Messengers to the 2023 Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting adopted the 2024 Cooperative Program budget and heard a variety of reports during the Nov. 14 afternoon session.
Mel Johnson, chair of the board of trustees for the State Board of Missions, presented the budget, which mirrors the previous year’s budget of $37 million. Alabama Baptists will continue a 50-50 allocation, with 50% of Cooperative Program gifts allocated to Southern Baptist Convention Great Commission ministries and 50% focused on state convention-related Great Commission missions and ministries.
Messengers also approved the following 2024 special offering goals:
- 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.
- World Hunger Offering: $800,000.
In other financial updates, Rick Lance, SBOM executive director, said Alabama Baptists have given $1,566,947,377.50 to the Cooperative Program since its inception in May 1925.
Lance noted that Alabama Baptists will continue to give Mission:Dignity recipients in Alabama two extra checks in 2024. Mission:Dignity honors retirement-age Southern Baptist ministers, workers and widows who are struggling to meet basic needs of housing, food and medications. Lance said the extra funds, known as 13th and 14th checks, are funded by interest income and amount to approximately $110,000.
Lance also noted the convention’s support for the Psalm 139 Project, a ministry of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission that helps provide ultrasound machines for pregnancy resource centers and training for employees and volunteers who will use them to help women in crisis.
During the SBOM report, ERLC president Brent Leatherwood presented Lance the ERLC’s Partner for Life award and thanked Alabama Baptists for their support.
Lance had four individuals share about Great Commission ministries and their “unfinished work” as part of his executive director’s report.
Steve Dunn, associational mission strategist for Bethlehem and Pine Barren associations, spoke about church revitalization and church health. He recommended the resources available at churchhealthal.org and empower.churchhealthal.org to all churches seeking to grow.
Harold F. Tisdale, church planter and pastor of Free Spirit Church in Florence, spoke about ministering to youth in a detention center in Colbert County.
“We give them Jesus, and their lives are changing,” Tisdale said. “They’re coming out [of detention], and our unfinished business is keeping these kids connected to Jesus.”
Jae McKee, an Alabama native who serves as director of missions and church planting for the Alaska Baptist Resource Network, spoke about Alabama Baptists’ partnership with Alaska, where 97% of residents are unchurched.
“One hundred villages in our state have no gospel opportunity week in and week out,” McKee said. “Our unfinished business is to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and in Alaska we are the ends of the earth.”
Matt Daniels, BCM campus minister at the University of North Alabama in Florence, spoke about the work happening in collegiate ministries throughout the state.
“God is at work on the college campuses,” Daniels said, as campus ministry leaders seek to see “lost students saved, saved students discipled and discipled students sent.”
Mark Wakefield, SBOM disaster relief strategist, presented the Tommy Puckett Award for Excellence to disaster relief chaplain Ben Hayes, pastor of First Baptist Church Dadeville. Hayes was recognized for his role in ministering to Dadeville following a shooting in which four young people were killed, several others injured and six were arrested.
“We are grateful that the Lord put you there and thankful for the job you did,” Wakefield said.
Scotty Goldman, director of the SBOM office of global missions, presented the Outstanding Missions Volunteer of the Year Award to Greg Vick, a member of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Enterprise.
Vick leads the church’s missions committee and has served in a number of local, national and global missions projects. Quoting Vick’s nominator, Aaron Rascoe, Goldman said Vick “exemplifies what it looks like to serve unselfishly.”
•Johnson reported that Crosscreek Baptist Church in Pelham has been deemed “no longer in likeminded fellowship and friendly cooperation” with the state convention following the church’s decision to call a woman as senior pastor earlier this year. Johnson said the Shelby Baptist Association had voted likewise following discussions between church and Alabama Baptist leaders. The church had withdrawn from fellowship with the SBC in 1999 but had remained affiliated with Shelby Association and ABSC.
•The 2022 auditor’s report for SBOM was approved by messengers, and Mike Jackson, SBOM associate executive director, shared reports from the audit and insurance committees. These committees review the financial statements and insurance policies of the SBOM and cooperating entities.
The audit committee helps ensure all are doing their due diligence in honoring their fiduciary responsibility to messengers, Jackson said. The insurance committee is tasked with looking over insurance policies to make sure the properties of the SBOM and other entities are properly insured.
•Messengers approved Ben Bowden, pastor of First Baptist Church Enterprise, to give the convention sermon in 2024. Peyton Hill, pastor of First Baptist Church Prattville, will be the alternate. Also approved was Eastmont Baptist Church in Montgomery for the location of the 2027 ABSC meeting, to be held Nov. 16–17, 2027.