Alabama Baptists approved a $37 million Cooperative Program budget for 2023, maintaining the same structure as 2022, and continuing the 50/50 allocation of funds between Alabama Baptist missions and ministries and national efforts through the Southern Baptist Convention.
Gathering in their 199th session of the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 14–15 at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, messengers also heard plans to celebrate 200 years of cooperative ministry work, approved funds to help struggling retired pastors and wives through Mission:Dignity and honored ministry volunteers.
Regarding a lawsuit involving the financial challenges and closing of Judson College, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions executive director Rick Lance assured messengers SBOM attorneys are managing the situation well. He also noted legal fees would not involve any Cooperative Program dollars.
“There is no need for the convention to take any action whatsoever,” said Lance, noting SBOM is “in a wait and see” posture. “We will represent you well,” he noted. “This is something your State Board of Missions will handle on your behalf.”
With plans underway to celebrate 200 years of cooperative ministry in the state, Greg Corbin — chair of the Alabama Baptist Bicentennial Commemoration Task Force — shared plans for 2023. See full story here.
The first in a series of a monthly articles on the bicentennial appeared in the Nov. 17 issue of The Alabama Baptist. The bicentennial celebration will culminate at next year’s annual meeting at First Baptist Church Montgomery, Nov. 14–15, focusing on the theme “Unfinished.”
In other business, Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief strategist Mark Wakefield announced Cookie Baker as the recipient of this year’s Tommy Puckett Award. The award is presented annually to someone who contributes both practically and strategically to Alabama disaster relief efforts.
“It’s my ministry. It’s my heart. It’s what I do,” said Cookie Baker, who has been volunteering with ABDR since 2005. Baker is a member of First Baptist Church Glencoe. “I try to be available and as long as the Lord wants me, He will keep me healthy enough to go,” she said. “As long as the Lord leads me, I will go.”
This year’s recipient of the Missions Volunteer of the Year Award is Barbara Kay Edwards, a member of Shoal Creek Baptist Church, Deatsville, in Elmore County. Edwards was honored for her ministry work that has involved Elmore Baptist Association and women’s ministry and other efforts throughout the state and beyond. These efforts include everything from her role as the church ministries director for her association, serving on the board of directors for her county crisis pregnancy center, leading numerous women’s ministry events on a state and national level, missions trips to Guatemala and her work as a volunteer police chaplain in the river region.
“I’m so honored to receive this award,” said Edwards, who thanked her association and local churches “who understand that our ministry is not in that office, it’s outside those walls.”
Jay Stewart, director of the SBOM office of Cooperative Program and church financial resources, also presented these awards during the annual meeting:
- Largest gift given through CP — Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, led by Pastor George Wright, $1,034,986.65.
- Largest average gift per resident member given through the CP — Midway Baptist Church, led by Pastor David Stewart, $486.72.
- Largest percentage of undesignated receipts given through the CP — Mountain View Baptist Church in Cullman, led by Pastor Dale Banks, 36.7%.
In other business
—Messengers voted to accept the 2021 audit report for SBOM as prepared and printed by Jackson Thornton & Co., found on pages 24-32 in the 2022 Book of Reports.
—Messengers approved the special offering goals for 2023 — Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, $12 million; Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, $6 million; Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, $3 million; Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering, $1.2 million; Hunger Offering, $800,000.
—Messengers approved the SBOM’s participation in GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity with additional funds being designated for former Alabama Baptist pastors and ministry wives, who are receiving Mission:Dignity funds. SBOM has earmarked funds for this purpose. The amount of funds needed is approximately $110,000. This participation will be reviewed annually by the executive director of SBOM.