by nearly $200,000, delivering the largest gift in the offering’s 118-year history. It also marked an 8.9 percent increase over the 2005 offering of $137.9 million. The 2006 offering has funded more than half the International Mission Board’s total budget of $288.9 million for 2007. Ongoing Southern Baptist missions giving through the Cooperative Program is paying for much of the remainder.

Not every missionary budget has been hit that hard. Also, IMB missionaries receive periodic cost-of-living increases (or decreases), depending on general inflation and the dollar’s value in the countries where they serve. But the weakness of the dollar is being felt to one degree or another worldwide.

Cost-of-living adjustments for missionaries are calculated based on the changing dollar cost of a typical “market basket of goods and services” – i.e., basic family living expenses. During the first 10 months of 2007, said Gary Stevens, leader of the IMB Financial Support Group, overall cost-of-living increases for missionaries increased nearly $1.8 million to $15.5 million – a jump of 13 percent over the same period last year.