Ezell: ‘Greatest Annie offering ever’ despite steep decline

The North American Mission Board has announced the 2020 total for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions: Southern Baptists gave $49.3 million in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic created numerous challenges for churches across the nation.

The amount was $20 million short of the $70 million goal and fell below last year’s total of $61.4 million.

“For the last three years in a row [2017-2019], Southern Baptists broke the record for giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “This year, Annie giving was down, but I am humbled and even more grateful for what was given. To me, it is the greatest Annie offering ever. For Southern Baptists to have so sacrificially given during a time when most churches were not even meeting for worship is nothing short of a miracle.”

The initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the middle of the season when most churches would have been collecting their AAEO. In the face of those challenges, NAMB’s priority has been to keep missionaries on the field. To make up for the reduction in the offering, NAMB utilized reserve funds and made budget reductions, such as eliminating travel, moving events to virtual, and placing a freeze on hiring.

“We knew the difficulties and financial hardships churches and church members were facing,” Ezell said. “So, we at NAMB intentionally shifted our focus away from promoting giving to the offering and instead worked to find ways to support churches in this trying year. Still, Southern Baptists did not forget their North American missionaries and found creative ways to give.”