HENRICO, Va. (BP) — The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) has become the second Baptist state convention in the past week to announce it will stop channeling churches’ contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The BGAV’s Executive Board approved a statement today (Feb. 26) noting the board “regrets it has had to address the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s (CBF) approval” earlier this month of a policy “permitting the hiring of LGBT personnel for certain staff positions in the organization.”
However, the BGAV board stated, “the Virginia Baptist Executive Board believes it must take action on behalf of the General Association to have all of BGAV’s CBF contributing churches send their CBF gifts directly to the CBF National Office as soon as this is feasible. The Executive Board believes this action serves the BGAV, while respecting CBF.”
The Baptist General Convention of Texas likewise announced Feb. 20 it would stop forwarding churches’ gifts to CBF.
The CBF was founded in 1991 as a fellowship of churches that objected to the ideology and methods of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Conservative Resurgence.
The BGAV “at numerous annual meetings has affirmed and acted on its commitment to its orthodox and traditional view of biblical marriage and sexuality,” the state convention’s board stated. “The BGAV remains committed to respecting, welcoming, and loving all persons in the name of Christ while affirming an orthodox view of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Some 200 of the approximately 1,400 churches that cooperate with the BGAV send financial contributions to the CBF through the state convention, according to a BGAV news release, and will be affected by the board’s decision. The BGAV will help those churches send their gifts directly to the CBF national office, the release stated.
“I want to express appreciation to the Executive Board for the spirit and heart with which they made this decision,” BGAV executive director John Upton said according to the BGAV release.
The BGAV’s decision came less than three weeks after the CBF Governing Board voted to replace its former prohibition of hiring homosexual and transgender employees with a policy that opened some positions to “Christians who identify as LGBT.”
The BGAV board stated in response, “Though the BGAV respects CBF’s right to change its hiring policy, such a decision has had a direct impact on the BGAV. The Executive Board has sought to respond in the most prayerful and prudent way to the effects of this impact.”
Previously, the BGAV offered three preset giving tracks to its churches, and it provided a fourth option for churches to customize their giving:
— The World Missions 1 track provided 66 percent for Virginia ministries and 34 percent for SBC ministries.
— The World Missions 2 track provided 72 percent for BGAV ministries and 28 percent for a combination of Virginia, SBC, CBF and other ministries.
— The World Missions 3 track provided 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for CBF ministries.
All CBF giving options now will be eliminated from the BGAV’s giving plans.
At least one other SBC partner convention — the District of Columbia Baptist Convention — forwards churches’ contributions to the CBF.
However, according to a Feb. 20 action of the SBC Executive Committee, the SBC will “no longer recognize the DCBC as a Baptist body authorized to receive and disburse Cooperative Program and other SBC contributions” if the DC convention does not “secure” by May 20 “the removal of any churches from its fellowship that have demonstrated a faith or practice affirming, approving or endorsing homosexual behavior.”
The BGAV is one of two state conventions in Virginia that cooperate with the SBC. The other Virginia convention, the SBC (Southern Baptist Conservatives) of Virginia, does not forward gifts from churches to the CBF.