Alaska Baptists vote to withhold CP funds, this is a thorough article by George Schroeder, associate VP at the SBC Executive Committee. If you think Schroeder’s piece is biased then show me how. Quotes from both sides.
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, said the action taken by Alaska’s state convention “is a unilateral breach of a 95-year system as our most trusted funding mechanism,” and added: “The Cooperative Program is not a cafeteria plan.”
Randy Covington, the state convention’s executive director, spoke in favor of the motion. He later described the action as “somber,” but said it was “a necessary step” toward resolution of differences the state convention has with NAMB.
Alaska state convention action: Can the CP survive cafeteria style? By your humble hacker and plodder blogger. Pushback from some commenters. Example:
Given what I keep reading about NAMB and perceived heavy-handedness there (this isn’t a one-off story), things like this may continue to occur. Consequently, it makes me wonder if this suggests something isn’t working properly at NAMB? If that’s the case, then shouldn’t we be asking more questions about how NAMB is being operated and why these stories seem to keep popping up? Gus Nelson, occasional erudite Voices commenter. I don’t think he is a pastor but is very well informed on SBC stuff. He can add bio if he wishes.
Commenter Robin Lee gave a link to the actual discussion in the Alaska convention meeting. It’s helpful to watch and I reviewed it from the start of discussion on this issue (2:55:13) to the end of it.
A few things to add, and to know, about this important situation:
NAMB has a lot of critics. Those who spoke at the Alaska Baptist Resource Network (name of the state convention, ARBN) meeting were fairly unstinting in criticism of NAMB. The issue is not NAMB supporting work in Alaska but in how they are doing it. NAMB thinks it is more effective to put their millions in Alaska directly, rather than subject funding to ARBN controls, caveats, and provisos. Other non-South state conventions have complained loudly about NAMB.
NAMB was given permission by the SBC in annual session to control their budget, i.e., to set their goals and support them accordingly. If state conventions prefer the old system of NAMB paying for state staff, associational missionaries, etc., in a “historic partnership” or “traditional cooperative” manner, then who has the final say? If it’s CP money, or Annie Armstrong money, then clearly NAMB is given the final say, by the SBC.
NAMB has put $8.3 million into Alaska since 2010. NAMB spends more per person in Alaska than in any other state. It’s not detailed where the money went but these historic cooperative agreements between states and NAMB meant NAMB funded a lot of staff positions. The ARBC is welcome to correct me if this is wrong. I would be delighted to see NAMB or ARBN detail funding. These things have never been made fully public, since they involve various personnel. One might speculate that the pushback against NAMB’s current funding policy in Alaska has more to do with personnel than results.
The ARBN reported a total of 81 churches in 2010 and 88 churches in 2018. That’s a net increase of eight churches in nine years, and with over $8 million in NAMB funding, plus whatever the ARBN spent of it’s share of CP money and state offerings.
If NAMB has had control over spending in Alaska for the past decade, likely around $10 million, and reported to Southern Baptists that they have increased churches by single digits at a prorated cost of around $1 million per church, then questions would be asked and answers demanded. No need to explain to me the unique situation in Alaska or how the work is difficult there. I would assume all that. Still, where are the millions of dollars, (forgive me) cold cash, going?
The current CEO in Alaska, Randy Covington supported the action. The former CEO, Michael Procter, made the motion that was passed. Both are highly competent and experienced Southern Baptists who have long served in positions funded by The Cooperative Program. I would ask them, why cutting the heart out of the Cooperative Program is the solution to your problems with NAMB?
I’d expect the answer would be that NAMB is not being cooperative. If being cooperative means repeating the traditional funding schemes and support, and the results shown by such, then I’d hope NAMB would be recalcitrant.
But the underlying issue is the integrity of the Cooperative Program. I would have expected leadership in Alaska to have found a way to work this out without destroying the CP. If we accept a cafeteria approach the CP is doomed. Some seminaries have strident critics. The ERLC is a perpetual target for a sub-group of SBCers. Shall we have a system where any state convention can negatively designate, cafeteria style, SBC entities? Would we have a checkerboard of state funding schemes where this or that seminary or the ERLC was defunded at the state level? We agreed, together, almost a century ago to create our funding mechanism, the Cooperative Program. It can be changed at any time by the SBC in annual session.
Any state convention can forego the CP and collect funds from their churches in some other manner, and spend it accordingly. Or, they can keep larger percentages of the CP.
The SBC cannot impact a state convention budget through the CP because they don’t like how a given state convention is spending them. The principle of cooperation means this works both ways. States don’t have to collect or promote the CP but they can’t pick and choose which SBC entities receive them.
The Cooperative Program is an agreement between the SBC and state conventions and is a very sweet deal for the states which keep on average around 60% of CP receipts. Alaska keeps 80% of a CP dollar (latest figure I found). That’s their decision. The Executive Committee has no say in that. It’s not their business. The ARBN could have increased their percentage to send a message about NAMB but instead chose to undermine the entire CP. Not a good choice in my view.
This is a place where dissenting views can be aired. I’m pretty sure some of the Voices team would disagree with me on some parts of this. Have at it.
As an aside, while listening to the meeting, a speaker mentioned the ARBN’s representation on various SBC boards. If I recall correctly, the ARBN has a trustee at NAMB and IMB. NAMB doesn’t list a trustee from Alaska but has one at IMB. That means that Alaska has one trustee per 88 or so churches. My state, Georgia, has about one per 600, but who’s complaining about over or under representation?
Randy Covington is likely in a tight spot. He called the action “somber.” I’m rather somber about it myself. I understand that the ARBN didn’t actually take any action other than to say they would act to undermine the CP fifteen months down the road, in their 2021-2022 budget. One expects that they will work it out with NAMB but, still, this isn’t a good look for the CP or the ABRN.
So, get you grizzly gun out and fire away. I welcome anyone telling me if I’ve had a heat stroke here in Georgia and are all mixed up or telling me something I need to know. The relevant facts are public.
Other state conventions have complained recently about NAMB. None of them have acted to undermine the CP, though.
Yes, I know that the BGCT tried this. Now they have two conventions.
Photo from the ARBN website. Denali, I believe. I think I’ve stood on the spot from where that pic was taken.