Corinthians work together through Cooperative Programby Mike Creswell
If you pass through Elizabeth City headed to the coast, you just might pass by Corinth Baptist Church which sits alongside U.S. 17 near the city's cluster of restaurants and shopping centers.
David M. Turner, Corinth's pastor, is committed to cooperation with the other churches of Chowan Baptist Association, North Carolina Baptists and Southern Baptists beyond. Corinth averages 350 in attendance on Sunday mornings.
Turner is committed to the Cooperative Program as the best way to support missions and ministry.
"I think the Cooperative Program helps us work together in a joint effort with other Baptists. We get so focused on our own different areas of ministry here, sometimes it's hard to see the world beyond and see the different areas where we're working together with other Baptists," Turner said.
He compares giving through the Cooperative Program to giving through the church.
"On a given Sunday, I say, 'You don't give to the church, you give through the church. As you give through the church, you're literally enabling the gospel to go to the ends of the world. As we give through the Cooperative Program, it affects every aspect of world missions and touches many different folks in the world. To me, the Cooperative Program is something that pulls us together as a church," he explained.
"There are so many things we can support through the Cooperative Program, such as starting new churches, preparing young men and women for ministry, supporting our military and prison chaplains, reaching out to the different ethnic groups now in our state and so on. The Cooperative Program also pulls our many churches together in supporting these many ministries," he said.
Corinth currently gives about 8 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, but he has challenged the church to increase its giving by half a percent a year for the next four or five years. He followed the same approach at his previous two churches, Turner said.
He believes when Corinth members learn about the far-reaching ministries they support through the Cooperative Program, it encourages them to give more. "We are stewards of what God has given us, not just as individuals, but as a church. We are stewards," he said.
In 2010 Corinth began supporting a ministry to the many Asians who live in the area, and they were able to call on church planting consultant Ralph Garay with the Baptist State Convention to help them get the ministry started. Twice a month now they teach English and hold Bible studies for Chinese restaurant workers in the area and they have seen several people come to faith in Christ.
Corinth also supports the work of NC Baptist Men and has both volunteer men and women and several "blue hat" coordinators among the members. Corinth is a strong supporter of the North Carolina Missions Offering which supports Baptist Men, church planting and other missions causes.
"Our Baptist Men leader, Tim Adylett, and Woman's Missionary Union leader, Mrs. Barbara Spear, are both very supportive of the Cooperative Program, as is our finance committee. They see the benefits of having our church support the Cooperative Program and they are aware of what it does and what it's about," Turner said.
Turner said he likes the fact that the Cooperative Program is operated from the bottom up, not from the top down.
"As a congregational church, we decide we want to support the Cooperative Program and we send that to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The state convention decides in annual meeting how the Cooperative Program will be divided and it goes on to the SBC and to the uttermost parts of the world," he said.
In 2011 Corinth co-sponsored a missions conference with Chowan Baptist Association, invited missionaries and special speakers over a weekend that included grilled steaks and lots of information sharing on missions. A Cooperative Program exhibit was included.
"We hope to have even more churches take part next time," he said.