t was an emotional time for me on more than one
level. Just a few days earlier, I had received an invitation to come to the
newly formed North American Mission Board and join Southern Baptists in the
work of evangelism and church planting.
Though I was a bivocational church planter and a director of missions son, I
was struggling with the thought of moving away from my loving parents, my
exciting new church and my rewarding career in the Chicago suburbs. Georgia,
missions and the task of reaching the peoples of North America with the gospel
all seemed very far away.
As if she knew what I was thinking, my mom slid a small piece of paper
across the table to me. "Thought you might be interested in this," she said
softly. "It was in Grandmothers trunk."
I picked it up and read the faded ink, aged onto a yellowed paper card.
Across the top it read "The Baptist 75 Million Campaign." It was a pledge card
dated June 23, 1923. In even more faded ink handwriting, the amount of $25 was
filled in, payable over a five-year period. It was signed by Effie Hooksmy
"I dont know if you can fully grasp the sacrifice that card represented for
my grandmother," my mom said. "That pledge probably came from her egg money." She went on
to explain that the only real spending money that rural women like her
grandmother had in those days was the pennies theyd receive each week from the
extra eggs they would gather or the milk the family cow would give. "That was
her commitment card," my mom continued. "For years, most or all of any money
she would have had to spend on herself went instead as her personal sacrifice
to the cause of missions."
A personal sacrifice to the cause of missions. This was hitting
pretty close to home for me. I thought, maybe I could keep what I was feeling
more on a level of intellectual curiosity. "What did this Baptist 75 Million
Campaign have to do with the Cooperative Program?" I sidestepped.
I should have remembered that my mom was not only a school librarian who
loved to research things but a blue-blood Womans Missionary Union leader from
way back. "Well, this campaign was really the foundation for the Cooperative
Program. It came right after World War I, when thousands of Baptist soldiers
were returning from Europe and the Near East.
It was as if the war bond drives and the mission to Europe had given
everyone a glimpse of what was possible when shared convictions focused shared
resources on a shared mission. It became a time when faithful people were
motivated to do their part, often at great sacrifice, for the greater good of
spreading the gospel."
"So, when was this campaign, and how did it lead to the Cooperative
Program?" I asked.
"Well, it ended in 1924, so it must have been 1919 to 1924," my mom
continued. "The Cooperative Program began the next year, in 1925. Remember the
marker out in front of your grandmas church?"
I recalled that the First Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, which my other
grandmotheron my dads sideattended for more than 60 years, had a historical
marker commemorating the beginning of the Cooperative Programin 1925. My
parents had pointed it out to me many times when we attended church there with
my grandma. Suddenly I was feeling surrounded by faithful, missions-minded
family members both past and present. I decided to keep the interview with my
mom going, perhaps hoping that this light dose of mission education I was
receiving would appease the mission call I felt stirring. I guess I didnt
realize how often one precedes the other.
"Mom, this pledge says paid in full June 23, 1923, more than a year before
the end of the campaign. I wonder why she paid off her pledge earlymaybe times
got better for them?"
"No, I dont think so." My moms tone was serious, almost reverent. "You see,
in March of that same year, their house burned to the ground. This trunk were
going through now, her dowry trunk, was one of the few things they rescued from
n the deepest part of me, I was overwhelmed. I
pictured my great-grandmothers hard-working hands collecting eggs, selling them
by the roadside and then setting the pennies from her labor aside in a special
I pictured her tear-filled eyes and strong but trembling chin as she stood
watching her home burn. And I pictured a very proud momentfor her, and now for
meas she wrote "paid in full" across her pledge card.
I thanked my mom for sharing the card and its legacy with me, and humbly
asked if I could keep it. A few weeks later, I came across the card again,
while unboxing some hand-packed treasures. It was just after our move to
Georgia, to be on mission through the North American Mission Boardone
of the places Effie Hooks would have been proud to send her egg money.
I cant believe it was by coincidence that as I wrote the words of this
article, the following song lyrics came through my stereo speakers:
After all our hopes and dreams have
come and gone,
And our children sift through all weve
May the clues that they discover, and
the memories they uncover,
Become the light that leads them to the
road we each must find.
Oh, may all who come behind us find
May the fire of our devotion light
May the footprints that we leave lead
them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find
Nor can I believe it a coincidence that my 10-year-old son came to hug me
good night as I wrote and listened, and asked me why I was crying.
