Monday, January 7, 2008

Highview Baptist Church Corrects "Erroneous News Reports"

Here's the Statement from HBC Pastor Kevin Ezell:

Highview Baptist Church has received numerous inquiries from around the world about our giving to missions and missions-related causes, and we are more than happy to address those questions.

As a church, we are committed to The Southern Baptist Convention and to its mission of reaching people for Jesus Christ in our community, our state, our country, and all over the world. Being “Great Commission Focused” is one of our core values. Our church has a history of missions- related giving and of sending career missionaries and volunteers to the field. We are more excited and more committed to missions now than at any time in our church’s history.

In the wake of various erroneous news reports, we do think it’s important that we clear up any misunderstanding about Highview’s contribution to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings.

In 2006, Highview gave a total of $724,984 to missions. In the Associated Church Profile (ACP) we submitted to the SBC in 2006, we simply chose not to specifically categorize our missions giving. Frankly, at the time, we did not think such categorization was necessary to promote our church.

In 2007, we gave $836,681 dollars to missions. Last year, we did specifically categorize our contribution in the ACP report. Highview gave $64,158 to the Lottie Moon fund and $13,752 to Annie Armstrong.

As for our Cooperative Program giving, Highview has chosen to give the majority of our cooperative funds directly to the SBC instead of funneling the funds through the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The reason is simple: The KBC retains 64% of those funds, and we want to ensure that more of our dollars went directly to evangelism, missions and other programs that Highview supports.

Highview Baptist Church understands that some of the questions about our missions giving come following the announcement that one of our teaching pastors, Dr. Albert Mohler, will be nominated for the presidency of the SBC. We are proud to have Dr. Mohler and his family as active members of our church.

Our giving, our going, our praying, and our serving has always been out of a desire to make Jesus’ name famous all over the world.

Missions and evangelism are at the core of Highview Baptist Church, so in the wake of some misinformation, we thought it necessary to set the record straight. To that end, we are attaching our 2008 plan for missions giving, which our congregation unanimously approved in November of 2007.

Imagine my surprise to learn that the anti-Mohler forces have promulgated erroneous information in their rush to judgment. Imagine how simply they could have made a phone call or email to discover the truth. Imagine my anticipation to see what they will say next.

Update: HBC has established a new campus across the Ohio River in Indiana. It is my understanding that the 2008 CP money from HBC will be going to support missions via the traditional CP arrangement, but through the Indiana Baptist Convention rather than the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Subsequent Update: The fine folks over at SBC Today have posted the PDF for Highview's 2008 "Millions for Missions" brochure here.


Les Puryear said...


Thanks for the update. I still have some questions about the LM and AA giving, but I won't direct those to you.

Your post did make me curious about something else. Why does Highview not want to support the KY state convention? Are there political issues there they do not support?

Just curious.


Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

Thanks for posting this statement. My heart breaks for Pastor Ezzel and the congregation at Highview. They were placed in this position and their support of the SBC called into question when a simple investigation would have issued truth. Instead they were maligned for nothing more than political expediency.

Being from a state that has had CP giving issues, I understand when some of our leading churches bypass the State Convention and give directly to Nashville. Praise God that we are taking steps to change that here in NC.


Bart Barber said...


In the statement their pastor said that they just didn't like such a high percentage staying within Kentucky. I imagine (MY imaginations here) that they are happier to see their in-state missions money going to a genuinely pioneer area like Indiana, with more of their CP money going national and international. It is not just a wild guess...a look at their church planting priorities reveals a passionate heart for pioneer areas in the US and for a lost world.

Bart Barber said...


Isn't it encouraging to see how this church, even while asserting their local church autonomy, has demonstrated a persistent desire to participate in the Cooperative Program, finally discovering a creative solution for doing so.

Les Puryear said...


I can understand the issue with so little of CP money actually reaching the SBC.


Scott Gordon said...


Greetings, my brother, from sunny KC, MO! It might do your heart well to know that your post is making waves in the MBC.

Keep up the good work and let the truth be known!


Anonymous said...


I would have a couple of questions - and mind you I am not being rabid here, just questions.

The church releases a statement about CP giving that reflects "real dollar" amounts. Do these amounts coincide with the reported 3% of undesignated gifts to the Cooperative Program as first reported? If so, are the various reports being really disingenuous, or does it just depend on which end of the spectrum one wants to spin it from? For example, my congregation gives 12.5% to the Cooperative Program through our state Convention. But if you whittle that down to real dollars, we only give approximately $15,000 to the Cooperative Program. Comparatively speaking, we give 'little' to the Cooperative Program in terms of "real dollars". At the same time, we could be considered giving a higher percentage (at a much greater sacrifice) of our receipts to Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist causes. In my view of such things taken from Mark 12, it is not the "amount" that is given, but the "level of sacrifice" that the Lord commends in any case. At what level of sacrifice do our churches support the Cooperative Program? It just seems from this perspective of the big church/small church divide that large churches want to show off the dollar amounts when actually in terms of actual sacrifice, they have given little in comparison to the small churches that make up our convention. FYI our church gives that sacrificial percentage, goes on mission trips, and performs missions in our community for Christ and His glory and pays my salary all from our church budget.

