When the coronavirus resulted in churches suspending in-person worship services, a significant decrease in giving was expected — and the domino effect would result in less money given by Kentucky Baptist churches to the Cooperative Program.
In spite of the economic downturn the past six months, Kentucky Baptists have proven to be faithful in their giving to the Cooperative Program, which fuels the ministries of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention.
That obedience in stewardship is evidenced by the most recent (at this writing) statistics, showing giving for the six-month period of March-July down $236,049 from the previous year. In 2018-19, giving for that period amounted to $9,070,482 while the same time period this year saw receipts of $8,831,433 — a decrease of just over 2.5 percent.
July 2020 receipts are especially encouraging. CP giving to the KBC amounted to $1,919,518, down only $30,237 from last year's $1,949,755. It's noteworthy that last year's amount was the largest July since 2008. Also, the July amount was larger than the equivalent time period since 2014.
The July total is on the heels of a strong June, when $1,887,210 was given — a significant increase over the previous year's $1,529,114, according to the KBC Accounting Department.
For 11 months of this fiscal year, giving is down only 1 percent from 2019 and down just 1.82 percent from the 2020 budget.
"When COVID-19 hit the commonwealth, we had no idea how it would impact our cooperative work in ministry and missions," said Todd Gray, KBC executive director-treasurer.
"We knew that Kentucky Baptists are faithful and that our churches value cooperative ministry. We also knew that they would give if they were able. However, the faithfulness of Kentucky Baptists to fund global ministry and missions through the Cooperative Program has been greater than any of us could have expected," Gray observed.
"God has indeed been faithful to Kentucky Baptists and Kentucky Baptists have been faithful to support their missionaries, their seminaries, their church plants, their children in foster care and so much more."
Also sharing praise for the strong July offering was Jim Donnell, KBC associate director for convention operations.
"Cooperative Program giving in July was a tremendous blessing," Donnell said. "No one could have possibly expected that we would receive such strong CP giving, given our current economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Kentucky Baptists' faithfulness to missions giving never ceases to amaze me."
As a result, thus far this year, the Lottie Moon Offering has been $5,173,789, a slight increase over the prior year of $5,140,777. The Eliza Broadus State Mission Offering is down 1.1 percent from the previous year. It is $1,175,110 through July 31, as compared to $1,188,226 last year. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, which was taken during Easter, is down 24.2 percent. Receipts for that offering are $1,682,497 while the prior year it was $2,219,606.
"All of those who are cared for by Kentucky Baptists are not able to write an article and say 'thank you,' but I will say it on their behalf," Gray said. "Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for your generosity and your faithfulness."