All I could do was look down at Effie Hooks 75-year-old pledge card and tell
him, "Son, I just want you, and your grandkids, to find me faithful too."
And so I will be on missionpraying, giving and goinguntil my
pledge, too, is paid in full.
Nate Adams is vice president of Mobilization and Mission Education at
the North American Mission Board, where he has served since August
"Find Us Faithful." Words and music by Jon Mohr. Copyright 1987,
Jonathan Mark Music, Birdwing Music, all rights reserved. Used by
Reprinted with permission, SBCLife May 1999. SBCLife
is a publication of the SBC Executive Committee.
Growing up as a pastors son, I cant remember a time when The Cooperative
Program (CP) wasnt talked about in church. But I have to admit that for a long
time my understanding of what it is and how it works was, well,
Ive discovered Im not alone. Many people today who give faithfully through
their church have limited knowledge of what The Cooperative Program is, where
it came from and how effectively it accomplishes such a broad range of
worldwide ministry. And thats a shame, because cooperative giving and
cooperative missions have not only been hallmarks of what it means to be
Southern Baptist, they have by Gods grace been one of our most incredible
strengths for many years.
In fact, this year Southern Baptists are celebrating 75 years of faithful
and effective ministry through The Cooperative Program. Its a system that has
produced accessible, high-quality theological education, courageous ethical
ministries and one of the largest and finest coordinated missionary forces in
the world, and in the history of the church.
hile The Cooperative Program is now well-known and
well-established among Southern Baptist churches, there was a day when
cooperative giving was a bold, new idea.
From 1919 to 1924, Southern Baptists participated in an unprecedented giving
campaign that became the foundation for todays ongoing Cooperative Program.
Prior to that time, special fund drives were common twice a year, one for
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes and the other for needs in the
But by 1918, the pressing physical and spiritual needs of post-World War I
Europe, as well as other missions, education and benevolence causes led the
convention to look for new models of cooperative funding. In the face of
worsening financial difficulties, SBC President J.B. Gambrell challenged
Southern Baptists at the 1919 Con-vention "to adopt a program of work
commensurate with reasonable demands upon us" (SBC Annual, 1919). The 4,200
messengers voted, without dissent, to undertake The Baptist 75 Million
Campaign, and members in every church were asked to sign pledge cards and give
over a five-year period.
Leaders such as George W. Truett, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, and
L.R. Scarborough, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,
played key roles. The Womans Missionary Union accepted $15 million as its
campaign quota and appointed Mrs. W.J. Neel of Georgia as its campaign
director. The 18 state conventions each accepted goals ranging from $250,000 in
New Mexico to $16 million in Texas. When the pledges were totaled, an amazing
$92,630,923 had been committed.
Supporting 5,025 missionaries throughout North America, in
cooperation with State Conventions
Due to economic problems (cotton dropped from 40 cents a pound to 10 cents a
pound) and controversies, actual receipts from the campaign totaled only
$58,591,713. But that amount given over a five-year period represented between
80 percent and 90 percent as much as Baptists had given in their first 74 years
of existence since 1845! In addition, October services for "calling out the
called" resulted in more than 20,000 volunteers for ministry and mission
service. About 3,000 new churches were organized, and eight new foreign mission
fields were entered.
Because Southern Baptist agencies had begun planning and spending according
to the amount pledged in the campaign rather than actual receipts, leaders were
soon forced to consider a successor plan to The Baptist 75 Million Campaign.
They had reason to do so with optimism. The unprecedented cooperative giving
from 1919 to 1924 had raised the sights of Southern Baptists, giving them a
vision of what autonomous churches could do together for the cause of Christ.
They had experienced the spiritual blessing that sacrificial giving brings and
developed a pattern for ongoing cooperation.
When Southern Baptists met in Memphis in 1925 and formally began The
Cooperative Program, it was in effect a way of continuing the ongoing benefits
they had experienced during The Baptist 75 Million Campaign.
Today The Cooperative Program is the primary method the SBC uses to support
more than 9,700 missionaries at home and around the world. Through it, churches
support the work of their state convention and the SBC. Funds received through
CP are linked with money from more than 40,000 other churches.
Last year (October 98-September 99), Southern Baptists gave a record
$43,550,000 through The Cooperative Program.
Reprinted with permission, SBCLife, May 1999. SBCLife
is a publication of the SBC Executive Committee.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC