JACKSONVILLE (FBC)-For the fifth time in the past six years, gifts to the 2006 Maguire State Mission Offering surpassed the $1 million mark as Florida Baptists gave $1,066,103.66 to support mission and ministry causes in the state, the second highest amount in the offering's history.
"We view $1 million as a benchmark in giving," said Don Hepburn, director of the Florida Baptist Convention's Public Relations Division, which develops the statewide offering's annual promotion. "Going beyond that mark is a clear indication that Florida Baptists are embracing their state as a mission field and are serious about reaching the 12 million people in the state who do not claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."
The state mission offering supports special mission and ministry projects in the state which are not funded through Cooperative Program sources, including site loans for new churches, disaster relief and Florida's partnerships with Haiti, Cuba and Brazil.
In actuality, the 2006 offering received $1,131,252. But the proceeds were affected by a $65,149 accounting error made by two Florida Baptist churches, which designated their 2005 Cooperative Program receipts to the 2005 state mission offering. When the mistakes were discovered in February 2006, the monies were adjusted, leaving the 2006 state mission offering account with a $65,149 deficit.
Even with the deficit amount included, gifts to the 2006 annual offering fell short of the $1.4 million goal and of the record $1,178,303 received in 2005.
However, the number of churches participating in the offering increased to 1,102 in 2006 from 1,046 churches in 2005.
"We are continually educating our churches about the mission we as the people of God have in our own state," said Hepburn, "and believe the increase in participating churches demonstrates the educational process is working."
As a result of the shared receipts distribution, $69,506 in offering receipts will be disbursed among 24 Baptist associations. This incentive-based program allows local associations to set a goal for their churches and when the goal is met, receive a pro-rated share.
Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, home church of offering namesakes Clyde and John Maguire, led all Florida Baptist churches in giving to the 2006 offering, earmarking $20,205. John Maguire served as executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention from 1945 to 1967, overseeing a time of unprecedented growth of Florida Baptists.
Southside Pastor Wayne Stacey said the Great Commission drives the church's generosity, which is the basis for the church's mission statement "to lead people to become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ."
"Making disciples involves two things: baptizing and teaching," he noted. "I am particularly pleased that the state mission offering supports the work of Florida Baptists in achieving both of these Kingdom enterprises."
Southside's WMU Assistant Director Vanita Baldwin said to promote the offering, mission leaders used the posters and clip art provided by the state convention and showed a portion of the state video in five adult Sunday School departments, allowing time for discussion. Materials were also utilized in Mission Friends, GAs, RAs, Acteens and Women on Mission organizations.
Additionally the church asked John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention to speak on Florida's mission challenge. His message was well received by the congregation, Baldwin reported.
Panama City's First Baptist Church gave the state's second highest amount, gathering $15,759 in support of Florida's mission needs.
"I like to think the main reason for our generous giving is that evangelism is the priority of our church. We emphasize that evangelism cannot be separated from missions," said Pastor Craig Conner. "I also think our missions teaching with our children in Mission Friends, RAs and GAs prepares a mindset to our mission giving.
"A key to our state missions giving is the emphasis we place on the Acts 1:8 model. As we attempt to go into all the world we must not neglect our state. Success at home is the platform for success abroad."
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