Published May 29, 2019
FRESNO — California Southern Baptist Convention eliminated two elected staff positions May 13 in response to fixed costs and flat Cooperative Program giving.
The two positions were in the church revitalization initiatives team and include Daryl Watts and Mike McGuffee, both long-tenured employees serving more than 27 years and 18 years, respectively.
Watts began serving as director of the youth ministries department on Oct. 1, 1991. For more than 20 years one of his primary responsibilities was planning, organizing and executing the state student conference (now called Ignition), along with family ministries, discipleship and most recently stewardship. He also served as a healthy church consultant and Count the Cost consultant.
McGuffee began his service with CSBC on April 1, 2001 as director of the ministerial leadership department, working primarily to help pastors and church staff members in their quest to become better leaders. Through the years, he maintained those duties as well as becoming a healthy church consultant and most recently a Count the Cost (church revitalization plan) consultant.
Bill Agee, CSBC executive director, asked California Southern Baptists to pray for Watts and McGuffee as the decision “impacts their ministry and family. Please pray for God to bless them with new beginnings in ministry that continue to impact the Kingdom.”
“This is a painful decision,” Agee lamented, “but one I felt I had to make now to keep our Convention on solid financial footing.
“I pledge to do all within my purview to continue providing quality resources to the more than 2,300 CSBC congregations.”
Marc Tempesta, CSBC chief financial officer, said elimination of the positions comes as “CSBC faces a potential annual shortfall of almost $400,000 when depreciation, retiree benefits and ministerial protection plan benefits are taken into account, combined with flat CP giving by churches since 2008.”
Giving since 2006 has leveled out to about $6.5 million, according to Tempesta. In 2018 CP gifts totaled $6,439,111.
The CSBC Executive Board met May 9-10 (see story this page), and Board members were apprised of the potential shortfall. The full Board was not informed of eliminating the two staff positions because of the “sensitive nature of the issue,” Agee said. However, the Executive Committee, which serves as the personnel committee of the Board, supported the decision.
“My goal in taking this position,” Agee explained, “is to empower the vision of our churches. That has not wavered since beginning my tenure 24 months ago. This action will not deter CSBC from being a primary resource for our churches in their mission to reach California communities with the gospel.”
Revitalization is one of the pillars of Agee’s plan to strengthen CSBC churches.
“Eliminating these positions and losing these people is truly a blow,” Agee stressed. “However, we have trained many volunteer consultants who we believe will help us keep pace with the demand of Count the Cost implementation and coaching.”
He added he is confident the Convention can help churches through the primary initiatives teams — evangelism and missions, church revitalization, small church and church planting.
Decisions like this are “never easy and by no means taken lightly,” Agee said. “I felt this is what had to be done to secure the future of California Southern Baptist Convention. Even though our economy seems to be booming, non-profits and religious entities are living in challenging times. We want to be the best stewards of what the Lord provides, and believe this is the path on which He led us.”