CARY, N.C. – The executive committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) board of directors gave its unanimous approval to a proposed Cooperative Program budget for 2023 totaling $29.5 million that would send more funds to global ministry partners while also allocating more dollars to N.C. Baptist ministries.
The proposal is $1.5 million more than the current $28 million budget, an increase of nearly 5.4%. The proposal also calls for a 3% increase in support of international missions, North American missions, theological education and more, which would bring N.C. Baptists’ support of global ministry partners to 48%.
An additional $350,000 would also go to support state convention ministries.
The approval came during a regularly scheduled meeting of the executive committee that took place on Tuesday, July 12, through a video conference call.
While acknowledging the current economic challenges related to rising U.S. inflation and issues within greater Baptist life that could impact giving, state convention officials called the proposal a God-sized goal for N.C. Baptists.
“We believe this is a good target for us in 2023,” said Rick Speas, pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., and chairman of the Budget Special Committee that worked to develop the proposal.
The measure will now go before the full board of directors for consideration in September. Following action by the board, the final proposal will be presented to messengers attending this year’s N.C. Baptist annual meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 7-8 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.
The executive committee also unanimously approved a separate “challenge budget” calling for any 2023 Cooperative Program funds that exceed $29.5 million to be equally divided between global ministry partners and state convention ministries.
The measure will also go before the full board for consideration and will be presented to messengers at the annual meeting.
Additionally, the executive committee unanimously approved a recommendation by the budget committee to increase the goal for the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) in 2023 to $2.5 million. The recommendation increases the NCMO goal by $400,000, which is 19% more than the previous goal of $2.1 million that had been established in recent years.
NCMO allocation would remain the same under the new goal, with 41% going to support the 19 different ministries of N.C. Baptists on Mission, 28% to church planting, 15% to mission camps, 10% to projects in local Baptist associations, and 6% to mobilization ministry projects.
The proposed NCMO goal will also be presented to the board of directors and then to messengers for consideration.
The budget proposal came on the heels of what state convention officials called an “encouraging” financial report.
Through the end of June, Cooperative Program receipts from N.C. Baptist churches totaled more than $13.7 million, which is about 2% or $291,000 behind budget and 1% or nearly $150,000 behind year-over-year giving.
John Butler, director of operations for the state convention, said it’s typical for giving from churches to lag a little behind during the summer months.
“I’m very encouraged at where we are at this point in the year,” Butler said.
Through June 30, N.C. Baptists’ giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering totaled more than $11.5 million. Giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions totaled more than $5.5 million. Giving to NCMO totaled more than $545,000.
Sexual abuse policy review update
N.C. Baptist Executive Director Todd Unzicker informed executive committee members that the state convention is working with subject matter experts on the review of sex abuse policies, procedures and materials that was proactively directed by the N.C. Baptist executive committee in November 2021.
Unzicker is scheduled to present findings and recommendations from the review to the board of directors in September and to messengers attending the annual meeting in November.
N.C. Baptist leaders have pulled together a number of sexual abuse resources to assist pastors, churches and associations. They are available at ncbaptist.org/abuse.
Additionally, Seth Brown, director of convention relations, said N.C. Baptist leaders are having initial conversations about working with state lawmakers on legislation that would increase liability protections for ministers, clergy and churches that disclose credible allegations of sexual abuse. At the May board meeting, the Christian Life and Public Affairs committee called on Unzicker and convention leaders to engage with state lawmakers on the issue.
Ultrasound machine placement
Brown also said that a new ultrasound machine has been delivered to a pregnancy resource center in Elizabeth City, N.C., following an extended delay due to shipping and supply chain issues. State convention officials worked with the Psalm 139 Project, a ministry of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, on placing two ultrasound machines in under-resourced areas of the state.
Earlier this year, a machine was dedicated at a pregnancy resource center in Franklin, N.C. Brown said officials are currently working on finding a date to hold a dedication event for the new machine in Elizabeth City, N.C.
In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Brown said N.C. Baptist officials are in discussions with representatives from the Psalm 139 Project about the possibility of placing more ultrasound machines in the state.
The decision in the Dobbs case overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the country. The Dobbs decision now gives individual states the authority to regulate abortion. While some states immediately enacted abortion bans following the Supreme Court’s ruling, abortion procodrues remain legal in other states, including North Carolina.
In addition to talks about future ultrasound placements, Brown said the state convention and Psalm 139 officials are in talks about long-term strategies that would focus on protecting life and ministering to those who may travel to North Carolina to receive an abortion.
“We want to determine the most effective ways to get tools and resources to the front lines,” Brown said.
The executive committee is scheduled to meet again on Aug. 23.