Ky. board: Cooperative Program 'essential'
The resolution was approved without opposition during the mission board's annual spring meeting, May 3-4 at Cedarmore Conference Center in Shelby County. The Cooperative Program is the channel that Southern Baptists use to fund missions causes at the state, national and international levels.
During the opening session on Monday, Kentucky Baptist Convention President Don Mathis cautioned board members to be wary of "any effort to place the Cooperative Program in a group of missions giving."
"My opinion is that it will be the destruction of the Cooperative Program, and when the Cooperative Program is destroyed, it will remove the effectiveness of our special giving because CP is the foundation of what we do," said Mathis, staff evangelist at Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green.
Following the Monday sessions, a subcommittee of the board's administrative committee met to develop a "Resolution of Reaffirmation of the Cooperative Program" and present it during the board's final session on Tuesday. The resolution was adopted on a show-of-hands vote without opposition, additional discussion or amendments.
"This was to say to Kentucky Baptists, 'please don't get off track with the Cooperative Program,'" Mathis said. "As the resolution says, we don't want to do anything that would lead us back to societal giving."
Mathis acknowledged on Monday morning that his comments were based on the task force's draft report released originally in February. Following the release of the final report, however, Mathis noted that he would "still prefer an even stronger statement of the Cooperative Program as being foundational to the way we support missions around the world."
Mathis challenged Kentucky Baptists on Monday to a "Cooperative Program Resurgence," asking for all KBC churches to increase their CP giving.
"Indeed the problem is spiritual," he said. "When revival comes, it affects the checkbook. We don't need to be arguing over the pie, we need a bigger pie."
Mathis' challenge was reflected in the approved resolution, which calls for Kentucky Baptists to "recommit ourselves to leading our churches to wholehearted and increased support of the Cooperative Program."
Kentucky Baptists are further challenged in the resolution to give a percentage of their church's undesignated receipts through CP and to educate their members about the value of cooperative missions and ministry.
"I believe we need to give more and do more, but I don't believe CP needs to be tinkered with," Mathis said. "The message [to Kentucky Baptists] is to give a percentage and to give more. The very best solution is to increase money available for missions."
Kristie M. Randolph is a marketing & media relations associate with the Kentucky Baptist Convention's communication office.
The full text of the Kentucky Baptist Mission Board follows:
Resolution of Reaffirmation of the Cooperative Program
WHEREAS, we believe that God providentially led Southern Baptists in 1925 to create the Cooperative Program as its funding methodology to support a wide array of Great Commission ministries and missions; and
WHEREAS, the genius of the Cooperative Program has been its broad scope of funding for worthy Baptist causes regardless of emotional appeal via a strategic partnership between the state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention; and
WHEREAS, the Cooperative Program moved Southern Baptists away from a societal approach in order to bring more stability in funding these missions and ministry endeavors and to reduce the constant appeals to churches for support; and
WHEREAS, Kentucky Baptists are rightly proud of the Kentucky origins of this cooperative effort which was modeled after a unified giving plan first developed by H. Boyce Taylor in 1900 and used at the First Baptist Church of Murray, Kentucky; and
WHEREAS, in 1915 the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky (now the Kentucky Baptist Convention) met at Jellico, Tennessee, and adopted a budget plan for the support of all denominational projects throughout the state and convention; and
WHEREAS, while we gratefully acknowledge the tremendous generosity of Baptists in faithfully giving through the Cooperative Program, we also acknowledge, with regret, the growing trend away from faithful support of this funding instrument as demonstrated in consistent decreases in the percentage of undesignated gifts going from the churches to missions through the Cooperative Program;
THEREFORE, BE IT NOW RESOLVED that we recommit ourselves to leading our churches to wholehearted and increased support of the Cooperative Program through the giving of a percentage of undesignated receipts, and through the education of our members, especially the children and youth, as to the wisdom and value of the Cooperative Program; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, as Kentucky Baptists, dedicate ourselves to finding the resources to reinforce the Cooperative Program as the essential avenue of support for missions and ministries; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we give our best efforts to raise up, train, and elect leaders who strongly demonstrate a sacrificial commitment to the Cooperative Program (cf. Mark 12:41-44).