DALLAS—The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board approved a 2019 budget based on $1 million less than this year’s spending plan.
At the same meeting, the board learned about a $1 million designated grant from the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio to fund health initiatives for ministers and churches in South Texas. See the related story here.
The $33.25 million net Texas budget for 2019—which depends on Cooperative Program giving by churches and earnings from investments—compares to $34.25 million this year.
The 2019 budget relies on $28.35 million in Cooperative Program receipts from churches, compared to $29.6 million in the 2018 budget.
Jill Larsen, BGCT treasurer and chief financial officer, reported Texas Cooperative Program receipts through July 31 totaled $16.9 million, or 95.4 percent of year-to-date budget. Last year, receipts at the same time totaled just under $17.4 million, or 97.3 percent of budget.
The basic Texas budget anticipates $4.9 million in investment income next year, while this year’s budget projected $4.65 million.
In addition, the 2019 total budget includes more than $2.7 million in additional revenue from conference and booth fees, product sales, the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board and other sources. Including that additional revenue, next year’s operating budget totals $35,968,634, compared to this year’s $37,135,129 goal—a decrease of about $1.17 million.
The budget includes a 1 percent raise for BGCT Executive Board staff, the first salary increase in several years.
Board OKs $1 million for worldwide partnerships
The board also approved continued division of undesignated receipts from affiliated churches, with 79 percent allocated for the BGCT and 21 percent for worldwide causes. Each church determines the recipient or recipients of its worldwide giving.
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The board authorized $1 million for Texas worldwide missions partnerships and initiatives in 2019, down from $1,161,000 this year. It reflects across-the-board reductions in the eight funded areas—missions mobilization, River Ministry/Mexico missions, Texas Partnerships, Baptist World Alliance, intercultural international initiatives, Go Now Missions, Hispanic Education Task Force and chaplaincy.
Normally, the board approves a proposed budget at its September meeting, which then is considered by messengers to the BGCT annual meeting in the fall. However, the annual meeting was held this year as part of Texas Baptists Family Gathering in July.
In 2012, Texas Baptists amended the BGCT constitution to state, “The Executive Board will be responsible for budget adoption at its fall meeting in years when a summer annual meeting is held.”
The board allocated $256,000 of J.K. Wadley Mission Fund investment income to church starts and $100,000 to fund campus missionary interns.
Progress in church starting and missionary adoption
In his report to the board, Executive Director David Hardage noted some people had asked if the more than 600 house churches Texas Baptists have helped start are “real churches.” He reported those home-based congregations reported about 1,600 professions of faith in Christ.
“Sounds like real churches to me,” he said.
He also reported on progress in the Missionary Adoption Program, which creates partnerships between Texas-based churches and churches in a foreign country to support indigenous missionaries.
Since the BGCT began a partnership 18 months ago with Baptists in Brazil to send missionaries to unreached areas, Texas Baptist churches have provided ongoing sponsorship for 43 missionaries in the Amazon rain forest, Hardage said. BGCT leaders are in conversation with Baptist leaders in other countries about expanding the Missionary Adoption Program, he added.
‘Rich in diversity,’ united in mission
In his first address to the board as BGCT president, Michael Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, urged Texas Baptists to set a standard for unity based on a shared commitment to reach people for Christ.
“We find ourselves in the midst of a divided country,” he said. “We are living in a defining moment.”
Evans reminded Texas Baptists they are “rich in diversity,” worshipping in multiple languages in a variety of cultural contexts and ministering among an array of racial and ethnic groups.
“Are we there yet?” he asked, answering “no” and pointing to the challenge ahead.
“Old stereotypes have to die,” he said, emphasizing small-membership churches, congregations served by bivocational pastors, and various ethnic churches must be recognized as “full partners in the mission.”
God can use churches—Texas Baptist churches in particular—as “the adhesive” that holds people together “in the midst of a divided country and culture,” Evans said.
In other business, the BGCT Executive Board:
- Approved a recommendation to approve a restated certificate of formation with amendments that would allow the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to reduce the size of its board. The BGCT will continue to elect a majority of trustees to the UMHB board, and the amended document does not alter the relationship between the university and the convention. The Executive Board granted authorization pending approval of the UMHB board of trustees at its October meeting.
- Elected four members to the Christian Life Commission—Jacob West from First Baptist Church in Plainview, Chuck Gartman from First Baptist Church in Brownwood, Dwaina Six from Scotsdale Baptist Church in El Paso; and Bryant Lee from High Expectations Church in Humble.
- Approved Vickey Linn Thornton from Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi and David Koonce from First Baptist Church in Center to serve on the Committee on Nominations for Boards of Affiliated Ministries.
- Re-elected three trustees to the Baptist Standard board of directors—John Whitten from The Gathering at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, Taylor Sandlin from Sugar Land Baptist Church in Sugar Land and Jay Abernathy from First Baptist Church in Lubbock—and elected three new trustees to the board—Joe Fields from New Beginnings Baptist Church in Lewisville, Scott Jones from First Baptist Church in Rockport and Jana Pinson from Windsor Park Baptist Church in Corpus Christi.
- Approved five members to the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Council—Elaine Eiland from First Baptist Church in Midland, Steve Dalrymple from First Baptist Church in Amarillo, Alice Curtis from Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Michael Griffin from Park Cities Baptist Church and Carla Robinson from Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas.
- Elected four members to the Hispanic Education Initiative Council—Felipe Garza from Bill Harrod Memorial Baptist Church in Dallas, Ryan Jespersen from Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas, Pedro Lopez from Hunters Glen Baptist Church in Plano and Tina V. Cooper from Calvary Baptist Church in Corpus Christi.
- Approved three members to the Theological Education Council—John Hall from Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne, Van Christian from First Baptist Church in Comanche and Meredith Pinson-Creasey from South Main Baptist Church in Houston.
- Filled several vacancies on other councils, electing Larry Post from Sugar Land Baptist Church in Sugar Land and Stacy Leonard from First Baptist Church in Garland to the Institutional Audits Council, Joseph Adams from First Baptist Church in Hughes Springs to the Missions Funding Council, Hector Mendez from Iglesia Bautista Central in Fort Worth to the Cultural Engagement Council, Dylan Price from Woodway First Baptist Church of Waco to the Texas Baptist Historical Collection Council and C.V. Blake from First Baptist Church in Abilene to the BaptistWay Press Advisory Council.