Many of you are having a big impact and don’t even know it. So I am going to use Cooperative Program Week as the occasion to let you know how. This is the week that Southern Baptists, the network of churches with which Hope has voluntarily chosen to partnership, celebrate the Cooperative Program. In 1919 a group of churches realized that they could have a much bigger worldwide impact if they pooled their mission resources. The vehicle they created to do that was named the Cooperative Program. Almost 100 years later it is still going strong with more than 45,000 churches across North America participating, with giving levels reaching close to $500,000,000. From that, the amount used to fund national and international initiatives is about $180,000,000. The remainder is used by the states to resource churches, train leaders, support orphanages, schools, and hospitals, staff ministries on college campuses and more.
So each week, when you put your financial gift in the offering plate, or when you give on line, 13.5% of your gift goes automatically to missions. If Hope meets its budget for its 2015/2016, and we are a little behind, that amount would be a little more than $90,000. Now, not all of that goes to the same place. In fact, 6% of your offering goes to the Cooperative Program, which funds mission work in New England, North America, and around the world. A little of it is used to support 7 seminaries so that there will be an ample supply of trained church leaders to serve the Kingdom growth.
After that, 3% of your offering goes to support a network of churches and missions in Central and Western Massachusetts. One of the biggest values that this network offers is support to small churches when they are going through times of transition or are looking for partners to meet specific needs. The other 3.5% is directly invested in mission work by Hope Chapel, specifically by the Missions Team. Right now we support missionaries in Burkina Faso and Tunisia, and help a missionary in Cambodia periodically. We also support two churches in Worcester, two Crisis Pregnancy centers, Young Life, a missionary who specializes in ministry to the deaf, a missionary working with college students, Racing with Jesus Ministries, and a number of mission projects that Hope Chapel is directly involved in. And I am sure we missed something.
So in the providence of God, your gifts are mingled with the gifts of millions of believers and make their way around the world. What you give makes a difference, a real difference. Take joy in that. And give generously and cheerfully.