DULUTH, Ga. – Squeezed by high inflation and declining Cooperative Program receipts, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board has been forced to make mid-year budget adjustments that include staff reductions.
Economic trends, coupled with discontent among some churches because of the Southern Baptist Convention’s handling of sexual abuse complaints and other hot-button issues, have led to a significant decline in financial receipts.
“Cooperative Program receipts have been trending downward for the past year, and a significant drop has occurred in the past three months,” said state Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. “More than 180 churches that were giving to the Cooperative Program last year have not given so far this year. Other churches have changed their allocations, and all of that that has had a negative impact on Cooperative Program receipts.”
Fourteen positions were eliminated. Some of them were already vacant.
“Such steps are never easy, but they are necessary due to the financial realities we’re facing,” Hammond said. “Even with these changes, we still have 64 full-time staff members, 30 part time, and approximately 20 contract workers who are all focused on encouraging pastors and resourcing churches to reach Georgia with the gospel. Our assignment has not changed.”
Mark Marshall, the state Mission Board’s assistant executive director, said, “our aim is to continue to do all we can to serve our churches and pastors well by shifting responsibilities and duties to existing staff and looking for creative options to grow the work of Baptists in Georgia.”
Cooperative Program receipts have declined in Georgia from a high of $49.5 million in 2007 to $35.8 million in 2021, an overall drop of $13.7 million.
“We had high hopes that 2022 would bring a much-needed rebound in Cooperative Program giving, but it simply hasn’t materialized,” Hammond said. “I know Georgia Baptists are committed to reaching the world for Christ, and the Cooperative Program is still the best way to fuel that work.”