By Jeff Huett
DECATUR, Ga. – Cooperative Baptists attending the virtual 2020 CBF General Assembly will vote Friday morning on a proposal by the CBF Governing Board for a one-time delay in the preparation of the Fellowship’s annual ministry and mission budget.
At 10:30 a.m. Friday, the Governing Board will ask the General Assembly to authorize a short-term continuation of the current budget for up to 90 additional days with the understanding that the Governing Board will adopt a new budget October 2 that implements the priorities revealed in Toward Bold Faithfulness, while also being responsible to the Fellowship’s financial position. That budget will be published widely when it is enacted.
All attendees registered for General Assembly will receive an email containing voting instructions prior to the Friday morning vote.
The annual budget is prepared in a months-long process combining efforts of staff and the finance committee of the Governing Board. Instead of preparing a proposed budget in March and April for consideration at this year’s June General Assembly, the Governing Board has authorized the Finance Committee to prepare a budget this summer for final action at the October 1-2 meeting of the Governing Board. The Fellowship operates within a fiscal year that begins October 1 and ends September 30.
The change in the budget preparation schedule is out of a desire to make sure that the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year implements CBF’s responsibilities as determined in the discovery and response phases of Toward Bold Faithfulness.
The report on the findings of the discovery process was not completed until May, and the response phase is beginning now. The normal budget timeline would have required preparing a budget prior to the conclusion of the discovery process and before the beginning of the response phase.
Also, the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic further caused the Finance Committee and the Governing Board to want to assess how the economic impact of COVID-19 would affect Fellowship revenues so that the next budget was prepared in light of that revenue information.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley expressed support for the shift in budget schedule as the best path forward for the Fellowship this year.
“While we have experienced a decline in revenue in contributions to the Offering for Global Missions and CBF Ministries and Missions compared to last year, we have also seen substantial decline in expenses because of adjustments made at the beginning of the pandemic,” Baxley said. “The excellent containment of spending on the part of our staff and Finance Committee has been absolutely vital to our ability to continue to offer innovative and faithful ministry even in the face of a radically changed landscape. In this regard, we believe we are doing what so many of our congregations are doing; finding new efficiencies and strengthening our determination to serve Christ even more faithfully in this time.”
Baxley continued, saying, “these days are incredibly challenging in so many ways but they are also filled with rare opportunities for bold faithfulness.”
“So, it is incredibly important that we prepare a budget for our next fiscal year that allows our Fellowship to live fully into the callings we are discovering in Toward Bold Faithfulness while also reflecting our financial capacity. This modified schedule for preparing the budget gives us the best chance of accomplishing those critically important goals. The budget can fully incorporate the results of the discovery and response phases of Toward Bold Faithfulness, and also be built on the most accurate revenue projections that reflect the impact of COVID-19. Our Finance Committee, Governing Board and staff are all deeply committed to these objectives.”
CBF Moderator Kyle Reese said, “as we move into the Fellowship’s future, it’s important our budget reflects the priorities spoken of in Toward Bold Faithfulness.”
“Receiving more than 4,600 survey responses speaks volumes about individuals and congregations hopes for our future,” Reese said. “This budget allows us time to put our money and energy behind the priorities discovered in the process.”
Jason Callahan, chair of the finance committee of the CBF Governing Board, said the outcome of Toward Bold Faithfulness initiative will shape how funds are allocated going forward, and it is critical to the CBF Staff and Governing Board that the budget is as accurate as possible.
“Developing a budget in the Spring for approval at the General Assembly in June would not give CBF the time to allocate funds based on the priorities outlined in the Toward Bold Faithfulness initiative,” Callahan said. “Likewise, given the trends in recent months due to COVID-19, developing a budget now for a fiscal year that ends in September would not be fiscally responsible and would essentially be a guess. In these unprecedented times with everything in the world changing so quickly, building flexibility into our budget process is essential.”
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.