PHOENIX (BP) — Through Southern Baptists’ “faithful, generous and consistent giving” of more than $98 million to the Cooperative Program and approximately $153 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the International Mission Board has reached financially stability, IMB President David Platt told the entity’s trustees June 12.
“That’s breathtaking: over $250 million given from Southern Baptist churches for the spread of the Gospel among the nations,” Platt said. “And as a result of that giving, I am glad to report to trustees and the broader SBC that IMB is standing on firm financial ground.”
In addition to the financial update, IMB trustees approved the appointment of 31 missionaries; recognized 10 trustees as they completed their terms; and elected 2017-2018 officers during their meeting held in conjunction with the June 13-14 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix.
“A couple of years ago, we said our goal was to work to get to a position of short-term financial responsibility and long-term organizational stability, and by God’s grace, we are there,” Platt reported.
“Now some might wonder, ‘The Lottie Moon Offering was less than last year, and even just under your Lottie Moon campaign goal … so will IMB have a deficit for the 2017 fiscal budget year?’ And the answer is, due to our current expenses also trending below our budget for the year, we do not anticipate an overall deficit for the fiscal year,” Platt said.
Trustees in their support services committee reviewed IMB’s 2016 audited financials and its current financial position, including the core principles in the organization’s financial management: to present a balanced budget each year; spend 100 percent of Lottie Moon receipts overseas every year; do not use proceeds from property sales for operations; and maintain IMB reserves at appropriate levels.
Committee chairman Seth Polk voiced gratitude “to hear that we are on strong financial footing … and [we] are really grateful to God for the trajectory that we’re on, and particularly for the faithfulness of Southern Baptists in giving and in making all these things possible….”
Platt confirmed in the trustees’ plenary session that every dollar Southern Baptists give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering “is going to the nations.”
With the mission board healthy financially, Platt said the stage is set for Southern Baptists to send more missionaries. “And so in the same moment that we thank Southern Baptists for their giving, in the next breath we exhort Southern Baptists to give all the more — generously and sacrificially in the days ahead.”
In that light, Platt shared the story of Madeline Ray, a 21-year-old woman who was given a Make-A-Wish Foundation “wish” as a teenager due to a medical condition related to hemorrhagic strokes. Madeline’s heart’s desire was to use her “wish” to make an eternal impact in taking the Gospel to an unreached people group.
So Madeline donated the funds for her wish to the International Mission Board. Platt shared a video about Madeline’s eternity-focused heart.
“This is what this meeting in Phoenix is about: It’s about followers of Christ and churches across our country who give an offering every week, saying, ‘We want to give for the spread of the Gospel to those who have never heard it,” Platt said. “[Madeline] could have another hemorrhaging stroke at any moment. She knows that any moment could be her last.
“To hear her saying, ‘I just want to use whatever moments I’ve got to make the Gospel known to people who have never heard it’ — may that spirit mark Southern Baptists. May that spirit drive everything we do in and through the IMB.”
New missionaries, officers
The 31 new missionaries approved by the trustees were appointed during a Sending Celebration June 13 during the evening session of the SBC annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Trustees recognized the service of outgoing trustee chairman Scott Harris, missions minister at Brentwood (Tennessee) Baptist Church, and nine other trustees completing their terms. Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was elected as trustee chairman for 2017-2018; Rick Dunbar, a member of First Baptist Church in Madison, Miss., was re-elected as first vice chair; Tim Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church in Clarksburg, Md., was re-elected as second vice chair; and Lisa Lovell, a member of First Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas, was elected as recording secretary.
The next IMB trustee meeting and Sending Celebration will be Sept. 12-13 in Ridgecrest, N.C., in conjunction with IMB’s celebration of emeriti personnel.