Another comment as a question: Does the staff at Dr. Mohler's church receive matching funds from their state convention into their annuity accounts? If so, how can they justify not giving to the mission endeavors of their state convention? I do not "assume" the answer here - just wondering.

Rob Ayers

Bart Barber said...


The CP percentages from the table would be correct. If I understand Pastor Ezell correctly, those dollars represent the amount of money sent through the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The reason that those figures were so low was because HBC had diverted money straight to the EC. Thus, Highview does support the KBC at some level (which would be the answer to the matching-dollars question, I would think).

Regarding the level of sacrifice, I'd say that a half-million dollars out of six million or so is pretty sacrificial.

Our church, like yours, is much smaller and giving sacrificially as well. I embrace HBC as a partner with us.

Anonymous said...

Brother Bart,

One would assume that 800,000 dollars in missions giving would be sacrificial. Out of a budget of 6,000,000 that equates to approximately 13.3% in "total missions giving." I would assume that this means CP (through Kentucky, and through the EB) gifts to the LM and AA offerings, community missions, mission fronts, church plants in pioneer areas, etc.) That is respectable and worthy.

My problem remains though with the message of leadership which is "give to Cooperative Program through the time tested way of your state convention" and then our "leading churches" go about circumnavigating the process - in this case one of our Seminary Presidents is a "teaching pastor" at one (are there any small local struggling congregations who have a need of a teaching pastor? Why do our leadership (I note that Dr. Mohler is not the only one) find themselves in places where there is a multitude of talent while others go a begging? But I digress...). I respect autonomy, and revel in the notion that this church decided to pave a way the suited how the Lord was leading them. At the same time if every church in our denomination decided this, then our structure of working together would collapse under it's own weight. "Leading churches" need to lead by example. I for one find that term a bit elitist and condescending to the small church. It tells the rest of us "we do what we want because we are big." I seem to remember Jesus saying, "those who lead will serve all" and "to much is given, much is required."

Bart, this is what happens when a process to select a leader of a Christ filled organization is parlayed into a heated political process. One cannot announce six months in advance that they inteed to seek the Presidency, and then not to expect inspection and criticism and the occasional hand grenade. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." With the candidacy of Dr. Mohler being a fairly divisive one (I did not make it so, I am just observing that it is so), it probably will get very heated.

Peace my friend. By the way, thank you for steering me toward the HealthSaver 2600 and the HSA. I was reading your blog about the time to re-up, and did a little research like you suggested, and now am firmly a member of taking our health insurance into a new world.

God bless,

Rob Ayers

Bart Barber said...


Of all the churches I have ever served, the one most prone to bypass the CP and do things its own way was the smallest. I would imagine that a WHOLE LOT of our newer (and often smaller) church plants are taking a more creative approach toward their missions funding.

But, so are some larger churches. The problem illustrated in Highview's case, IMHO, is the gigantic disconnect between the SBC and some of our state conventions. Some state conventions have "pushed back" against the rightward movement of the SBC by siphoning more and more money away from national and international causes.

The "Cooperative" in Cooperative Program most significantly indicates a cooperative agreement between conventions and entities at the state and national levels. The churches were cooperating long before 1925. The CP eliminated fundraising conflicts among agents of the various Baptist colleges, seminaries, hospitals, conventions, missionary boards, etc. Thus, the CP works best when there is a unity in purpose and worldview among our entities at all levels.

Such is not the case today. In the area of education, the teaching worldview of educational institutions at the national level is quite distinct from the teaching worldview of almost all of the educational institutions at the state level (and they'll both tell you so).

The result? People of one persuasion are (in many cases) trying to give to their state convention and bypass the SBC. People of another persuasion are (in many cases) trying to give to the national convention and bypass their state convention.

The remedy would be the restoration of a united worldview and purpose to the whole structure. Any infirmities in that unity will, as day follows night, result in a systemic illness in the Cooperative Program.

Glad the HSA is working out for you. I got my statement the other day: $1,788. Whoopie!

Lucas Defalco said...


If I am not mistaken the KBC is one of the few and may be the only state convention that continues in a power struggle between theological liberals/moderates and conservatives. That may be part of what influenced Highview's decision to bypass state CP giving and going directly to the SBC.

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