Cooperative Program, providing innumerable stories

A presentation by M.E. Dodd, chairman of the Future Program Commission, at the 1925 annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) outlined a new method of providing funding for SBC causes. The Cooperative Program name came following the adoption of Dodd’s presentation when the messengers heartily approved the report with the following recommendation: "That from the adoption of this report by the Convention our co-operative work be known as 'The Co-operative Program of Southern Baptists.'"

Turning to my dictionary app, Dictionary.com, on my iPhone I found these definitions: 

  • cooperative: working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit (By the way, an antonym listed for cooperative is “disunited.”)
  • program:  a plan of action

I believe the 1925 messengers got the name right. SBC churches of all sizes willingly working the plan have impacted the world enormously for the Kingdom. Southern Baptists do like to put numbers on almost everything. In fact, cpmissions.net offers some creative bulletin inserts (or posters) they call “EVERY NUMBER HAS A STORY.”  These inserts will inform you that 7,075 prayed to receive Christ through the ministry of SBC endorsed chaplains; that 30=3.7 stands for the 3.7 million meals served by SBC disaster relief volunteers in the 30 days following hurricanes Ike and Gustav; that 101 people groups have been engaged around the world since 2007; and that 18,744 is the number of missionaries, pastors and other ministry leaders that have graduated from SBC seminaries since 2000.

I agree, every number does have a story and Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes (ABCHomes) has its own numbers. Imagine the stories from just the past five years.  For example, we might start with the stories for each of the 795 children that entered one of our three emergency shelters. From these children we would hear stories that begin with tales of abuse, heartbreak and crisis.  However, we would also hear story endings about safe places and loving houseparents. The details of the 10,687 counseling sessions over those same five years are kept confidential by our trusted counselors but each session has its own chapter. One hundred and seventy-nine of our children could share their eternal stories of their salvation experiences in the past five years.

During that same five-year period Cooperative Program funds given by Arkansas Baptist churches provided ABCHomes with $2,711,763 or approximately 14 percent of our income.

Thank you, Arkansas Baptists, for working together willingly to carry out a great plan providing countless stories.

David Perry

Executive Director, Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries