THE BWA RESPONSE TO THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN
BY NEVILLE CALLAM
During 2008, predictions were that the world’s economic woes would have savage effects on organizations that operate on a not for
profit basis. Predictions of major decline in giving to not-for-profit organizations were legion.
Over the past year, many church-run institutions have seen a widening gap between their expectations and the reality of their income.
These include theological colleges, publishing firms and various ministries. The main reason for this trend is the global economic
meltdown that many nations are trying to combat.
A recent Wilson Research Strategies/Dunham & Company poll of Christian adults in America found that, owing to the economic
situation, nearly 50 percent of these adults reduced their giving to charity. Forty-six percent of Christians surveyed – representing 62.5
million Americans – indicated they had reduced their giving to charity “as a result of the sagging economy.”
The poll found that “those most impacted by the faltering economy” are persons over 55 years of age, the “demographic segment
of the population that is most supportive of non-profit organizations.”
“Fifty-five percent of households with incomes of $40,000-$60,000 [said] the economy . . . impacted their contributions, while . . .
40 percent of households of $60,000-$100,000 [said] the same thing.”
Nor has the BWA escaped the effects of this economic meltdown. At the BWA office, we took steps to reduce spending and sought
divine guidance for securing the continuance of the work to which we have all committed ourselves through the BWA.
Remaining convinced that the BWA serves in response to a conviction of divine calling, we sought fervently to discern God’s will
for the ongoing work of the movement. Members of the BWA staff endeavored to offer our best to the mission at hand and trusted God’s
proven faithfulness to those who participate in God’s mission in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We regularly reviewed and made changes to the methods we used in order to maintain contact with the worldwide Baptist community
to cement global Baptist solidarity. BWA staff members visited Baptist groups and member bodies in all regions of the BWA and we
communicated regularly with all who make financial contributions to the Alliance, utilizing a range of available technologies and
approaches to fund the mission.
Member bodies and friends of the BWA have been faithful to God in supporting the BWA and we ended the year in a much better
position that we thought likely in late September 2008.
Member body contributions and also other contributions to the General Fund declined by 5.6 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.
However, contributions to the restricted funds reflected an increase.
Simultaneously, we managed to keep expenditure at 4.6 percent below budget. This resulted from the
cooperation given by BWA staff members. Vacant positions remained at the end of a year during which,
for example, members of the BWA ministry team took on new responsibilities to meet the need. I am very grateful to every BWA staffer
for the cooperation they have given in the face of the situation about which they were all aware.
We are deeply indebted to the members and partners of the BWA whose commitment to the global Baptist movement was severely
tested. In spite of the difficulties they faced, they rose to the challenge and supported the BWA.
We have undertaken a detailed analysis of the pattern of financial support the BWA has been receiving over the years. On the
basis of this work, we are clearer about the need to vastly increase the number of donors to the Alliance. We hope, for instance, that
those who know the organization best will demonstrate their commitment to the organization by contributing to its financial wellbeing.
Thanks to all of you who actually register your personal commitment to the BWA by contributing financially to help the Alliance fulfill
THE CARIBBEAN & THE WORLD: ECONOMIC CONDITIONS
The Caribbean has not been spared the effects of the global economic problems that have preoccupied the attention and concern of
world leaders and others over the past several months. It is understandable that in some notable ways the current situation would be felt
most acutely by those countries and regions of small and persistently struggling economies to which the Caribbean region belongs.
The church in the region has been particularly challenged to become more involved than ever in matters of welfare and development.
The Caribbean Baptist Fellowship is concerned that its member bodies will become fully involved in this enterprise. It has sought to
encourage them to this end. At the same time, as a Fellowship, we are not unmindful of certain critically important lessons that are to be
learnt from what has happened and continues to happen.
The exposure of our idolatries, the failure of responsible stewardship, the lopsidedness of our development strategies, the folly of the
assumption of invincibility based on wealth accumulation and the willful distortion of the connection between means and ends, are just
some of the things that are being brought to our attention.
As a Fellowship, we are committed to join our action in pursuit of wholesome development strategies for our people with
prophetic-ethical proclamation of the Gospel, with its liberating alternative vision of reality.
— From the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship
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