CP EMPHASIS: Diverse profiles reveal a common passion for cooperation
EDITOR'S NOTE: In recognition of the SBC's October emphasis on the Cooperative Program, Baptist Press will provide readers with extra news and information detailing the scope and depth of the Cooperative Program and its impact for the Kingdom. Using vignettes and profiles of churches and individuals, as well as historical and ongoing accounts, our intent is to explain the Cooperative Program not just as a funding channel but as one of the critical ties that bind Southern Baptists in voluntary fellowship for cooperative ministries and missions.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Across the ocean, and coast to coast, Southern Baptists are responding to the call to make the Gospel known. By putting their love in action through the Cooperative Program, these five churches are demonstrating that no gift is too small, no effort too little when Southern Baptists join together to reach the world to Christ.
ROUTE 66 AND A MISSIONS DNA
Living on the historic Route 66 -- "America's Main Street," connecting the Midwest to the West Coast -- might put the urge to travel in your DNA. At First Baptist Church of Sayre, Okla., flags from the countries and states where mission teams have served cover two walls of the sanctuary.
Working alongside missionaries in the field has given the church a passion for missions.
"Through our church's ever-increasing commitment to going to the world, we have found a greater need and reason to support Cooperative Program giving," pastor Gary Baird said. "Were it not for our missionaries who are CP-supported, the doors we walk through would not have been open."
First Baptist Sayre's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,046; baptisms, 21; primary worship attendance, 266; undesignated receipts, $432,408; Cooperative Program, $75,684; CP percent, 17.5; total missions expenditures, $131,670.
AN ALOHA HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
Warm seas and a tropical sun make the Hawaiian island of Owahu a prime vacation spot. But at Mililani Baptist Church, the congregation of 400 that gathers in four worship services on Sundays wants to go to the world.
Beyond its four church plants and missions-oriented discipleship geared to every member -- including a large percent who are military personnel -- the church is helping to send missionaries around the world thanks in part to its participation through the Cooperative Program. Mililani commits 20.5 percent of its general offerings to reach people through CP.
"When we give through the Cooperative Program, it helps everybody, everywhere, do everything God has called us to do," pastor Derrick Norris said. "It is a proven fact that we can do a lot more together than we can do alone."
Mililani Baptist's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,693; baptisms, 34; primary worship attendance, 389; undesignated receipts, $610,035; Cooperative Program, $125,038; CP percent, 20.5; total missions expenditures, $185,936.
IT'S ABOUT MEETING NEEDS
The rich farming soil in the heart of Illinois is just right for producing a bounty of corn and soybeans. At Highland Avenue Baptist Church in Robinson, discipleship training, financial planning seminars and a mentoring program for mothers are turning up fertile ground for Christ.
With 13 baptisms so far this year, the church is taking the Gospel to its quiet Midwest community through venues that meet families' needs.
"When it comes to the Cooperative Program, our people are at the same place I am," pastor Dwight McDaniel said of Highland Avenue's big-picture view of missions. "We see the CP as the most practical and most efficient way to meet the most needs."
Total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 333; baptisms, 10; primary worship attendance, 203; undesignated receipts, $362,447; Cooperative Program, $56,539; CP percent, 15.6; total missions expenditures, $106,507.
STAYING THE COURSE
It was a meager amount First Baptist Church in Livingston, Tenn., first committed through the Cooperative Program 70 years ago, church minutes read. Today, the small-town church approaches its centennial anniversary with a legacy of nearly 30 years of 17 percent giving through the Cooperative Program.
The church's firm commitment is undergirded by a strong emphasis on praying for the daily needs of missionaries.
"The Cooperative Program keeps our missionaries on the field. If CP dies, our missionaries would have to come home," pastor Don Cobb said. "The more we support CP, the more we see the need around the world and here at home."
First Baptist's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 929; baptisms, 16; primary worship attendance, 269; undesignated receipts, $463,364; Cooperative Program, $83,322; CP percent, 17.98; total missions expenditures, $115,143.
THERE'S AN AP FOR THAT
In the working class, down-to-earth community of Miamisburg, Ohio, the heart of Southern Baptists is as little known as the name. Members of First Baptist Church Miamisburg often are new Christians unfamiliar with the number of mission applications and services the Cooperative Program supports.
When members approach pastor Stephen Spurgin about supporting foreign mission projects, disaster or world hunger relief, he tells them, "You do that every Sunday!"
"We are committed to the Cooperative Program because we believe there are biblical principles to endorse it," Spurgin said. "CP gives every church, regardless of its size, a tremendous opportunity to be intimately involved with taking the Gospel around the world."
First Baptist Miamisburg's total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 902; baptisms, 10; primary worship attendance, 188; undesignated receipts, $407,289; Cooperative Program, $62,640; CP percent, 15.4; total missions expenditures, $111,113.
Marilyn Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.