Ga. Baptist missions-ministry center now debt-free

by Staff/Georgia Christian Index, posted Tuesday, March 10, 2015 (3 years ago)

DULUTH, Ga. (BP) -- The debt on the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center has been paid in full by a $25 million gift from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation.

The announcement of the gift, which relieves the convention of an annual $1.6 million debt obligation, was made during the GBC Executive Committee's March 10 meeting at the Atlanta-area center in Duluth, which opened in September 2006.

J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, rejoices over a $25 million gift from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation to pay off the debt on the state's Baptist Missions and Ministry Center. The gift relieves the convention of an annual $1.6 million debt obligation.
Photo by Joe Westbury/Christian Index
The Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation (GBHCMF) began making grants in 2005 utilizing $125 million in proceeds from the sale of hospitals and physical assets of the former Georgia Baptist Health Care System.

"It still seems surreal," J. Robert White, executive director of the state convention, said of the "incredible joy" of the foundation's gift.

"This is something that God has done. From the earliest decisions made [by the health care system's board], on our knees in prayer, to transition from a hospital system to a health care ministry foundation, God knew that not only would these investment funds be used to give over $36 million in grants thus far, but also that these funds would pay the Missions and Ministry Center debt in full.

"We had a plan to pay the debt and we were faithful to that plan, but God had a better plan," White said. "The payment of the convention's debt creates all kinds of mental energy as we contemplate how this will bless our ministry for years to come."

White voiced gratitude to Will Bacon, the foundation's president, as well as Rex Mobley, GBHCMF vice president and chief operating officer, and Tom Duvall, the convention's attorney, "who demonstrated from the beginning their enthusiastic commitment to make it happen."

The foundation has made grants to an array of health care initiatives in Georgia, including 34 grants of $10,000 to $125,000 in 2014, ranging from a mobile ultrasound for the Columbus Baptist Association to medical and dental services of the Appalachee Baptist Association.

Bacon presented the idea of a gift to retire the Georgia convention facility's debt to the GBHCMF board of directors during their Jan. 15 meeting, receiving unanimous approval.

"I think it is the right time for an unconditional gift to the GBC," Bacon said, according to The Christian Index report on the gift March 10. "This generosity will give them the freedom to reassess, in order to quickly unfetter their ministry and move all of us to a much needed revival."

Bacon said Frank Upchurch, the GBHCMF's former president, "and our staff had many conversations about the subject. ... I think our well-executed assistance can be a major impetus for the revival that can sweep through the halls of this building and into the GBC churches these state missionaries serve so well."

"Frank Upchurch understood that we would become a 'hospital without walls,'" Bacon said, noting that the Georgia convention "helped fulfill our mission as a hospital, a health care system and now a health care foundation" as a supporting organization of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Adapted from a report by J. Gerald Harris, editor of The Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
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