Messengers to the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, taking place June 15–16 in Nashville, 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 2019–2020 budget of $196.5 million.
During a special called meeting in September, the EC 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.
EC leaders are confident the proposed budget increase is manageable because CP giving has already rebounded to some degree as the U.S. economy has bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic at a quicker pace than many experts expected.
As of April 30, gifts received by the EC for distribution through the CP allocation budget totaled nearly $112 million for the 2020–2021 fiscal year — 3% less than last year’s giving at this point but 2.64% ahead of year-to-date budget projections.
Designated gifts through April are up 1.23% through the same period last year.
Messengers also will consider a revised business and financial plan for SBC entities and the EC.
EC chief financial officer Jeff Pearson said the amended business and financial plan messengers will consider focuses on creating more clarity, transparency and accountability among SBC entities and the EC.
The updated plan includes a preface, updated language, a focus on the role of entity boards and entity confirmation to be submitted annually.
“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.”
Pearson previously served as CFO of the fundraising and awareness arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, before coming to the Executive Committee.
The revised plan 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
EC president Ronnie Floyd said the new agreement will generate clearer communication among entities and the EC.
“We believe this recommended business and financial plan provides a greater clarity of understanding and encourages cooperation, transparency and accountability from each of the entities to the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “The annual entity confirmation alone represents the desired outcomes we have of each entity when they confirm in writing and for publication their adherence to this plan.”
Pearson added, “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.”
International Mission Board president Paul Chitwood said the updates to the business and financial plan “bring the content and language of this guiding document up to date, especially with regards to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles standards and industry best practices.”
“In doing so, the document will represent an even higher level of accountability that can be celebrated by every church giving through the Cooperative Program to get the gospel to our nation and every nation,” he added. (Baptist Press contributed)