SHOCCO SPRINGS, Ala. - 2002 was a year of record low donations. Hundreds of charities felt the cold stab of inflation and lowered incomes, as patrons were no longer able to give. However, in the midst of the charitable tragedies, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering came as a blessing for the North American Mission Board. Southern Baptists contributed a record $49.25 million to the NAMB throughout the year - a 2 percent increase from the 2001 donations.
During the annual Woman's Missionary Union Executive board meeting, Jan 11-14 at the Shocco Springs Baptist Assembly in Alabama, the NAMB's president Robert E. Reccord announced the total sum: a $49,245,244 2002 offering that followed total receipts of $48,300,018 in 2001.
"With the drop in income last year from our reserves and FamilyNet television ad sales, it was only the faithfulness of Southern Baptists through the [Annie Armstrong] Offering and the Cooperative Program that kept missions viable in the economic challenges which we still face," Reccord said.
The volunteer effort of thousands of dedicated pastors, WMU workers and other local church volunteers keep the promotional costs to an astonishing 1 percent of the total amount raised, Reccord reported. Even that amount, however, is paid for by other sources, thereby allocating 100 percent of Annie Armstrong receipts directly for supporting missionaries and their work.
"This is truly a miraculous offering," Reccord said.
The national effort began in 1895, when the WMU wanted to help support SBC missionaries. The offering was named in honor of the founder of WMU, Annie Armstrong. More than $920 million has been collected since it's beginning.
The 2003 offering will be promoted in most Southern Baptist churches this spring between the March 2-9 Week of Prayer for North American Missions and Easter on April 20. The 2003 national goal is $53 million. This offering is to supply more than 40 percent of the NAMB's budget.
With over 5,000 missionaries dispatched throughout Northern America, the NAMB works to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to assist churches in the United States and Canada in ministry.
By Albert H. Lee