By Baptist Press
NASHVILLE — Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page has personally signed letters to more than 4,400 Southern Baptist churches that have met or exceeded the 1% Cooperative Program Challenge.
Recognized for their contributions are 3,846 congregations that met the challenge for the first time during the 2013-14 fiscal year (Oct. 1 – Sept. 30) and 576 that met the challenge for two consecutive years, said Ashley Clayton, SBC Executive Committee vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship development.
The 1% CP Challenge calls on churches to increase their Cooperative Program giving by at least 1 percentage point of their budgets from undesignated gifts by their members and visitors. CP gifts undergird both the work of the state Baptist conventions and the SBC’s national and international missions and ministries.
One of the Five Objectives embraced by the Tennessee Baptist Convention churches seeks to realize an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024.
The letters seek to express the “heartfelt gratitude on the part of every international missionary, every church planter in North America and Canada, every person in need or at risk from natural disaster, every seminary student, every plateaued or struggling church, and so many other people who are impacted,” Page told Baptist Press.
The month-long Cooperative Program emphasis spurs churches to learn about the Cooperative Program and prayerfully consider increasing their contributions.
If every Southern Baptist church embraces the 1% CP Challenge, annual Cooperative Program giving would increase by nearly $100 million, Page said.
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC with a single monthly or weekly contribution. Gifts from state conventions and fellowships as well as churches and individuals are distributed according to the annual Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
Clayton said the increased giving will help many Southern Baptist outreaches.
“Assuming this trend continues through the fiscal year end, that 1.13 percent increase represents almost $3 million dollars more for SBC missions and ministries fueled by the Cooperative Program,” Clayton said. “This is good news for Southern Baptists.”
Clayton also noted that missions contributions across the board are up over last year, including CP, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
The announcement of the churches response to the CP challenge follows an action taken by the Executive Board at their September meeting.
In response to the International Mission Board’s announcement of a personnel reduction, the Executive Committee adopted a resolution urging Southern Baptist churches to give “more than ever before” through the Cooperative Program.
The resolution, which was adopted without opposition, stated, “At this urgent hour of desperate need in our nation and around the world, we, the members of the SBC Executive Committee, pledge to encourage and lead our churches to give more than ever before through the Cooperative Program in 2015 and beyond. We also call upon all cooperating Southern Baptist churches prayerfully to join us in doing more than ever before.”
The IMB had announced previously that it would reduce its total number of missionaries and staff by 600-800 in light of expenditures that exceeded revenues by $210 million over the past six years