Southern Baptist Foreign Missionaries Drop by Nearly 1,000

“IMB is now in a much healthier financial position,” International Mission Board President David Platt tells trustees on Feb. 24, 2016, during their plenary session. “Due to increased giving from Southern Baptist churches, Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving are trending upward,” he reported. (Photo by Lexie Bennett, courtesy of IMB)
“IMB is now in a much healthier financial position,” International Mission Board President David Platt tells trustees on Feb. 24, 2016, during their plenary session. “Due to increased giving from Southern Baptist churches, Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving are trending upward,” he reported. (Photo by Lexie Bennett, courtesy of IMB)

One out of five Southern Baptist missionaries overseas — or nearly 1,000 total — have volunteered to leave their posts to help the denomination’s mission board deal with its financial straits. That’s in addition to the departure of a third of the staff of the International Mission Board, also mostly through a voluntary program.

“Obviously, this number exceeds what we needed,” said its president, David Platt, at a trustee meeting Wednesday (Feb. 24). But he said the departure of 983 missionaries means the mission board will be in improved financial health.

In August, leaders of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination announced that the board would need to cut up to 800 employees, after spending a total of $210 million more than it had received since 2010.

The number of missionaries now stands at about 3,800 and there are about 300 staffers, said IMB spokeswoman Julie McGowan. In August, there were 4,800 missionaries and 450 staff. Officials had said the missionary force needed to be reduced to 4,200 to balance the budget.

Platt said that although “these brothers and sisters will be missed,” it is time to turn to the future and the board’s goal of taking the gospel to those who have not heard it.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Adelle Banks

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