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State convention 2022 budgets reflect economic realities, cautious optimism

Messengers to Baptist state conventions gathered in person for their annual meetings this fall, after an unusual 2020 season of canceled or virtual meetings because of COVID restrictions. Each year, these messengers hear ministry reports, celebrate accomplishments and conduct business, including the priority of setting a state convention budget for the next fiscal year.

This report is a snapshot look at the 2022 budgets of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the five contiguous state conventions.

A recent Lifeway Research report indicated that, after facing budget shortfalls and decreased giving in 2020, 70% of churches now report that offering levels have met their budget this year and that giving levels in 2021 have so far matched or exceeded 2020 receipts.

‘A mixed bag’

Does this good news from churches translate into good news for state conventions? Of the six state conventions studied, the answer is a mixed bag. During the recent state convention annual meetings, three state conventions decreased their 2022 budgets from this year (Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana); two state conventions increased their budgets (Florida and Mississippi); and one state convention budget remained unchanged (Tennessee).

Last year, with pandemic concerns on the minds of all denominational leaders, three of these six state conventions adopted decreased budgets for 2021 from the previous year’s budget, and three state conventions left their budgets unchanged from the previous year. None of the 2021 budgets increased.

Increases and decreases in state conventions’ 2022 budgets were fairly modest, with increases ranging from 2.3% to 6% and decreases ranging from 1.3% to 5.5%, reflecting economic realities and, at the same time, a seeming cautiously optimistic financial perspective. Of the six state conventions, only Tennessee is at the same level as the 2020 budget; all others have yet to reach 2020 levels.

A closer look 

Alabama (decrease)
Messengers to Alabama Baptists’ 2021 annual meeting approved a $37 million Cooperative Program budget for 2022 on Nov. 17. The budget — which is $500,000, or 1.3%, below 2019, 2020 and 2021 — will continue to be divided 50/50 between the Southern Baptist Convention and Alabama Baptist missions and ministries, according to Rick Lance, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions executive director. Alabama’s budget has remained relatively consistent after a few significant adjustments following the record $46 million in 2009.

Florida (increase)
Messengers to the 2021 Florida Baptist Convention annual meeting approved a 2022 Cooperative Program budget of $29.15 million to be distributed 51% to SBC causes and 49% to FBC causes. The 51/49 split is the same distribution Florida Baptists have approved since 2016, the first budget recommendation after Tommy Green became executive director-treasurer in 2015. Florida’s 2022 budget is an increase of $650,000, or 2.3%, over the 2021 budget of $28.5 million. Florida Baptists’ 2021 budget represented a 5% decrease from the 2020 budget of $30 million. The record high budget for Florida Baptists was in 2008 with $41 million.

Georgia (decrease)
Nearly 1,000 messengers who gathered in Jonesboro, Georgia, Nov. 8–9 for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board annual meeting approved a 2022 budget of $36,699,980 — allocating $7.2 million to strengthen in-state churches and pastors, $7,400,178 to the International Mission Board and $3,345,567 to the North American Mission Board. The budget represents a 3% decrease from the 2021 budget of $37.835 million because the GBMB is “projecting slightly lower receipts” in 2022, said David Melber, GBMB chief operating officer, The Christian Index reported. The 2021 budget was a 6% decrease from the 2020 budget of $40.25 million. Georgia’s budgets have fluctuated annually since its record budget of $53.3 million in 2008.

Louisiana (decrease)
Louisiana Baptist messengers, meeting Nov. 16, approved a 2022 budget of $17,626136, a decrease of $1,027,564, or 5.5% from the 2020 and 2021 budgets of $18,653,700. Louisiana Baptists experienced seven straight years of budget declines going into the pandemic year of 2020. The budget for 2013 was $21,627,235, with decreases each year until the flat budget for 2021 was approved. Louisiana Baptists allocate 63.26% for in-state ministries and 36.74% for SBC causes.

Mississippi (increase)
Messengers to the 2021 Mississippi Baptist Convention annual meeting Oct. 26–27 approved a budget of $30,231,786 for 2022 that reflects a 6% increase over the 2021 budget and contains a 1 percent increase in the amount sent to the SBC. Mississippi’s 2021 budget of $28,510,346 was a decrease of 8.25% from the state’s 2020 budget of $31,073,945. The 2022 budget designates 61% for state causes and 39% for SBC causes. In October 2020 Mississippi Baptists sent a surprise gift of $1 million to the International Mission Board because the convention significantly underspent its budget.

Tennessee (unchanged)
Messengers to the Tennessee Baptist annual meeting Nov. 14–17 approved a 2022 budget of $35 million, the same as the 2020 and 2021 budgets. The portion of the budget allocated to the SBC will remain at 47.5%, with 52.5% earmarked for Tennessee ministries, the same as 2021. Tennessee’s record-high budget of $39 million occurred in 2009, which was followed by a decade of gradual decreases.

See each state below:

Alabama
2021 — $37.5M
2022 — $37M

Florida
2021 — $28.5M
2022 — $29.15M

Georgia
2021 — $37.835M
2022 — $36.7M

Louisiana
2021 — $18.7M
2022 — $17.6M

Mississippi
2021 — $28.5M
2022 — $30.2M

Tennessee
2021 — $35M
2022 — $35M

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