Already experiencing severe financial pressures, the Baptist World Alliance is bracing for a massive loss in funding from its largest member, the Southern Baptist Convention. In February the SBC's Executive Committee cut $125,000 of the denomination's typical $425,000 annual donation to the BWA.
The BWA is an umbrella group for 206 Baptist conventions and unions worldwide. The decision, which must be ratified by SBC messengers in June, hinged on the BWA's decision to invite the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship into the alliance. The fellowship opposes the conservative direction of the SBC.
Last year BWA leaders said they would accept the fellowship only after it declared itself independent from the SBC, which it did last September. The alliance expects to make a final decision about the fellowship at its General Council meeting in July in Seoul, South Korea. In the meantime, BWA officials have apologized to Southern Baptists for any hurt they have caused.
The BWA, which supports 46 million Baptists worldwide, says its budget is also affected by the slumping stock market and decreased support from other members. Facing a $650,000 deficit, BWA leaders in March announced a new budget of $1.68 million, a 20 percent decrease from the 2002 budget.
Denton Lotz, general secretary of the BWA, said the organization can no longer spend its reserves. "Drastic situations therefore require drastic measures," Lotz said.