Southern Baptists See Slip In Donations to Cooperative Program

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‘Tight’ economy, churches’ direct giving blamed
Even God’s work isn’t immune from the country’s current economic woes.

The Southern Baptist Convention announced this week that giving to its Cooperative Program — a major funding source for mission programs and seminaries — is down 7.1 percent for the first quarter of the fiscal year.
Halfway through the fiscal year, the denomination’s executive committee collected $44.3 million, down more than $3.3 million from the same point last year.
The drop in donations also may signal a change in giving patterns, with churches wanting more direct control of where their money goes. Either way, officials with the 16.1 million-member denomination are hopeful that giving will rebound by the end of the fiscal year.
“We had a big dip in October and then made up some ground in November,” said Sing Oldham, vice president for convention relations. “We made up more ground in December.”
Southern Baptist churches give money to their state conventions, which then pass the money on to the executive committee offices in Nashville. That money is then sent out to Baptist entities such as mission boards and seminaries.
Giving is down in 33 of 42 state conventions, according to a report published on the denomination’s website. The Tennessee Baptist Convention was down 8 percent from last year, while the Baptist General Convention of Texas was down 27 percent, it said.
The Rev. Randy Davis, executive director-treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, said churches aren’t immune from economic hard times.
“The economy is still very tight,” he said. “Normally, the giving at churches will lag behind.”
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SOURCE: The Tennessean
Bob Smietana