The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship announced budget cuts May 26 reducing the number of missionaries on the field and eliminating two senior level positions at CBF headquarters in Decatur, Ga.
“After a thorough financial analysis, the Fellowship will reduce current expenses in every area, including personnel costs, to bring spending in line with strategic directions and revenue forecasts while retooling for maximum ministry effectiveness and efficiency in global missions and ministries,” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said in a news release.
Bo Prosser, coordinator of organizational relationships and CBF staff member since 2002, will continue to serve part time as leader of the 1,800-church Fellowship’s Ministerial Excellence Initiative and a coach and consultant for the Dawnings church-renewal project.
Duties of Ron Fairley, promoted to associate coordinator of projects and services in 2014 after being hired as director of information technology, will be outsourced.
Citing a 25 percent decrease in gifts to the Offering for Global Missions, CBF leaders said a new funding strategy for missions adopted last year will be implemented in phases.
Five missionaries will transition off of field personnel status on Sept. 30, according to Jeff Huett, associate coordinator of communications and advancement.
Huett said four new missionaries will be appointed at the upcoming CBF General Assembly in Atlanta in accordance with the new funding plan. Their salaries, housing, benefits and administrative support will be paid from the global missions offering, while they raise their own ministry budget from “partners” such as congregations, family or friends.
Huett said three “partner-funded” individuals will maintain active field status but not transition into the new funding model this year. Their transition next year will depend on a rebound in the Offering for Global Missions.
One global missions staff position in Decatur will be eliminated, he said, and two others will be reduced to half time.
CBF Global Missions Coordinator Steven Porter said these are “bittersweet days” with new mission opportunities opening up and new individuals feeling called to missionary service but not enough money to keep them on the field.
“We have a relatively small number of churches in the Fellowship that contribute disproportionately to global missions,” Porter said. “I simply wish more congregations would experience the joy of sacrificial giving to advance the gospel beyond our own communities.”
Huett said the total budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which begins in October, is $13.6 million. That compares to $14.1 million for 2016-2017 but includes increased spending for new priorities including church engagement, diversity initiatives and identity-building.
According to the news release, Rubén Ortiz, coordinator of the CBF Latino Network, will join the CBF staff this fall in a senior role on the leadership team and direct the Fellowship’s Latino outreach. Mark Pollard, a consultant with the National Campaign for Just Renewal, has been named to lead relationship-building efforts among African-American faith communities.
Huett said the new budget also includes funding for Fellowship Southwest, a recently announced network to coordinate CBF work in three state and regional organizations led by veteran Baptist journalist Marv Knox.