NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—The Southern Baptist Convention finished its Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal year 6.18 percent below budget, while Cooperative Program receipts for the year were down 4.03 percent and combined CP and designated giving for the year was down 2.52 percent, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page.

Page, in a statement to Baptist Press, nevertheless noted that “much great work is occurring even in difficult circumstances” through cooperative outreach by Southern Baptists in their communities and around the world.

Page’s full statement follows:

“I’m well aware that many persons in our convention are focusing on the downturn of Cooperative Program giving and wondering if this is due to denominational infighting, demographic shifts or the decision of many churches to designate funds in a way that avoids Cooperative Program giving.

“I choose to look at the realities of the bigger picture. I’ve been doing a great deal of travel in the last few weeks and have talked to many state executive directors, entity heads and pastors. Across the board, I’m hearing how the economy of our nation is having dramatic impact on local church giving. Many of our states are hurting desperately as churches have cut back due to economic downturns in the local economies. Some states are facing dramatic cutbacks as unemployment rates have continued to rise in their respective areas. We are facing some of the greatest challenges in a generation.

“With that being said, I think it is time to thank God for that which has occurred and that which has been done. I believe much great work is occurring even in difficult circumstances. I’m convinced that God is able to do what God wants to get done in spite of economic downturn. Let us recognize reality, but rejoice in the great things God is doing! As I cross this nation, I’m seeing lives changed, families saved and churches regain a passion for the lostness of this world. I’m seeing people discuss important issues more than ever before.

“So I encourage all Southern Baptists to be faithful to the call of God, to be tithers to the local church. I encourage all Southern Baptists to be ministering in Jesus’ name to the hurting and lost of their own communities. I also want to encourage pastors and church leaders not to be discouraged but to know that in the good times as well as the bad times our God is able!”

A total of $191,763,152.87 in CP gifts was received by the Southern Baptist Convention during the fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010—down by $8,058,937.31 (4.03 percent) from the previous fiscal year’s $199,822,090.18. (During the 2008-09 fiscal year, CP gifts were 2.23 percent, or $4,563,502.45, below the 2007-08 fiscal year.)

During the 2009-10 fiscal year, an additional $191,324,526.08 in designated gifts brought the fiscal year’s overall giving for national and international missions and ministry to spread the Gospel to $383,087,678.95, or 2.52 percent below the previous year’s $392,998,040.82 combined figure.

For the month of September, CP receipts totaled $13,544,738.87. Designated year-end giving of $191,324,526.08 was $1,851,424.56, or 0.96 percent, below gifts of $193,175,950.64 for the previous fiscal year. A total of $4,016,137.08 in designated gifts was received in September.

For the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget, the year-end total of $191,763,152.87 was $12,622,439.76 (or 6.18 percent) below the $204,385,592.63 budgeted to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America.

The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.

The total includes receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2009-10 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.

Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund and other special gifts.

State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.

Page, who became Executive Committee president Oct. 1, is a former Southern Baptist Convention president and successor to Morris H. Chapman, who retired Sept. 30 after 18 years as EC president.