Compiled by B&R Staff
The good news is that the offering reached its fourth highest total ever, closing at approximately $153 million, according to data released June 7 by the IMB.
The bad news is that the amount was down by more than $12.8 million or 7.7 percent from last year’s record total of $165,815,541 that was collected amid news that the IMB was reducing its missionary and stateside personnel due to financial challenges.
The exact 2016 total, which was released to Baptist Press, is $152,982,560. The amount approached the offering’s $155 million goal and is approximately equal to the IMB’s 2017 budget projection of $153.5 million.
Every dollar given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) supports nearly 3,600 Southern Baptist personnel on the mission field, who are sent by their local churches to evangelize, disciple, plant and multiply healthy churches, and train leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.
“As we consider billions of people who have yet to hear the gospel, we as Southern Baptists realize the best way we can play our part in fulfilling the Great Commission is through cooperative effort in praying, giving, going, and sending,” said IMB President David Platt.
“Thank you, Southern Baptists, for giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to support a growing mission force working to make disciples and multiply churches around the world. Through the generosity of every single Southern Baptist who gave, the grace of God is resounding to the glory of God among more and more people and peoples.”
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director/treasurer of national WMU which promotes the offering in partnership with IMB, expressed her gratitude for the gifts.
“It is amazing to realize that since 1888, Southern Baptists have given nearly $4.4 billion” to the LMCO, Wisdom-Martin said. “We are grateful for the countless churches that continue to keep missions as a priority.”
Tennessee Baptists gave $11,579,335 to the 2016 offering which in Tennessee is collected from December through the following November, according to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board accounting office.
Through May 31, Tennessee Baptists have given 9,452,168 for the 2017 offering. By comparison, from December of 2015 through May of 2016, Tennessee Baptists gave $10,673,714.
The 2016-17 campaign total follows usual trends for the annual offering, according to IMB Treasurer Rodney Freeman.
“Based on our receipts of $153 million and looking at receipt trends over the last three years, the 2016-17 campaign total is in line with the campaign totals for 2014-15 ($153 million), 2013-14 ($154.1 million) and 2012-13 ($149 million),” Freeman reported to trustees.
“Our goal for the campaign was $155 million based on projected need and wise stewardship of Southern Baptists’ gifts. We see last year’s LMCO total as an exceptional response from Southern Baptists in light of past financial challenges, but not as the beginning of a new trend. We are thankful for churches’ faithful and consistent generosity in support of their missions personnel,” he said.
The LMCO campaign year — which historically has run from June 1 to May 31 each year — does not align with IMB’s fiscal year, which runs Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. To help alleviate confusion, IMB finance leaders, in conjunction with the board of trustees, have proposed to align the fiscal year and the LMCO campaign to Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Messengers will vote on the proposal during the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.
— This article includes reporting by Julie McGowan of the IMB, David Roach of Baptist Press, and Lonnie Wilkey of the Baptist and Reflector.