Published Feb 22, 2022
By Terry Barone
FRESNO—In 2021 California Southern Baptist Convention recorded a Cooperative Program surplus to build operational reserves for the second consecutive year and received the largest California Mission Offering in its history.
CP gifts for 2021 totaled $5,836,903, or 90.8 percent of the $6.425 million objective. The surplus totaled $606,747 and has helped in building CSBC operational reserves.
Gifts to the CMO totaled $406,945, or 101.7 percent of the goal. An estate gift of $216,414 earmarked for California missions also was received in 2021 and added to the offering making the 2021 state mission offering of $623,259 the largest in CSBC history. The previous high was $515,392 given in 2005.
Cooperative Program results
While receipts fell short of the CP objective, Marc Tempesta, CSBC chief financial officer, said, the surplus “is a bright spot” for the Convention and signals “a financial shift to be sustainable for years to come.”
Tempesta noted the failure in reaching the CP objective “may be related to COVID-19” due to decreased giving and attendance at churches of all denominations statewide, not just CSBC congregations.
Tempesta said CSBC has been diligent in building reserves and has approximately $4 million, or a years’ worth of operational expenses. “CSBC is in a strong position to weather potential storms. With that financial security, I’m excited about a future for the Convention to be proactive rather than reactive.”
He noted two primary factors in building operational reserves – “federal Covid relief and living within our means.” The CSBC executive team, staff and Executive Board “have worked diligently to live within our means which resulted in a $1 million operational surplus between 2020 and 2021.”
Another contributing factor to operational reserves, according to Tempesta, is depreciation which is completely covered in the CSBC budget and investment income.
Allocations of the $5.8 million in CP gifts were distributed as follows – 35 percent, or $2,042,916, for national and world missions through the SBC Executive Committee; 2 percent, or $116,738, for California Baptist University; 1 percent, or $58,369, for The Baptist Foundation of California; and 62 percent, or $3,618,880, for evangelism, missions and ministry through CSBC.
CMO gifts used to resource churches
In 2021, CMO bounced back from its 2020 showing when gifts totaled $323,788, or 65 percent of the $499,999 goal. In 2021, the offering surpassed the $400,000 goal by 1.7 percent and was up 26 percent over 2020 gifts.
The largest recipients of CMO gifts are church planting and evangelism. Church planting was earmarked 40 percent, or $249,344, while evangelism efforts garnered 22 percent, or $137,139.
Ross Shepherd, leader of the CSBC Church Planting Initiatives Team, noted CMO gifts will “help provide month to month funding and care for 45 current church planters, as well as 10 new church plants proposed for 2022. CMO is essential for us to start new churches to reach California for Christ.”
The Evangelism Initiative Team will utilize CMO funds to assist California churches through training and resourcing. Working with associations, the team is offering one-day, regional, Evangelism Workshops to train church leaders to create an evangelistic strategy.
Jason Blankenship, leader of the CSBC Evangelism Initiatives Team, said, “CSBC also utilizes CMO funds to provide evangelism grants to help churches implement their strategy.”
Associations will receive 10 percent of $406,945 from churches. Each association receives 10 percent of gifts given by churches in its association.
Also benefitting from the offering are the CSBC Missions Initiatives Team, Church Revitalization Initiatives Team, Office of Communications and Disaster Relief.
Francis Chung, leader of the CSBC Missions Initiatives Team, said CMO is crucial for his team to “connect, train, fund, and fully engage CSBC churches to reach the lost for Christ.”
A few ways the team will use CMO gifts include providing scholarships for summer missionaries, expanding the reach of migrant ministries, creating a platform for women’s ministry, connecting with ethnic fellowship groups, and sponsoring a vision trip for the Asian Pacific Rim Peoples Affinity Partnership with the International Mission Board.”
Tempesta commented that 2021 CMO gifts “show the faithfulness of God’s people in California who are committed to missions. They saw a need, an opportunity and invested in it.”
Tempesta said the estate gift earmarked for state missions was “a wonderful surprise. The estate gift designated for the S.G. Posey Offering decades ago, came to fruition in 2021 to have a substantial Kingdom impact in the years to come.”
He said the result of giving to the California Mission Offering or leaving an estate for California missions is the same: “a huge boost to the ministries of CSBC congregations.”
Faithful giving by California Baptists
Because of gifts like these, Pete Ramirez, CSBC associate executive director, said, “more churches are planted, more evangelistic outreaches take place, and more mission projects are accomplished, all resulting in more people coming to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”
The 2022 CP objective for CSBC is $6 million and the CMO goal is $425,000. Ramirez said, “Both the CP objective and CMO goal for this year can be met with continued faithful giving on the part of California Southern Baptists and their churches. By meeting these goals, CSBC will have vital resources to help churches reach their communities for Christ.”