Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Georgia Baptist Convention surprises

A pleasant surprise
John Waters was elected GBC president with about 53% of the votes. I had the feeling that he was the underdog. Waters' opponent, Fred Evers, had some very heavy hitters backing him, including the host pastor. He also had by reason of his position a prominent place on the convention program and platform.

My guess is that Waters gained votes as a result of his extraordinary commitment concerning appointments to key GBC committees. To be candid, most folks attending the meetings are outsiders like me (though the so-called GBCInsider tweeted support for Waters during the meeting) and I couldn't see much difference between the two candidates, other than the appointment business.

The GBC has some difficult days ahead. Waters has my prayers.

An unpleasant surprise
In between the time the GBC staff printed the convention Book of Reports for the meeting and this week, revenue projections for 2012 came in and the GBC had to cut an additional $1.7 million from the proposed budget. Both the SBC and the GBC took a haircut on that. Debt service escaped unscathed, not that there was a choice about that.

A semi-pleasant surprise
I wrote earlier this year about a confusing aspect of GBC accounting. In this state GBC staff likes to state that the GBC "shares each Cooperative Program dollar equally" with the SBC. This is an accurate statement but only because the GBC has created an artificial category they call "Shared Responsibilities" into which a pile of expenses are tossed, sufficient to make up about 20% of the entire GBC budget. After doing that, staff can tout 40% SBC, 40% GBC, 20% shared, even though over 60% of those CP dollars never make it north of the Georgia-Tennessee border.

Let's be frank: We don't "share equally." But there is a new wrinkle, one that says that the GBC recognizes the negative perceptions of this accounting technique.

Part of "Shared Responsibilities" has included debt service on the GBC's sparkling and expensive building, about $1.7 million. I was surprised to see that the GBC gurus create an entirely new budget category called "Capital Debt Service." There's no way to describe it as being in any sense "shared" with the SBC.

However....the gurus made an orphan budget category for the debt service rather than to include this in "Georgia Baptist Convention Causes" which it certainly is.

Memo to my friends at the GBC: I commend you for recognizing a problem here but we still don't "share equally" with the SBC, creative accounting notwithstanding.

An unexpected surprise
Most of the program personalities were younger pastors. Nothing wrong with youth and inexperience.

No surprise at all
Virtually all of the GBC staff who had platform time, almost all of the presenters represented were, uh, middle age or older gray hairs. Nothing wrong with age and, hopefully, wisdom, although I hear that older folks are more likely to...uh...die. Well, you get the idea here.

Another unpleasant surprise, and probably the most salient of all.
Dr. White, GBC leader, stated that churches were giving around 8% of their offering plate dollars through the CP in 2000 but that this had dropped to about 5.5%. That is a staggering 31% decrease in a decade.

There are some challenges. May God guide us as we meet these.


Dave Miller said...

In Iowa, we haven't had a contested presidential election in about 18 years. We had a contested VP race this year for the first time in my memory.

William Thornton said...

But then everyone isn't as widely known and loved as you are...

I couldn't get elected to nuthin' in this state.

Justin Owens said...


Thanks for sharing for those of us not able to attend.