Messengers to the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Nashville June 15–16 will be asked to consider an increased Cooperative Program allocation budget as well as make changes to the convention’s business and financial plan. These recommendations will come from the Executive Committee.
The proposed budget increase of $190 million is about a half step back toward the pre-pandemic 2019–20 budget of $196.5 million.
During a special called meeting in September, the Executive Committee adopted a $186.9 million CP budget for the 2020–2021 fiscal year after originally proposing a budget of $197.7 million. CP giving dropped during the pandemic, and since the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting was canceled, the responsibility of adopting the budget fell to the EC.
Executive Committee leaders are confident the proposed budget increase is manageable. CP giving has already rebounded some as the U.S. economy has bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic at a quicker pace than many experts expected.
As of May 31 gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the CP allocation budget totaled nearly $129 million for the 2020–21 fiscal year — 0.95% less than last year’s giving at this point but 3.44% ahead of year-to-date budget projections.
Faithfulness of giving
“The faithfulness of those giving to us came back very quickly,” Executive Committee chief financial officer Jeff Pearson said. “We want to build on that momentum. We believe that with the new budget that we’re presenting, being above where our budget was last year, we are starting the trajectory going back up.”
SBC Executive Committee president Ronnie Floyd agreed, noting Baptists have always been “faithful to step up its commitment through challenging times.”
Messengers also will consider a revised business and financial plan for SBC entities and the Executive Committee. Pearson said the amended business and financial plan messengers will consider creating more clarity, transparency and accountability among SBC entities and the Executive Committee.
The updated plan now includes:
- A preface
- Updated language
- A focus on the role of entity boards
- Entity confirmation to be submitted annually.
Responding to messengers
“We focused on the roles of the entity boards,” said Pearson, who assumed responsibility for overseeing the process in January 2021 after the retirement of his predecessor, Bill Townes. “We did that to honor the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention because the messengers are the ones who place those board members, and they place those board members out of their peers.”
The revised plan, which has received some push back from non SBC-level entity leaders, goes into further detail in four key areas of relationship among the Executive Committee, the convention and its entities:
- Stewardship development
- Financial integrity and accountability.
“We want messengers to feel confident that the funds that they are so graciously sending through the Cooperative Program and out to the entities are being managed in an accountable and transparent way.”