Economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic slows Cooperative Program giving

NASHVILLE (BP) — Gifts to the national Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for May 2020 were below budget by more than $1.5 million as the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact churches financially. The $14,802,344.02 given through the Cooperative Program was 16.08 percent less than the same month last year.

Nearly every church across the Southern Baptist Convention has been restricted in some form from meeting in person for worship by state and local policies on social distancing and limits on gatherings. These restrictions have negatively impacted giving in churches. National CP receipts in May dropped by $2,837,139.31 from the May 2019 total of $17,639,483.33.

“This is one moment where we must all come together to give through the Cooperative Program like never before,” said SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd in a statement. “This is what will result in Gospel advancement across our regions, our states, our nation, and the entire world. Our team here is monitoring our giving through the Cooperative Program daily. We are not surprised to see the reverberations of the COVID-19 global pandemic on Cooperative Program receipts. And while many of our churches are thriving financially, we know others are struggling.

“Churches in many of our states are slowly beginning to open up again. While we may also see this downward trend of giving through the Cooperative Program in the month ahead, we do anticipate that in the next three to four months we will see an upsurge in giving. That said, I really want to thank our churches for being faithful in forwarding their financial gifts through the Cooperative Program. This is the financial fuel that provides us the resources to take Good News to the whole world.

“I want to remind each of our churches: Your faithfulness in giving through the Cooperative Program is what will keep our missionaries on the mission fields here in America and across the world. This is our number one concern at this time. What each local church determines to give through the Cooperative Program every month makes this possible.”

As of May 31, gifts received by the EC for distribution through the CP Allocation Budget total $130,106,855.38. This is $3,718,745.23 or 2.78 percent less than last year’s budget contribution of $133,825,600.61. The amount given is slightly below the $131,000,000.00 year-to-date budgeted projection to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America by $893,144.62 or 0.68 percent.

The final amount received in May 2020 was $1,572,655.98 (9.6 percent) less than the monthly budgeted amount of $16,375,000.00.

Designated gifts received in May amounted to $13,266,133.00. This total was $4,720,433.18 or 26.24 percent below gifts of $17,986,566.18 received last May. Also, this year’s designated gifts through the first eight months of the fiscal year amount to $139,369,577.55, which is $7,735,205.91 or 5.26 percent less than the $147,104,783.46 given through same period in the previous fiscal year. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and other special gifts. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities.

The CP is Southern Baptists’ channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC through a unified giving plan to support both sets of ministries. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches and state conventions for distribution according to the 2019-2020 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.

State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.

The convention-adopted budget for 2019-2020 is $196.5 million and is disbursed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education through the six SBC seminaries and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. If national CP gifts exceed the $196.5 million budget projection at the end of the fiscal year, the Executive Committee’s portion of any overage falls to 0.0 percent while IMB’s portion increases to 53.4 percent of the overage. The other entities’ percentage distributions of the overage remain the same. The SBC Executive Committee distributes all CP and designated gifts it receives on a weekly basis to the SBC ministry entities.

Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the cooperating state Baptist conventions forward the national portion of Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.

CP allocation budget gifts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at sbc.net/cp.

This article was originally published by Baptist Press at bpnews.net

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