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Tammi Reed Ledbetter - Southern Baptist TEXAN

NASHVILLE, TN (BP) — Michigan Baptists are among twenty-three state conventions that voted to increase the portion of Cooperative Program receipts being forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries in the coming year, continuing a trend inspired by passage of the Great Commission Task Force recommendations five years ago. The Baptist State Convention of Michigan will increase CP giving by 1 percent in 2016.


This year, Florida Baptists made the largest shift, moving from 41 to 51 percent allocated to SBC causes. "This epic, pacesetting decision will set a precedent in the Southern Baptist Convention," said Michael Tatem, president of Florida's State Board of Missions. "We are doing what the Southern Baptist Convention was called to do in 1845 -- to take the Gospel to the nations."


Iowa Baptists celebrated an 11 percent increase in giving to the Cooperative Program after messengers voted last year to boost the SBC portion from 20 to 50 percent, while Nevada Baptists reported a 13 percent increase after moving from 35 to 50 percent for SBC causes last year. "Several Iowa churches have significantly increased their financial support to missions through the Cooperative Program," Tim Lubinus, Baptist Convention of Iowa's executive director/treasurer, said. "I think it is likely that our decision last year to increase our giving to the Executive Committee from 20 percent to 50 percent provided us with momentum and incentive to give through the Cooperative Program."


In addition to Florida, other state conventions voting to increase by more than 1 percent the portion of their budgets sent beyond their borders include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland-Delaware, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah-Idaho. Meanwhile, state conventions in Arkansas, California, Dakotas, Kansas-Nebraska, Mississippi, New England, New Mexico, Northwest, Pennsylvania-South Jersey and West Virginia voted to increase the SBC portion in amounts ranging from .005 to 1 percent.The four conventions that forward half or more to the SBC without a "shared ministries" calculation are Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (55/45), Florida (51/49), Iowa (50/50) and Nevada (50/50). State conventions in Florida and New England quit designating any items providing dual benefit to the state and national convention. While 15 state conventions continue to use the classification, five reduced the portion designated as shared.


The actual dollar amount of a state convention's allocation fluctuates annually depending on how well cooperating churches in the state are able to fund their respective budgets. On the positive side, more than 4,400 Southern Baptist churches met or exceeded the 1% CP Challenge last year, increasing their CP giving by at least 1 percentage point of their budgets from undesignated gifts by their members and visitors. The total undesignated CP receipts received by the state conventions are projected to decrease by $5 million as total giving to churches remains in decline, and yet, with more than half of the state conventions increasing the SBC portion, the national allocation is likely to increase by more than $5 million.


Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.

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