FRESNO — California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board members approved a reduced proposed budget for 2020 and reallocated 5 percent of Cooperative Program gifts for world mission causes to the CSBC budget, to address financial operating concerns of the Executive Board and Jenness Park.
Because of years-long deficits in Executive Board and Jenness Park operations, Board members approved the 5 percent reduction in gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention for world mission causes, to overcome deficit spending and afford both entities the opportunity to begin operating within a balanced budget. Leaders noted there would be consideration to reinstate the CP allocation to the SBC in the 2022 budget.
The proposed spending plan calls for a reduction from 35 to 30 percent, or $382,500, the amount allocated to the SBC for world missions. The proposed plan allocates $150,000 to address deficits at Jenness Park Christian Camp; $100,000 will address a growing need for CSBC-funded church planting efforts; and $71,250 is allocated for CSBC ministry opportunities.
During discussion of the proposed budget Bill Agee, CSBC executive director, explained to Board members that both Executive Board and Jenness Park operations “have been running deficits for a number of years and this is the reality of where we find ourselves today.”
A budget summary released with the proposed plan indicates deficit spending for Executive Board operations as high as $1.17 million in 2013. Those deficits have decreased over the years — since 2016 the deficit has decreased from $980,000 to an expected $230,000 for 2019.
Agee reported the 2020 plan is a “balanced budget for the first time in many years.”
From 2013-19, Jenness Park deficits will total some $1.985 million, or an average of $271,500 annually.
With all reserves gone, Agee said, “I see no other alternative (to reducing the CP percentage). This budget is not the best option. It is the only option,” he declared.
Marc Tempesta, CSBC chief financial officer, explained that Jenness Park staff also is working to solve the situation by examining camping rates, adding camps to increase camper nights and evaluating staffing.
“Our goal,” Tempesta said, “is for Jenness Park to have a balanced budget just like CSBC. JP and CSBC could operate with deficits as long as we had reserves to cover the shortfall. With no reserves, CSBC can’t afford to do that anymore.”
Agee explained the reality that one bad year for either CSBC or Jenness Park could be disastrous and send the Convention into bankruptcy.
He likened the situation to “the perfect storm.”
“While we (CSBC) were racking up deficit spending, we also were increasing our giving to the SBC. During this same time period we were impacted by the changes in funding by the North American Mission Board.
“I’m not saying that is right or wrong, but it is a reality.
“This budget is a chance to buy us some time. I believe we can help Jenness Park pull through this. We are willing to help, but it will take the 5 percent to make them strong.”
Another component of the reduced CP percentage is putting more California Cooperative Program dollars into church planting.
“We need dollars for California-funded church planting,” Agee asserted. “We are grateful for what NAMB does, but we need to do our part as well. These dollars will be used to fund church plants that either NAMB can’t or won’t fund.
“I firmly believe California Southern Baptists need to do our part in the church planting effort.”
The $100,000 earmarked for CSBC-funded church plants would fully support two new works for three years.
Agee said when he became executive director in May 2017, he didn’t “come here to build a career or be a long-term guy. My first responsibility is for the Convention to do well. I can’t worry about any other entity. We need to do our part and do our job.
“I believe I’ve demonstrated that through cutting costs in every way possible,” Agee said. “The result has been reduced spending by almost $1 million in three years without any additional income.
“I believe we’ve demonstrated that we can be trusted, and you can trust that we will do what is right.
“I’m asking churches to step up in the areas of evangelism/baptisms, church planting, mission going and mission giving in 2020. If we don’t step up, we can’t expect anyone else to either.”
Asked when the funding might be restored to the SBC, Agee and Tempesta both said they are committed to doing that “as long as CSBC has reserves and both entities are fiscally sound.” They estimated it would take at least two years before looking at beginning to reinstate the 5 percent.
Board members voted unanimously to endorse the proposed budget.
Board members also approved a new set of bylaws to govern their operations. More than a year in the making, the new bylaws set a course for operating with a reduced number of Board members and reduced number of regions in the state.
The new bylaws are predicated on CSBC Constitution and Bylaw recommendations before messengers to reduce the number of regions from nine to seven and reduce the size of the Executive Board from 40 to 28. The recommendations were introduced at the 2018 annual meeting in Clovis and will be voted on at this year’s annual meeting, Oct. 22-23 at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon.
The new bylaws came from a Documents Review Committee that was appointed in 2017 by then Board chairman Don Fugate. As the new bylaws were being developed, the review committee kept Board members informed about the process and provided opportunity for input. The Executive Board currently has five standing committees with Board members each serving on one committee, with the exception of those on the Executive Committee.
Under the new plan, the Board will be comprised of four standing committees and three “special purpose” committees.
The Board also voted to no longer provide the GuideStone Financial Resources protection benefit package (survivor and disability benefit) for pastors and church staff members, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The elimination of the benefit addresses CSBC budget concerns and will save approximately $120,000 annually.
Tempesta said GuideStone guidelines also are changing to include the pastor contributing to a GuideStone retirement account, which would make it difficult for CSBC to monitor. He noted the protection package still is available for pastors and church members on their own through GuideStone. Those currently receiving the benefit will be notified that the Convention will no longer provide it.
The Board approved eight congregations for membership: Vantage Point Church, Eastvale; St. Joseph Baptist Church, Fresno; Second Baptist Church, Indio; First Baptist Church, Madera; Radius Church, North Hollywood; Perris Valley Community Church, Perris; Casa del Alfarero Ministries, Redwood City; and Newlife Christian Fellowship, San Diego.
The Board also approved the 2019-20 Church Planning Calendar with any necessary changes during the year.
Board members re-elected Victor Chayasirisobhon, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, and Duane Tadlock, a member of Fourteenth Avenue Baptist Church in Sacramento, as chairman and vice chairman, respectively.
The next meeting of the Executive Board is scheduled for January 23-24.