Georgia Baptists face challenging financial situation

The Georgia Baptist Convention has moved to substantially decrease its budget following a meeting of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Executive Committee Sept. 15. Budget reductions came following a 10-year study of annual audits.

The audits reported a 31 percent decrease in revenue, including a $1.21 million drop in Cooperative Program giving to the state convention. Georgia Baptist Executive Director Thomas Hammond Jr. and others pointed to a longstanding practice of consistent cash overspend for non-budgeted items.

Those losses came through supporting camps, colleges and The Christian Index. The two conference centers have lost over $22 million during a 10-year period. The Toccoa Conference Center (Georgia Baptist Assembly) is now up for sale.

Hammond stated, “We no longer have the ability to underwrite party losses. Through downsizing and adjusting staff levels, we worked to match our future strategies for reaching Georgia and the world with the gospel.”

The convention suspended employer retirement contributions for all staff and initiated staff pay reductions.

David Melber, chief operating officer for the state convention, proposed that assets not aligned with the GBMB be sold: an antebellum mansion acquired by the convention in 2000, 340 vacant acres in Waycross, a house in Norman Park, and the Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth.

The proposed 2021 budget represents a 6 percent decrease, which follows decreases of 5.16 percent in 2009, 8.2 percent in 2010, and 6 percent in 2012. Messengers will vote on the proposed budget at the annual meeting Nov. 9 in Macon.

— Reported by Scott Barkley, editor of The Christian Index, GBMB’s newsjournal.