South Carolina Baptists will give $1 million year-end gift to International Mission Board

The South Carolina Baptist Convention has pledged a $1 million year-end gift to the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention in a year when the missionary sending organization announced a reduction in its worldwide force due to budget shortfalls.

The IMB Web site reports that it will slowly reduce its number of missionaries from 5,600 in 2009 to 4,200 through normal attrition and limited appointments, “while using IMB’s reserves – including global property sales – to keep as many missionaries on the field as possible.”

That South Carolina Baptists have stepped up to serve international missions should come as no real surprise. The roots of international missions support run deep for Baptists in the oldest state convention within the Southern Baptist Convention.

It was in 1815 that Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend, of Edisto Island, sold baked goods to support the mission work of Edisto Island Baptist Church. She was the founder of the Edisto Female Mite Society, the first organization of its kind in the South and the organization responsible for raising funds for foreign missions. The first Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions in January 1889 raised $3,315 – one third of which came from members of South Carolina Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union.

Fast-forwarding to 2011, South Carolina Baptists approved new state budgeting measures through its Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) that gave special attention to supporting international missions through IMB. GCR allowed for IMB funding through normal Cooperative Giving channels but also provided a direct year-end gift to IMB from any state budget overages.

And, even with the state convention not meeting its budget in 2013 and 2014, the convention’s Executive Board reached into the state’s Fund Balance to provide that year-end gift to IMB. The 2014 gift was $400,000.

Speaking to the Executive Board at its final meeting of 2015 on Thursday, December 10 at the South Carolina Baptist Convention Building in Columbia, Marshall Blalock, chairman of the board’s Budget, Finance & Audit Committee said, “We won’t meet our convention budget this year, but projections show that we will be closer than we have been to our budget goal – close enough to send $450,000 from the budget rather than the Fund Balance.

“As our committee looked at that gift we unanimously decided to take an additional $550,000 from the Fund Balance and make a $1 million year-end gift to the International Mission Board,” he said. The decision was met with applause by the board.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, responded by saying, “My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy when I heard that South Carolina Baptists voted to approve a $1 million gift to the International Mission Board. This extremely generous gift will go a long way in helping the IMB get to a healthy financial place in the present so that we can move forward into a future marked by more missionaries sent, more disciples made, and more churches planted among unreached peoples than ever before. I praise God for the generosity of South Carolina Baptists and trust God will use these resources for gospel advance to the ends of the earth.”

Richard Harris, interim executive director-treasurer of the state convention, who has led staff this year in keeping missions mobilization as a priority of its work, said, “The giving of an additional one million dollars to the International Mission Board by our SCBC Executive Board speaks volumes about our commitment to fulfill the Great Commission.

“The smaller portion of the gift comes from the great management of the budget by state convention staff and generosity of SCBC churches to create a budget overage. The majority of the funds comes from reserve funds. This (year-end gift) is in addition to the $400,000 given to IMB in January this year with $275,000 coming from reserves.”

He said, “All these additional dollars express the priority of the Executive Board and South Carolina Baptists to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth while trying to assist in sending more missionaries and slow the hundreds of IMB missionaries being brought back home. I am proud to be identified with a state convention placing such a high priority on intentional missionary deployment.”

D. Ray Davis, IMB’s associate vice president for Church and Partner Connections said, “At a time when David Platt is urging Southern Baptists not to pull back (on financial giving), we thank South Carolina Baptists for giving above and beyond. The Great Commission demands our best and we praise God for our partners in the Gospel.”

In 2014, the Southern Baptist Convention’s international mission force included 214 missionaries with ties to South Carolina. Through the SC Global connections partnership with WMU, the state convention has relationship with 175 of those missionaries.

Tim Rice, director of Missions Mobilization for the state convention, said, “So much of our missions strategy revolves around field personnel. We have been actively connecting our churches with SC missionaries worldwide in the last two years. These missionaries are depending on our partnership, prayers and financial support to make disciples of all Nations. I am glad we can give to the IMB at a time when it is so desperately needed.”

WRITTEN BY SCOTT VAUGHAN

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