ROANOKE, Va. (BP) — The Baptist General Association of Virginia heard a recounting of the association’s history, approved a decreased budget and adopted a resolution denouncing “anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry” during its annual meeting Nov. 13-15 at Bonsack Baptist Church in Roanoke, Va.
The BGAV’s 193rd annual meeting featured 654 messengers and 293 guests representing 292 churches from across Virginia and beyond.
The theme of the meeting was “The New Way,” drawn from John 13:33-35. New this year, the meeting began with several breakout sessions Monday afternoon, with a worship service that evening. The choir from Bonsack Baptist presented “A Shepherd’s Heart — The Ministry of a Believer,” a musical production written by the church’s music minister Barry Green.
Gabe Lyons, founder of Q Ideas, was the main speaker in the annual meeting’s worship services. Reflecting on the current state of culture and how faithful Christians can respond, Lyons asked, “What does it mean to show up for our neighbors when we are a people in the minority?”
Preaching from 1 Corinthians 1, Bonsack Baptist Pastor Chris Cadenhead also delivered a sermon during one of the worship services. “God expects us to bring our best skills in communicating the unchanging truth,” he said.
BGAV executive director John Upton offered his report during the first business session, reminding attendees of the birth story of both the church and the BGAV.
“To remember rightly from where we come is to remember what is of great importance to us,” Upton said. “This is the first step on the way to the new way.”
The 2017 budget, presented by the Executive Board, was approved at $10 million, $500,000 less than the 2016 budget, which is in line with expected Cooperative Missions receipts. As in previous years, the budget divides allocations between BGAV ministries and partners — a category which will total $7,200,000 in 2017 — and world mission causes, totaling $2,800,000.
The BGAV offers three preset giving tracks to its churches, and it provides a fourth option for churches to customize their giving. Those options will not be affected by the reduced budget.
The percentage divisions:
— The World Missions 1 track provides 66 percent for Virginia ministries and 34 percent for Southern Baptist Convention ministries.
— The World Missions 2 track provides 72 percent for BGAV ministries and 28 percent for a combination of Virginia, Southern Baptist Convention, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other ministries.
— The World Missions 3 track provides 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ministries.
The BGAV also welcomed two new covenant partners, Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C., and Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill.
Stuart Crow, a member of First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Va., was elected president. George Fletcher, retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Winchester. Va., was elected first vice president.
Additionally, messengers elected Michael Cheuk, a church consultant in Charlottesville, Va., as second vice president. Fred Anderson, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, will serve as clerk for a 35th year.
Carl Johnson, a retired mission administrator and member of First Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., was approved for a second year as chair of the Executive Board. Becky McKinney, Kevin Meadows, Herbert Ponder, Adam Tyler and Michael Jordan all were elected to serve on the Executive Board.
Four proposed amendments to the Constitution/Bylaws, addressing committee chairmanships and procedures for submitting resolutions among other topics, were adopted without discussion.
In additional business, the Religious Liberty Committee brought forward a resolution calling on Virginia Baptists to “speak out against anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry, learn about Islam, get to know their Muslim neighbors, meet and talk with them about their respective faiths and common concerns, such as religious liberty, and above all else show them the love of Jesus.”
The resolution passed with a 78 percent majority after some discussion, clearing the 75 percent threshold for resolutions to be approved.
At the close of the meeting, Upton introduced a time of communion, stating, “We will leave this place one family, but we will go to many different places of worship. It is important to remember who we are … God and His love will have the last word so that we can go in confidence.”
Next year’s annual meeting will be held Nov. 13-15 in the Hampton Roads metro region.