Today I had the chance to interview Darren Casper, who is overseeing the Show Me Partnership fund for the churches affected by the MBCEB's decision to withdraw financial support for Acts 29 church plants here in MO. He graciously gave me an update on the funding issues and his opinions on the future of Southern Baptist and Acts 29 Network relations.
Here is the paraphrase of our Q&A:
Q: What is the current goal of the fund?
Q: What are the total contributions to the fund to date?
A: $14,000. So we are about $10,000 away from meeting the goal.
Q: What churches are receiving the financial help?
A: There are two. Believer's Church in Hannibal, MO and Karis Community Church in Columbia, MO. They had conversations with the MBC to try to restore their funding as budgeted for them prior to the EB's vote but were unsuccessful. This was unfortunate, because these churches in no way violated any agreements with the MBC. The other Acts 29 churches are not affected by the defunding.
Q: Are these churches already receiving funding as of 2008?
A: Yes. As a matter of fact, their first checks were mailed out today.
Q: Who has contributed to the Show Me fund?
A: The St. Louis Metro Baptist Association started the fund with $5,000. A couple of individual churches within the Association have given some in addition to that startup amount. There have also been churches in Florida, Washington, and Texas that have made donations as well. Specifically, the church headed by Tom Ascol (who leads the Founders Ministries) in FL has contributed.
Q: How many churches and individuals together have made donations?
A: Eight total.
Q: On the local church level, what has been the response/attitude toward the MBCEB's decision to defund Acts 29 church plants?
A: There are 140 churches in the Association. I would say that a vast majority of churches in the association are disappointed with the timing of the decision. It would have been less disappointing if the EB made such a vote after fulfilling the current budgeted committment to these churches.
Q: In your opinion, do MBC churches understand the Acts 29 Network?
A: No, they do not, and this has been a problem in MO Baptist life.
Q: Will the Show Me fund continue on and help future Acts 29 church plants in MO?
A: Our first priority is to make up the shortfall for Believer's and Karis. Beyond that, we'll just have to see. The Association does give to four Acts 29 churches already.
As for what does the situation here in MO means for Southern Baptists in general, Casper is optimistic that SBC leaders in other states and nationally will weigh the partnership issue more carefully.
I hope so.
What the immediate need is for more than eight parties to donate to help fund Believer's and Karis through the year. Donations can be sent to
Show Me Partnership
c/o Darren Casper
St. Louis Metro Baptist Association
3859 Fee Fee Rd.
Bridgeton, MO 63044