BIRMINGHAM (TAB) — Samford President Andrew Westmoreland addressed Alabama Baptists during the report of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions executive director Rick Lance’s report to convention messengers this afternoon. He made a surprise announcement related to Cooperative Program funding for the Alabama Baptist university located in Birmingham.
“We come to this meeting every year and we celebrate the great work God is doing. We hear compelling stories about what’s happening in individual churches and what’s happening with the gifts that come through the Cooperative Program.
“We celebrate all of that and we are all grateful for all of it. Then we come to the hard reality that our gifts are not keeping up. It’s hard to make the state convention budget every year. I see this, you see it as well. … No one came to me and said you’ve got to do this … but as president of Samford I have to look at the same set of facts you look at as you examine the budget. I see the needs. We all see the needs,” Westmoreland said. “While all of our ministries across the board have equal value, I have to admit as president of Samford that all of our ministries do not have equal access to resources.
“I can’t in good faith look at this picture and leave these meetings year after year and say we got ours so the world’s OK. I can’t do that. … Over a period of years — five, six or seven years — Samford will act unilaterally to reduce our CP (allotment) by half, which means about $2 million (total) and between $300,000 and $400,000 a year less for us (for the next few years),” he said.
“It is important for us to plan realistically without theater, to wait for some type of … event to occur. We have more important things to do in Alabama Baptist life than to get to the point where we worry and fight over who gets the [dollars].
“I’m saying now that we want to be a part of being ahead of all of this and we want to help. That is not to say that we do not have our needs. This is a step of faith that in some measure God will help us replenish that which we are relinquishing. … In no way am I saying, just go on and don’t worry about Samford [saying] Samford will be fine. We will be but it’s because I have faith in God that Samford will be fine,” Westmoreland said. “Dr. Lance, you have friends at Samford University — people who are committed to this work, people who will be committed regardless of the money. We love you and we love Alabama Baptists.”
No budgetary decisions related to Samford’s announcement were made during today’s state convention annual meeting. These decisions will be made at a future time.