Cooperative Program 75th
will focus on souls
___By Ferrell Foster
___ATLANTA (BP)--The Southern Baptist Convention launched the celebration of its Cooperative Program's 75th anniversary June 15 with a reminder from Morris Chapman that the financial giving plan is "all about souls."
___"It's very critical that we reach America, the world for Jesus Christ," said Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee. The Cooperative Program is the unified funding plan begun in 1925 through which Baptists cooperate in support of missions and ministries.
___"Partners in the Harvest" is the theme for the 75th anniversary, and all Baptist state conventions and fellowships are participating in the emphasis.
___Three goals have been set for the anniversary, said James Merritt, Executive Committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church in Snellville, Ga. Those goals are:
___ Baptize 1 million people in the year 2000.
___ Sign up a record number of Baptists for volunteer missions projects.
___ Give $750 million in 2000-2001 through CP and special offerings for international, North American and state missions.
___To reach the goal of $750 million total missions giving in 2000-2001 would require $60 million in additional CP gifts through local churches across the country, said Jim Powell, director of Cooperative Program relations for the Executive Committee. "That is beyond business as usual."
___In 1997-98, Southern Baptists gave $440 million through the Cooperative Program, according to the 1999 SBC Book of Reports. Giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions amounted to $94 million, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions raised $42 million.
___The three figures total more than $577 million. The amount given through state missions offerings was not available.
___A live performance by three popular singers and pledges from three prominent pastors highlighted the anniversary presentation during the opening session of the SBC annual meeting in Atlanta.
___Messengers stood to their feet and applauded while Clay Crosse, Bob Carlisle and BeBe Winans sang "I Will Follow Christ." Crosse, a Southern Baptist, and Steve Siler wrote the song, which is on Crosse's newest album, "I Surrender All." A video of the song will be sent to Southern Baptist churches, and the three artists are going to participate in a CP missions project, according to an Executive Committee news release.
___Testimonies from pastors Adrian Rogers, Jim Henry and Jack Graham included their plans to lead their churches to increase by 1 percentage point the amount of undesignated receipts given through the Cooperative Program.
___Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., said Southern Baptists have won the battle for the inerrancy of Scripture. "Let's not lose the battle for the authority and power of the Scripture" by failing to support the Cooperative Program, Rogers said.
___Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., encouraged churches to give a tithe of undesignated receipts through the CP. "We have an opportunity for teamwork like the world has never seen. ... See what God will do," he urged.
___Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, referred to hockey, which has become popular in his city. In hockey, a penalty results in one team getting a "power play," which is a two-minute "all-out assault on the net." He encouraged Southern Baptists to be part of a "power play for the Lord Jesus Christ. It's called the Cooperative Program."
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