Ala. proposed budget continues toward SBC parity

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP) -- Trustees of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions have unanimously voted to recommend a 2016 Cooperative Program budget of $40 million, with 53 percent funding state convention ministries and 47 percent going to Southern Baptist Convention ministries.

The SBOM's Aug. 14 budget recommendation reflects the Alabama convention's move toward "a point of parity or equitable distribution" of CP funds between Alabama and SBC missions and ministries, Rick Lance, SBOM executive director, told trustees.

The 2016 budget recommendation -- which also was unanimously affirmed by the SBOM's Executive Committee and Budget Advisory Subcommittee -- includes:

-- 53 percent, $21,208,238, for state convention ministries: SBOM Ministries ($11,172,660) and Alabama entity ministries ($10,035,578).

-- 47 percent, $18,791,762, for SBC ministries: SBC Executive Committee ($17,992,424 for the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget to SBC entities), GuideStone Financial Resources ($749,338 for retirement contributions for participating Alabama ministers and protection coverage for other participating church employees) and SBC CP Advance ($50,000).

Lance told trustees that the state convention budgeting is moving away from a "shared ministries" category because, for many people, the phrase doesn't communicate clearly concerning the allocation of Cooperative Program gifts from Alabama churches.

Still, for the 2014 and 2015 budgets, shared ministries was included as a category -- budget language that was acknowledged by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and periodically by SBC leaders during the 90-year history of the Cooperative Program.

Over the course of the next five years, Lance noted, "We're going to have an increased SBC allocation of at least 1 percent [of budget], assuming a $40 million base budget. Future CP increases will go to SBC until we reach that point of parity or equitable distribution. By that I mean if we raise the budget beyond $40 million, all of that's going to the SBC until we get to that point of parity."

Bobby DuBois, SBOM associate executive director and chief financial officer, noted the planned annual increase of 1 percent to the SBC is made possible because of decreases in the CP budget allocation to Samford University, initiated by its president, Andrew Westmoreland, to The Baptist Foundation of Alabama and to the SBOM.

From the 2015 budget to the 2016 budget recommendation, the allocation for the SBOM would decrease from $12,121,650 to $11,172,660. Alabama entity ministries would decrease from $10,754,630 to $10,035,578.

Among Alabama entity ministries are Samford University, University of Mobile, Judson College, The Alabama Baptist newspaper, Shocco Springs Conference Center, Alabama Baptist Children's Homes & Family Ministries, Alabama Woman's Missionary Union and Alabama Citizens Action Program.

Lance noted to trustees several points of CP celebration:

-- Alabama has been, and remains, a pacesetter among state conventions in dollars given through the Cooperative Program. Alabama is neither the largest nor wealthiest state numerically or economically, Lance said, but no one can question Alabama Baptists' heartbeat for missions support in giving through the Cooperative Program.

-- During the 2015 calendar year, Alabama Baptists will send approximately $31,000,000 to the two SBC mission boards -- more than $20,000,000 to IMB and more than $10,000,000 to NAMB. This does not include gifts sent directly from churches to the mission boards.

SBC leaders frequently note the loyalty of Alabama Baptists as SBC partners, Lance said, and that passion has not and will not change. Alabama Baptists partner with whomever they can in SBC life to support Great Commission ministries, he said.

-- Since 2012, Alabama Baptists have adopted budgets that increase the SBC allocation by an average of 1 percent annually. That trend will hopefully continue until the state convention reaches parity with the SBC, Lance said. All Alabama Baptist Convention entities/ministries have sacrificed to make that record possible.

-- The State Board of Missions staff has decreased in size from 121 to the current 73 full-time employees -- approximately 42 percent. By July 1, 2016, that number is expected to be 67 full-time employees, for an overall decrease of 45.5 percent.

-- The State Board of Missions staff has been granted two 2 percent salary increases since 2010 while the CP percentage for SBC causes has increased each year. No salary increase is anticipated for 2016.

The 2016 budget recommendation will go to a vote of state convention messengers Nov. 17 at Eastern Shore Baptist Church in Daphne.

Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston from reports by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and The Alabama Baptist newsjournal (www.thealabamabaptist.org).
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