Some churches shatter Annie Offering goals

BRANFORD, Fla. (BP) — When Pastor Brett Patterson set a $2,000 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO) goal for Hatch Bend Baptist Church earlier this year, it seemed like a bit of a stretch. That was double the church’s goal from recent years.

By week two of the church’s AAEO emphasis, that goal was already in the rear-view mirror. The Branford, Fla., church collected more than $15,000 for the offering.

“We just give glory to the Lord for allowing us to be a part of it,” Patterson said. “I mean we were just a small part of what He’s doing globally – but we want to be that part. I thank the Lord that we have people who are obedient to give. Some gave large amounts; some gave small amounts, but it all adds up to take the Gospel around the world.”

As Southern Baptist churches throughout North America exit the Easter season, many are reporting better than expected giving to AAEO. Last year, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) reported the largest Annie offering in its history – more than $70 million – making it the sixth record-breaking total in the last seven years.

While giving to AAEO hits a crescendo during the Easter season, churches receive the money throughout the year. NAMB typically publishes those totals during the last quarter of the year.

The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions is one of two national Southern Baptist offerings and is named after the trailblazing Maryland woman who helped organize the first national Southern Baptist campaign to raise funds for missions. The other is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, named for the ardent missionary to China who spurred Southern Baptists toward reaching the lost overseas.

One hundred percent of both offerings go directly to missionaries and resources for the field.

Rob Pochek, the senior pastor of the historic First Baptist Church Park Street in Charlottesville, Va., said he appreciates the intentionality he has seen from NAMB in how is uses the resources provided by Southern Baptists. That intentionality was one of the reasons he wanted to lead his church to give generously to this year’s AAEO.  

“There’s a very focused, intentional effort, that everything’s about the Gospel,” Pochek said. “One of the ways in which that gets demonstrated is through church planting.”

First Baptist Charlottesville has a long history of missions involvement, stretching back to being the home church of Lottie Moon. Because of its connection to Moon, the church had long emphasized the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Pochek noticed that the church’s Annie giving was quite low when he was going through the numbers for the Annual Church Profile.

“It was just mortifying to me that they were so low, especially compared to Lottie,” Pochek said “So we just decided to set a goal. We didn’t know where to start at that, so we just picked a number – $10,000.”

To Pochek’s surprise, the church more than doubled that goal, collecting more than $22,000 so far.

“I fundamentally believe that we can do more together than any one of our churches can do alone,” Pochek said. “And so I believe that the offering is one way to do that.”

Pochek said that while the church isn’t directly planting a church right now, members know when they give, they’re partnering with other Southern Baptists to start churches across North America.

Referencing a quote from famed Baptist missionary William Carey, Pochek noted: “There are some times when we go down into mines, and there are some times when we hold the ropes for others. This is an opportunity for us to hold the ropes until we get to go down into the mines ourselves.”

Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., has also had a long history of missions. In its 114-year history, the church has planted 11 other churches.

But when Pastor David Crowther came to Immanuel in November 2019, it had been in debt for 60 years, which had significantly hampered the church’s ability to give to missions. In 2022, Immanuel finally paid off that debt.

With the debt in the past, Crowther began encouraging the church to be more generous to Southern Baptist missions, starting with the LMCO. After seeing how well the church contributed to the Christmas offering, Crowther decided the church should promote the AAEO heavily in 2024.

Immanuel set a conservative goal of $5,000. To everyone’s surprise, the church’s giving more than tripled that goal.

“We feel we can do more together than our church can individually,” Crowther said. “There are many wonderful denominations that send missionaries. We celebrate every one of them that are preaching Christ. But we’re excited that [Southern Baptist] church planters on the mission field will not have to constantly try to raise their own support. We just believe that means they can focus on evangelism and building relationships with the lost.”

The record giving to AAEO in recent years has allowed Southern Baptists to appoint more North American missionaries – and to take better care of them. For example, NAMB recently announced expanded benefits to church planters through GuideStone Financial Resources, including the ability to save for retirement, along with disability and survivor protection benefits.

“The reports we are hearing about churches breaking their Annie Offering goals are very encouraging,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “We are incredibly grateful for every church that faithfully gives and for every pastor who is leading his church to give.”

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