Magazine article The Christian Century

Southern Baptists' Number of Overseas Missionaries Drops by Nearly 1,000

Magazine article The Christian Century

Southern Baptists' Number of Overseas Missionaries Drops by Nearly 1,000

Article excerpt

One out of five Southern Baptist missionaries overseas--or nearly 1,000 total--have volunteered to leave their posts to help the denomination's mission board deal with its financial straits. That's in addition to the departure of a third of the staff of the International Mission Board, also mostly through a voluntary program.

"This number exceeds what we needed," said IMB president David Platt at a trustee meeting February 24. But he said the departure of 983 missionaries means the mission board will be in improved financial health.

Last August, leaders of the nation's largest Protestant denomination announced that the board would need to cut up to 800 employees, after spending a total of $210 million more than it had received since 2010.

The number of missionaries now stands at about 3,800, and there are about 300 staffers, said IMB spokeswoman Julie McGowan. In August, there were 4,800 missionaries and 450 staff. Officials had said the missionary force needed to be reduced to 4,200 to balance the budget. …

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