JONESBORO, Ga. – Spending cuts instituted by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board over the past three years have the organization on sound financial footing, the organization’s chief operating officer said Tuesday.
David Melber, speaking to nearly 1,000 messengers gathered in Jonesboro for the annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention, said the Mission Board has been working to bring spending patterns in line with receipts.
The Mission Board had taken several cost-saving steps since early 2019, including eliminating more than 80 staff positions, selling properties that had become an unaffordable financial burden, instituting pay cuts for employees, and ending a number of benefits for employees.
“We are committed to operating within our means,” said W. Thomas Hammond, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “We are also committed to leading your Mission Board with complete transparency and integrity.”
Hammond said the spending reductions were unavoidable.
“We are compelled to make extremely difficult decisions,” he said. “We are not bad people doing wicked things. We are responsible people making difficult decisions.”
Hammond said he wants Georgia Baptists to understand that when he makes difficult decisions, he doesn’t do so because he wants to, but because he has to.
“There is a huge difference between the two,” he said.
Despite a lingering global pandemic and rising inflation, Georgia Baptist messengers voted without opposition to allocate nearly $37 million to spread the gospel in their state, nation and world over the next year.
“This reflects what we’ve always known, that Georgia Baptists are serious about making sure the good news reaches every corner of the globe,” Melber said. “Our people truly understand just how desperately the world needs Jesus.”
Messengers to the Georgia Baptist Convention affirmed the 2022 budget at their annual meeting in Jonesboro on Tuesday, allocating $36,699,980 for state, national and international missions.
“While that total is significant, it is 3 percent below the current year’s budget,” Melber said. “We’re projecting slightly lower receipts in the coming year because many of our churches are continuing to deal with the impacts of this pandemic and with inflation that is raising the prices on just about everything they buy.”
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s budget allocates $7,400,178 to the International Mission Board from the Cooperative Program. And the North American Mission would receive an additional $3,345,567 from Georgia’s Cooperative Program gifts.
The budget also allocates $7.2 million to the Georgia Baptist Mission Board to strengthen in-state churches and their pastors.
“The state Mission Board runs on two primary rails, Church Strengthening and Pastor Wellness,” Melber said. “Church Strengthening is budgeted to receive $5,512,007, and Pastor Wellness is budgeted to receive $1,759,911. We anticipate the sale of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s office building in Duluth will be completed in 2022, which will mean a significant reduction in operating costs. That will free up funds used for maintenance and upkeep to be used in sharing the gospel in our state, our nation and around the world.”
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