LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky Baptists giving to the Cooperative Program remained at near normal levels in March, even as the threat of spreading the coronavirus forced churches to hold Sunday services online.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Todd Gray said he was encouraged by giving in March but expected future “giving may be challenged during this time.”
“There is no doubt Kentucky Baptists will continue to do the best they can with the resources available to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ,” Gray said.
Less than a month ago, Gov. Andy Beshear called for all Kentucky churches to stop holding large gatherings and suspend Sunday morning worship services. He has since issued executive orders shutting down schools, restaurants to dine-in service, and other businesses deemed non-essential. Only groceries, pharmacies, gas stations and other life-sustaining businesses remain open for in-person commerce.
This week, the governor extended his caution about spreading the coronavirus by warning families to not gather outside during the Easter weekend, even if maintaining the recommended six feet apart.
As most Kentucky Baptist churches began worshiping on Sunday mornings via Facebook or some other live streaming service, they continued to give their tithes and offerings to the local church. The churches, in turn, continued to give a percentage of their receipts to the Cooperative Program. The total amount given to the Cooperative Program in March was $1,662,782, only about $43,000 less than the $1,705,809 given in March 2019.
“We are so grateful for the priority Kentucky Baptists place on missions giving even during such challenging days,” said Jim Donnell, KBC associate executive director for Convention Operations & Communications.
Overall giving to the Cooperative Program is down $202,292, or 1.58 percent, for fiscal year 2019-20 with less than five months remaining in the budget calendar.
“Although the months of April and May may prove to be a very difficult period in financial terms for KBC churches, we know the Lord will continue to work through His people to accomplish His purposes regardless of the circumstances,” Donnell said.
“The ministry and missions supported by Kentucky Baptists through the Cooperative Program continue to move forward even if in different ways than before,” Gray said. “Sunrise Children’s Services continues to serve Kentucky’s most vulnerable children. Oneida Baptist Institute continues to educate students. Clear Creek continues to train leaders for Christian ministry. The International Mission Board continues to reach into all the world with the gospel.”
Resources directed to the Cooperative Program are also used to support Kentucky Baptist missionaries, new church plants, and provide training and consultation services to Kentucky’s 2,360 affiliated churches and their pastors. Half of what KBC receives from churches is forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention, which supports missionaries and ministries taking the gospel across North America and around the world.