Published October 2, 2014
Georgia Baptist messengers will vote on a proposed 2015 budget of $40,400,000 when they gather in Macon for the annual meeting Nov. 10-11. The funding for missions in Georgia and beyond trims $1,400,000 from the current year and reflects budget levels not seen since 1998.
That decline followed last year’s flat budget from 2013 which showed neither a gain or a decrease from the previous year’s $41,800,000 budget. For the past two years the Convention has operated on budgets that reflected 2000 funding levels. The 2015 budget will be the first time the erosion of Cooperative Program giving has pushed the budget to levels not seen since the late 1990s.
Jack Lee, chairman of the CP Budget Committee, presented the report to Executive Committee members during their Sept. 16 meeting at the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center. Lee is pastor of Altamaha Baptist Church in Jesup.
Lee stressed that even in a time of declining Cooperative Program funding, the state convention continues to forward 52.63 percent of all gifts to the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville for distribution to missions worldwide.
The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report urged state conventions to move toward a 50/50 percent split but Georgia has operated at that level when SBC/GBC shared costs are included.
The lean budget holds salaries for state missionaries at their current level. Staff has received only one cost of living increase in the past six years. The budget provides a one-time, 1% bonus mid-year 2015 but only if funds are available, he added.
Funding from NAMB phasing out
Lee also explained that in an increasingly tight financial environment, the North American Mission Board will make its final payment of $300,000 to the state as part of the phased-out Cooperative Agreement. The state convention will absorb an additional $196,000 of the overall decrease.
The end of the historic understanding, by which the Alpharetta-based agency jointly funded missionary positions in Georgia, will free up church planting funds for other parts of the nation but will contribute to a permanent budget shortfall of slightly less than $1,000,000.
NAMB’s investment in Georgia missions peaked in recent years at about $900,000, much of which funded missionary positions in the state. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report called for the end of those agreements with the funds being shifted to areas of the nation with fewer resources for church planting.
The phase out of funding will require the state convention to find other means of funding those missionary positions or eliminate ministry personnel.
Lee stressed the need for Georgia Baptists to support the Mission Georgia offering for state missions, stating that their sacrificial giving to the state mission field is just as worthy as to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
In other business Executive Committee members agreed to reduce operations at the Norman Park conference center. The new schedule will see the facility operating at full capacity during the prime summer season but scaling down considerably during the winter season.
Only 30% of the center’s operating income comes from Georgia Baptists, he noted. The downsizing will conserve operating funds for the stronger months.
Executive Committee members also approved a recommendation choosing Augusta as the location of the 2022 convention annual meeting, which will celebrate the GBC’s 200th anniversary.
The recommendation stated convention meeting planners needed advance time to schedule the location “in order to secure a location for the 2022 Georgia Baptist Convention Annual Meeting near historic sites related to the establishment of the Convention (Kiokee Baptist Church, the first organized Georgia Baptist Church; and Powellton Baptist Church, location of the Powellton Conferences and the founding of the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1822) ...”
The proposed 2015 budget can be viewed online at www.christianindex.org as part of this story.
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