The largest portion of the American Baptist Mission Support budget is called United Mission (UM). These contributions from local churches provide the foundation of support for God’s mission through us.
United Mission is typically a part of your church’s mission budget. Each fall, when pastors and congregational leaders plan your church’s budget for the following year, they should prayerfully consider God’s vision of ministry for your church, and include increased support in your financial commitment to United Mission. United Mission can also be a good way for churches to set the tone of stewardship for the rest of the congregation. Whether your United Mission budget is a tithe or an offering, your faithful response and increased support of your church’s mission budget throughout the year is vital to our shared ministry. Including mission support in your vision and strategic plans for your church are paramount for growth in God’s ministry through us.
Congregations give to United Mission in three ways:
- United Mission Basics are undesignated contributions from local churches to the vital mission and ministry of American Baptists. Basics are the most common form of United Mission contribution, and provide support for the extensive foundation of American Baptist missions.
- United Mission Designations are designated contributions from local churches to a particular budgeted regional, national, or general American Baptist mission or ministry. Designations provide a personalized way of giving to one ministry without taking from others.
- United Mission Love Gifts are contributions from American Baptist women in support of American Baptist ministry, given over and above United Mission Basics.
What kind of ministries does United Mission support?
Hundreds of Christ-honoring, church-strengthening, disciple-making ministries exist because of United Mission.
United Mission supports American Baptist congregational and regional resources for:
- Prayer and Witness
- Renewal and worship
- Children and Youth
- Adults and Elderly
- Families and Singles
- Pastors and Lay Leaders
- Christian Education
- Stewardship and Tithing
- Church Planting
- Camps and Conferences
- Disaster Relief
- Overseas and Home Missionaries
- General Board
- Ecumenical Relationships
- Mission Education
Why should I contribute to United Mission?
- United Mission supports only American Baptist ministries.
- United Mission models “budget” giving through planning.
- United Mission allows churches to do together what no single church could do alone.
- United Mission supports all American Baptist ministries with a single gift.
- United Mission represents good stewardship of time for pastors, churches, and regional, national, and general staff.
- United Mission acknowledges the ministry of administration.
- United Mission offers the option of personalized giving.
- United Mission demonstrates biblical teachings about giving.
What is the history of our United Mission?
From the very beginning, Baptists in America have been a people of mission. The forming of the First American Baptist Church in Rhode Island was itself an act of mission in an often hostile environment. Mission pastors were soon preaching the Gospel and forming churches through New England in all 13 colonies.
Mission brought these Baptists into closer fellowship and cooperation. Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice, who left Massachusetts as missionaries of the Congregational Church, studied the teaching of Believer’s Baptism, and were baptized by William Carey in India. Suddenly, without prior planning, the Baptists had a foreign mission. Rice eventually returned to the United States to organize support for Judson’s mission in Burma.
Luther Rice encouraged a growing interest in mission as he traveled throughout the colonies and the burgeoning frontier. Interest in establishing new churches resulted in mission at home. Interest in proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world resulted in mission overseas. Interest in training pastors and laity, providing Bibles and teaching helps for the unchurched led to educational mission. Interest in strengthening local churches by helping them bond together in fellowship and service resulted in regional mission.
A network of societies emerged, giving direction to the American Baptist system of fundraising for mission. The societies spearheaded the promotion and development of mission within the family of churches eventually known as American Baptist Churches USA.
The societies each approached churches directly with appeals for support of their ministries. But in 1907, with the formation of the Northern Baptist Convention to merge the societies, a cooperative strategy for mission support fundraising and a unified mission budget developed. In its early form, all dollars raised by any group were put into a common fund and shared with each ministry for a negotiated percentage distribution.
In 1977, the American Baptist General Board adopted a Budget Covenant that recognizes and assigns responsibilities of cooperative distribution of mission receipts by affiliated boards and regions. American Baptist Mission Support provides a variety of ways to support the mission, including four annual offerings for specific board ministries. The largest category, which provides vital and basic support for all American Baptist mission and ministries, was named United Mission.
In 2003, the American Baptist General Board approved a New Common Budget Covenant Agreement (effective 2004), in which regions were given the choice to continue mission support with United Mission as the foundational model of giving, or to formulate their own primary giving strategy under the Flexible Stewardship Plan. While the majority of regions affirmed the importance of the United Mission system, some regions desired the ability to customize the primary model through which they raise and use funds for ministry, and to utilize these alongside United Mission.
What’s in a name?
The call for unity in Christ’s church resounds through the New Testament. Jesus prayed for the disciples “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). The book of Acts speaks of the earliest church as being of “one accord” (8:6). The Apostle Paul heralded, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5).
The New Testament church united for mission. The great commission affirmed this mission simply and powerfully: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).
United Mission responds to the mandate from Jesus that “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). United Mission funds ministries that witness in Jerusalem – local congregations; and witness in Judea and Samaria – mission in America and international mission around the world.
What is the meaning of the United Mission Logo?
The United Mission logo includes symbols of the mission to which American Baptists have been called. The orange sunburst represents the warmth and radiance of the light of the Holy Spirit. The gold-color of the word “mission” denotes the reward and treasure of mission. The green background symbolizes growth, creation, renewal, giving. The stamp-like shape implies service, communication, and on-going outreach. But three symbols portray the most important components of United Mission.
The cross is in the forefront. The purity of white contrasts the colors around it, showing everything else is in support of it. The words of the apostle Paul become our words: “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). All mission and ministry respond to the amazing love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. United Mission provides a vital way for American Baptists to respond to God’s grace in Christ.
The globe portrays God’s mission to the world through us. The Bible teaches that God is “not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). John the Baptist introduces Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Our mission begins in local congregations and stretches to every person in every country in God’s creation. United Mission provides a far-reaching way to respond to God’s vision of ministry for us.
The church is symbolized not by a building, but with people. The red, blue, and purple figures represent American Baptists as multi-cultural members of one body. We are united as a community of faith at the foot of the cross with the world in our hearts. The diminishing dark blue behind the people implies less of self, more of Christ, as with outstretched arms we receive and share God’s blessings with joy and worship. The American Baptist Churches USA logo symbolizes ministries supported by our gifts.
The church is the central component of United Mission. Strengthening the local church is the prime focus of United Mission. Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. United Mission is a church-friendly system for Christian financial stewards.
How are United Mission dollars distributed?
- 65% Regional Ministries
- 8% General Ministries
- 7% International Ministries
- 6% Shared Ministries
- 6% National Ministries, Discipleship, and Education
- 3% Kansas Plan Institutions
- 2% Administratively Related Organizations (AROs)
- 2% Representative Process
- 1% Reserve for Ministry
United Mission Resources
- Order these FREE United Mission resources:
- Poster (17″x22″, English and Spanish)
- Poster (11″x17″)
- Placemat (11″x17″)
- What is United Mission? (5-1/2″x8-1/2″booklet, English and Spanish)
- How Did United Mission Begin? (bulletin insert)
- Offering Envelope (English and Spanish)