When messengers gather at Greensboro’s Koury Convention Center for the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) Nov. 9-11, they’ll be presented with a proposed budget for 2010 that’s 12 percent smaller than the current one. The current budget, optimistically approved back in 2007, calls for annual income of $39.2 million; the new one contracts to $34.8 million.
That should come at no surprise, because through the first eight months of the year, income for the BSCNC was already $4.26 million (16.6 percent) below budget, and 4.6 percent behind the previous year’s giving.
There’s no doubt that the troubled economy has played a role in the convention’s sliding income, but it’s certainly not the only factor – 2009 is the fifth year out of the past seven in which BSCNC income has fallen from the previous year.
That trend matches up with the accelerated exodus of moderates and even borderline folk from active roles in the BSCNC as the convention has adopted an increasingly harder line in relating to churches that are more comfortable supporting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) than the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Next year’s budget, which continues a five-year trend of increasing the SBC’s take of BSCNC income by half a percent each year, will be the first in nearly two decades to offer no option for supporting CBF instead of the SBC.
According to reporting by the Biblical Recorder, budget chair Steve Hardy explained the committee’s priorites to the BSCNC’s Board of Directors this way: “When people ask you about the budget I want you to say we are prioritizing three things: more money to our Southern Baptist ministry partners; evangelism and church planting.”
During the same meeting, BSCNC executive director Milton Hollifield reflected on ministry plans for 2010 by saying “This state convention could function without a relationship with the SBC. But we connect with, partner with the SBC entities because we are Southern Baptist churches. I’m pleased and proud of that relationship.”
Those statements should answer any and all questions about why churches who no longer feel at home in the SBC are also finding less reason to support the new BSCNC. It’s no wonder that BSCNC revenue is falling and church contributions through the missions resource plan of CBFNC have increased dramatically during the past year: the SBC-ification of the Baptist State Convention is complete.