In an earlier article, I wrote about how the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team is the third-largest disaster relief organization in the country. With over 95,000 trained volunteers, Southern Baptists swoop into disaster zones, providing food, clothing, and shelter, among other immediate needs. No one can point their finger at the Southern Baptist Convention and say with any seriousness that the SBC isn’t fulfilling Jesus’ command to love their neighbors. In fact, it would be incredibly difficult to say that the SBC should be doing more. Apparently, though, demonstrating the love of Jesus is an addiction for the Southern Baptist Convention because the Executive Committee just voted to provide even more aid for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The SBC Executive Committee, in its Sept. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, voted to utilize overages in the 2016-2017 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for disaster relief in two ways:
— Designating the first $1.25 million of any overage in the SBC’s $189 million allocation budget for disaster relief in Florida and Texas by the Send Relief ministry of the North American Mission Board.
— Redirecting all of the overage that would go to the Executive Committee to the International Mission Board for international disaster relief initiatives such as those under way in the Caribbean.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program is what individual Southern Baptist churches give money to in order to fund missions and other ministries. In an article addressed to individual church members, the SBC’s website explains:
Every year your church prayerfully decides how much of its undesignated gifts will be committed to reaching people in your state and around the world through The Cooperative Program. This amount is then forwarded to your State Baptist Convention. … Messengers at the State Convention Annual Meetings… from your church and other churches across the state decide what percentage of Cooperative Program gifts contributed by local congregations stay in your state to support local missions and ministries. The percentage to be forwarded to the SBC for North American and international missions and ministries is also determined at this time. [emphasis original]
At the SBC’s annual meeting, messengers sent from participating churches vote on how to allocate the money designated for the North American and international missions boards. The money is used to “send and support missionaries, train pastors, and other ministry leaders; provide relief for retired ministers and widows; and address social, moral, and ethical concerns relating to our faith and families.”
The further allocation of funds to disaster relief is a small yet important part of how the Southern Baptist Convention ministers to a hurting world. Instead of issuing themselves bonus checks with the overage, the Executive Committee is seeking to relieve the suffering of those affected by the recent hurricanes.
The North American Mission Board’s president, Kevin Ezell, reminds us that “Southern Baptists have a history of ministering to and providing for disaster survivors in their greatest hour of need.”
With its latest act of charity, the Southern Baptist Convention continues to demonstrate that it has few peers when it comes to caring for those who are hurting and suffering.