CBF cuts budget amid shortfall

REVISED August 4, 2009 to delete incorrect CP information relating to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in paragraph 2.

HOUSTON (BP)--The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, at its 19th annual meeting in Houston July 2-3, approved a $16.1 million budget, which is $400,000 less than the previous year's budget, following a 20 percent shortfall in income.

"Financial support for CBF continues to be disappointing. The Southern Baptist Convention's income is down a few percent for the year ... but CBF national's income has been about 20 percent below the approved budget," Tony Cartledge, contributing editor of Baptists Today, wrote on his blog July 5.

"Participants approved a $16.1 million budget that's $400,000 less than the previous year, but officials noted that they'll continue operating on 80 percent of approved expenditures unless income improves. For CBF supporters, that's depressing," Cartledge, a former editor of the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina, wrote.

Cartledge, expressing personal reflections on the meeting, went on to lament the state of giving toward missions within the fellowship.

"On a related note, I continue to be troubled by the lack of support for missions through CBF," he wrote. "In the early years, folks really rallied behind the missions program, in part because they saw it as a preferred alternate to the SBC's International Mission Board, which had switched to a less holistic strategy that focused almost entirely on direct evangelism and church planting.

"In recent years, however, it's been all CBF could do to support missionaries already on the field: almost all new appointees are either self-supporting or raise their own support directly," Cartledge wrote. "That was true of all six personnel appointed this year."

Attendance at the Houston meeting was just over 1,600 registered participants, down from 2,050 at last year's meeting in Memphis. Cartledge attributed that to the holiday weekend and said attendance will double next year when the meeting is in North Carolina, which he said "clearly has the strongest state CBF organization."

This year's gathering, with the theme "Embrace the World: Welcome to your neighborhood," kicked off with a missionary appointment service July 1 in which six people were commissioned to full-time missions service, including ministry to "homeless people in North Carolina, poverty-stricken children in Miami, churches and suffering people in China."

During the general assembly, the CBF signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japan Baptist Convention, committing to a three-year partnership in which the fellowship and the convention will "coordinate their efforts related to church planting, faith sharing and education ministries," a news release said. The CBF intends to send short-term missions volunteers with a primary ministry of teaching English in local churches.

Also during the general assembly, participants gave nearly $10,000 to the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Offering for Religious Liberty and Human Rights, one-third of which is used by the Baptist World Alliance and two-thirds is used for CBF-sponsored ministries.

The CBF this year has designated a portion of the Carter offering to support the ministry of two missionaries who work with women church planters in the Middle East. Through their work, more than 130 women have been formally trained as indigenous church planters.

Each Middle Eastern woman who will receive funds from the Carter offering, the news release said, "has already planted at least three churches and is actively leading them, as well as actively witnessing and tithing."

Elected as new CBF officers: Christy McMillin-Goodwin, associate minister for education and missions at Oakland Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C., moderator-elect, and Joanne Carr, a member of First Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., recorder.

CBF moderator Jack Glasgow, pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon, N.C., begins a year of service as immediate past moderator, and Hal Bass, a professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, assumes the role of CBF moderator.

Daniel Vestal, the CBF's executive coordinator, said in his report that common values, love of freedom, community and participation in God's mission are what hold the fellowship together.

"This fellowship is a work of God's grace," Vestal said. "And as we approach a milestone, our very existence is a testimony to providence. Our birth was a miracle.

"Our survival amidst brutal and sustained attacks is amazing," Vestal said. "Our growth and influence within the Baptist family and the broader Christian community is humbling. The resources that God's people have entrusted to us is at times overwhelming."

In an annual tradition, participants at the CBF meeting took communion together, this year served by college students.

Among the 30-plus ministry workshops during the assembly, a Bible study on the Good Samaritan was led by Dorisanne Cooper, pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.

Other workshops dealt with how Baptists should relate to Muslims; embracing the realities of climate change; responding to the poor, hungry and neglected; women as vital congregational ministers; and how churches can work with people of other faiths to address social ills.

Next year's meeting will be June 24-25 in Charlotte.


Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

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