By Bob Allen
A two-year study charting the future for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is now in the hands of the group’s Coordinating Council, which votes May 1 on the final report in time for it to be published and presented at the CBF General Assembly June 21 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Coordinating Council gave the report provisional approval in February, but asked the 2012 Task Force to clarify concerns voiced in a joint meeting of the two groups also attended by CBF partners in Atlanta.
“We appreciated the excellent comments and suggestions that were made during the meeting in February,” said task force chair David Hull. “We have listened to what was said by the Coordinating Council and the other leaders who were present. We now come forward with what we feel is an improved document.”
Hull, pastor of First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., said the most substantial change from the original recommendation is related to funding. At first the plan was for state and regional CBF organizations to determine percentages of funds to be divided among national and state missions and ministries and various partners. Those funding agreements would be used by CBF national staff in Atlanta to develop a budget approved by a renamed Governing Council.
The new proposal is for national CBF and every state/regional CBF organization to adopt formal agreements of shared funding determined in dialogue between state and national bodies and approved by both governing bodies. Funds from churches would be shared in terms of those agreements whether they are received by the national CBF or by a state or region. The proposal still allows individual churches to designate that funds be disbursed as they choose, if they prefer that to the default agreement.
Hull said the intent of the change is to cut down on duplication and build collaboration between state/regional and national CBF organizations. Currently the two groups have separate budgeting processes, sometimes with little communication, and states and regions relate to national CBF in a variety of different ways. The final report says the new funding plan would “represent an unprecedented level of cooperation between CBF and state/regional CBF organizations” and be significant in “fostering missional collaboration rather than competition for resources.”
“We are in hopes that our new outline of a funding strategy will strengthen the ties between national CBF and the states and regions,” Hull said. “In addition, we hope that our values of freedom and cooperation will continue to be very evident in the new approach to a funding strategy. We believe that this rewritten section on funding will be well-received and will be a very positive step forward in our cooperative work.”
The Coordinating Council received the report April 15 for review prior to a called meeting May 1, said Lance Wallace, CBF director of communications. Council members who cannot attend will be able to participate virtually through an online meeting tool. After any amendments or recommendations, the entire document will be published for review by the entire CBF community prior to the General Assembly vote.