Ky. Baptists say children’s home short on funding

Kentucky Baptist leaders are appealing to churches to make up a budget shortfall resulting from Sunrise Children’s Services’ “biblical stand” against hiring employees who are openly gay.

By Bob Allen

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is asking the state’s churches to make up a $5 million funding shortfall at Sunrise Children’s Services following controversy last fall over news that the faith-based agency was considering dropping its ban on hiring gays.

paul ChitwoodKBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood asked the state’s 2,400 Baptist churches to raise about $2,000 each in an offering collected on Mother’s Day after last year’s Thanksgiving offering fell short of ministry needs.

The offering was collected in the middle of controversy over Sunrise President Bill Smithwick’s proposal to the board of trustees that the agency formerly known as Kentucky Baptist Children’s Home would eventually have to drop its policy of discrimination based on sexual orientation or risk losing about $26 million a year it receives in state funding.

Sunrise trustees voted against the change. The Kentucky Baptist Convention voted no-confidence in Smithwick’s leadership in November. He subsequently resigned.

Chitwood said in a Feb. 25 blog that many donors, unsure of where Sunrise stood, simply did not give to the offering last year. In addition, he said: “Some secular funding sources, displeased with Sunrise’s hiring practice that seeks to keep good role models in front of the children, have withdrawn the monies they had earmarked for Sunrise.”

Chitwood said the funding gap that Sunrise needs to raise in addition to government contracts is around $7.5 million. To make up for the deficit and make some needed repairs, he said, the agency stands in need of $5 million.

“As a result of their biblical stand, Sunrise has a cash flow crunch and needs our help,” Chitwood said. “To remedy this problem, the KBC Mission Board has approved the ‘Shine!’ campaign.”

“It’s time for each of our 2,400 Kentucky Baptist churches to step out and fully support Sunrise’s ‘Shine!’ campaign!” Chitwood said. “We are praying that KBC churches will give $2,000 each.”

“Some of our smaller churches will understandably give less and our larger churches will give more,” he said. “We need all churches and all of our Baptist friends involved. Will you join us in underwriting every dollar of this $5 million ‘Shine!’ campaign?”

The Kentucky Baptist Convention contributes $1 million a year to Sunrise’s budget and elects its entire board of directors.

Previous stories:

Smithwick out at Ky. Baptist home

Ky. Baptists vote no-confidence in leader

Kentucky Baptist agency won’t hire gays

Baptist home considers hiring gays