CP EMPHASIS: Diverse profiles reveal a common passion for cooperation
EDITOR'S NOTE: In recognition of the SBC's October emphasis on the Cooperative Program, Baptist Press will provide readers with extra news and information detailing the scope and depth of the Cooperative Program and its impact for the Kingdom. Using vignettes and profiles of churches and individuals, as well as historical and ongoing accounts, our intent is to explain the Cooperative Program not just as a funding channel but as one of the critical ties that bind Southern Baptists in voluntary fellowship for cooperative ministries and missions.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Whether a few decades old or spanning more than a century, these five churches know the importance of building a Great Commission legacy. Each testifies that putting love in action through the Cooperative Program is an investment in God's Kingdom for generations to come.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST BY CHOICE
On the Eastern seaboard where "nobody is Baptist by accident," Hockessin Baptist Church began when transplanted Southern Baptists moved to Hockessin, Del., for employment two decades ago. The church plant took root and grew, even as its Deep South founders moved elsewhere.
Vibrant with newcomers to faith in Christ, the church blends its East Coast personality with a strong Southern Baptist distinctive of missions giving through the Cooperative Program.
"We give because it is the hope in our church that a dollar given through the Cooperative Program is the most effective way to reach the world for Christ," pastor John Boulet said.
Hockessin Baptist Church's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 277; baptisms, 8; primary worship attendance, 238; undesignated receipts, $489,104; Cooperative Program, $77,920; CP percent, 15.9; total missions expenditures, $97,521.
A HIGHWAY TO THE WORLD
Living on scenic Highway 7 through the Ozark Mountains might seem a little like heaven, but when it comes to missions, First Baptist Church in Dover, Ark., is strictly down-to-earth. The growing church remembered a world in need of Christ during lean years when it could have focused on itself.
"Even through three large building projects when we could have used that money elsewhere, we never decreased our Cooperative Program giving," pastor Jeff Paxton said. "God has blessed the commitment we made to the Great Commission."
First Baptist' total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 637; baptisms, 25; primary worship attendance, 350; undesignated receipts, $522,900; Cooperative Program, $117,170; CP percent, 22.4; total missions expenditures, $181,790.
A RICH LEGACY & A MISSION FIELD NEXT DOOR
For one hundred years -- consecutively –- a member of First Baptist Church in Landrum, S.C., has represented Southern Baptists on the international mission field. The church's passion for missions is not surprising. Descendants of Bertha Smith, devoted Southern Baptist missionary to China, are counted among its members.
Today, with Iraqi refugees moving into the area, the mission field is as close as next door and their heritage of putting love in action through CP helps attune them to the opportunity.
"As pastor," Allen Andrew said, "I've focused on missions because of the church's rich history. But the church knows they must go beyond praying and giving to missions, to going, because the world is coming to their doorstep."
First Baptist's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 895; baptisms, 4; primary worship attendance, 236; undesignated receipts, $562,378; Cooperative Program, $112,476; CP percent, 20.0; total missions expenditures, $209,215.
A HERITAGE BORN OF HUMILITY
Heritage is important in Harrodsburg, Ky., the state's oldest city located in the "pretty as a postcard" Bluegrass region. At Bruner's Chapel Baptist Church, a humble congregation's heritage includes a longtime commitment to missions giving and a partnership with a Mediterranean village.
The church commits just under 23 percent of its offerings to reaching people around the world through the Cooperative Program and nearly a third of its budget to mission service.
"This church would never brag about their giving," pastor David Crowe said. "They have a passion to get the Gospel to all the world. The Cooperative Program provides one of the greatest ways to do that."
Bruner's Chapel total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 635; baptisms, 26; primary worship attendance, 210; undesignated receipts, $339,599; Cooperative Program, $77,068; CP percent, 22.7; total missions expenditures, $120,743.
A PRIVILEGE & A RESPONSIBILITY
In the small town of Kenedy in south Texas, First Baptist Church's youth basketball program regularly draws a crowd of 1,000. The program is helping the church reach its multi-ethnic community.
Winning Texas for Christ while reaching the world with the Gospel is why they participate in missions through the Cooperative Program.
"This church has a heart for ministry in the state of Texas," pastor John Wheat said. "They understand the privilege and responsibility they have of reaching the state through the Cooperative Program."
First Baptist's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,038; baptisms, not listed; primary worship attendance, 175; undesignated receipts, $481,526; Cooperative Program, $77,078; CP percent, 16.0; total missions expenditures, $132,695.
Marilyn Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.