Year’s recap proves missions priorities

PHOENIX – Southern Baptists supported 5,364 international missionaries serving in 15 regions reaching 1,497 people groups. Half of the 1,032 newly-appointed missionaries serve in World A in restricted locations where there is limited access to the gospel.

Over 99 percent of SBC missionaries had no problem signing an affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 last year and those who did are seeking other employment.

Missionaries baptized more than 421,436 new believers and planted 8,369 churches last year?a 42.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Southern Baptists are giving at record levels to mission endeavors, but those resources are not keeping pace with the number of new missionaries awaiting appointment.

More than 30,000 volunteers participated in short-term missions overseas, including 4,000 college students and 2,500 high school students.

Southern Baptists started 1,788 new congregations in the U.S., an average of almost five new churches each day. 5,204 missionaries and more than 300,000 volunteers served in missions in North America.

Southern Baptists feed more meals in disaster situations under Red Cross auspices than any private or religious group in the nation. Last year in the U.S. alone, there were more than 15,500 professions of faith stemming from hunger and relief efforts. Another 283 projects in 54 countries were funded overseas.

3,287 chaplains serve with the endorsement of the SBC and volunteer chaplains in the justice system surpassed the 1,000 mark. There have been 17,850 professions of faith reported by Southern Baptist chaplains last year.

Researchers access 6,283 separate materials housed in the Southern Baptist Historical Archives and Library, including books, annuals, archives, pamphlets, microfilm, photos, history files, recordings, periodicals and church and association histories. The website experienced 76,953 sessions.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission tracked developments and gathered information on nearly 900 issues, such as fetal stem cell research, divorce, drugs, pornography, homosexuality and education.

The potential listening, viewing and readership audience from media interviews of ERLC staff surpassed 100 million people. More than 1.5 million listeners heard the ERLC broadcast weekly on more than 600 radio stations. The three-hour, live, call-in program Richard Land Live is available every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on more than 50 stations.

Woman’s Missionary Union coordinated stateside housing for more than 2,000 missionary families in 543 houses offered by local churches.

More than 700 volunteers from 24 states gave 19,145 hours of service at one or more of the MissionsFEST or FamilyFEST projects of WMU.

The Annuity Board increased the number of low-income retired ministers and their spouses receiving direct financial assistance to 1,536, nearly doubling the previous year.

Over 90 percent of insurance claims presented to the Annuity Board are taken care of within 10 days. Forty percent of the $110 million worth of medical claims paid out last year were for preventable diseases.

The six seminaries operated by the SBC prepare more than 14,236 students for ministry at home and around the world. Another 4,292 lay ministers study through 451 extension centers.

The Southern Baptist Foundation ended the fiscal year with assets under management of $206.3 million, down approximately seven percent from the prior year. In spite of declining earnings on assets managed, the Fixed Income Fund enjoyed strong results.

About 6,795 churches have used LifeWay’s FAITH evangelism strategy. In 2001, approximately 3.2 million people were enrolled in VBS with more than 109,000 decisions to accept Christ. Over 100,000 guests were served at the Ridgecrest, N.C. and Glorieta, N.M., conference centers leading to more than 2,900 spiritual decisions.

LifeWay Christian stores served more than 98,000 people and churches in 110 countries through their internet site and maintain 5.7 million accounts through their stores.

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