EASTMAN — God is blessing the ministry of First Baptist Church of Eastman through the ministry of Pastor Jerry Peele. And through the generous giving of the congregation, the church is blessing the world. “This past year was the best financial year in the history of the church,” Peele commented.
Recently, the Eastman pastor came to Atlanta to see his new grandchild in Sandy Springs. In the process, he also stopped by the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center to give two checks totaling $110,241.50 to Toby Howell, vice-president of Finance, to be sent to the International Mission Board for missions around the world.
In a recent newsletter Peele reminded his church of the “challenge budget” the church approves each year. He wrote, “In case you missed it, allow me to remind you of the need to give faithfully and consistently to our church budget. In order to encourage members to support the budget and to give more to missions, the church adopted the 2016 Challenge Budget, which is money given above and beyond the regular budget.”
Peele added, “Last year (2015), we exceeded our budget goal by $62,864.” Those funds were appropriated to meet specific needs. In 2016 the church exceeded its budget by $85,799. It was predetermined that 60 percent would go to the International Missions, 30 percent to North American Missions, and 10 percent to the local Dodge Baptist Association.
More than a dollar
The amount from the “challenge budget” added to the amount given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions in December resulted in the large gift from the church to world missions.
Additional large checks will soon be written for both the North American Mission Board and the local association. In addition to these special missions gifts, the church also gives ten percent of their undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program.
Interestingly, all of the missions giving of First Baptist Church in Eastman is taking place in the midst of a $400,000 church renovation program.
Peele stated, “I believe the ‘challenge budget’ has actually inspired our people to give more. First Baptist is a missions-oriented church. They gave more to the budget last year because they have a missions focus and a heart for missions. In fact, they have taught me some things about missions I didn’t know.
“Every Sunday night we take up a $1 offering from those present and each month we promote something worthy of our people’s offering. Last month it was the Baptist Children’s Homes. Some months we will get two or three thousand dollars that we would not have received otherwise.
“The Bible says, ‘We have not, because we ask not.’ So, we ask; and the people give; and some people give more than a dollar.”
In June, Jerry Peele will have been the pastor at First Baptist Church for 24 years. He hopes the example of his church can be an inspiration to others.