News Articles

John Upton nominated as Virginia executive

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–John V. Upton Jr., a well-known Virginia Baptist missions leader, will be nominated to become executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.

Ray Spence, who chairs the nine-member committee seeking to fill the position, unveiled the committee’s choice at the mission board’s executive committee meeting Sept. 11.

Upton, 48, must be elected by the mission board at its Oct. 9-10 meeting in Richmond and by messengers to the annual BGAV meeting Nov. 8-9 in Woodbridge. If approved by both groups, he would assume his new position early next year.

Reginald McDonough, executive director of the BGAV and the VBMB since 1987, will retire Feb. 28.

“Missions is the foundation of our house,” said Spence, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Richmond. “John Upton has an understanding of missions structure and a network for doing missions. We believe he is the right person for this time in the history of Virginia Baptists.”

Upton has been group leader of the mission board’s mission mobilization group since 1995. In that role he has developed mission partnership relationships with Baptists in Virginia, the United States and around the world in cooperation with the Baptist World Alliance, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board and other ministry partners.

He also has served as co-chair of Virginia Baptists’ Co-Missioner Council, which coordinates mission work between the mission board and Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia; supervised disaster relief work; developed programs and curricula for Virginia Baptist camps; and facilitated the process for producing, evaluating and designing customized missions education curricula for Virginia Baptist congregations.

From 1984-86 and again from 1991-95, Upton was pastor of Urbanna (Va.) Baptist Church. He and his wife, Deborah, were missionaries in Taiwan from 1986-91, serving with the SBC’s International Mission Board.

He also has been pastor of Colts Neck Baptist Church in Colts Neck, N.J., and associate pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.

Upton holds a bachelor of arts degree from Averett College, a Virginia Baptist-affiliated school in Danville, Va., and a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

He also holds the honorary doctor of divinity degree from the India Baptist Theological Seminary in Kerrala. He has studied at the Taipei Language Institute and Chinese Language Institute, both in Taiwan. He also has been involved in clinical pastoral education at Hazelwood Hospital and Crescent Hill Baptist Church, both in Louisville.

Upton’s wife, Deborah, is associate pastor for children at First Baptist Church in Richmond, which Upton also attends. The couple has three children: Christopher, 23; Richard, 21; and Emily, 20.

McDonough announced his retirement April 3 and a search committee was named by BGAV President Darrell Foster later that month.

“From the beginning this has been a good committee and a praying committee,” Spence told the Religious Herald. “As our committee met, we confirmed several things. First, Virginia Baptists are in a unique place among Baptists. The spiritual and historical implications of being Virginia Baptist kept coming up in our conversations.

“Second, Virginia Baptists have so much able leadership, more than most people realize. We were overwhelmed by the amount of talent in our state. We interviewed several candidates from outside Virginia, but if you’re not a Virginian it’s difficult to know how far we’ve progressed on denominational matters. The only people who fully understood what we’re doing are Virginia Baptists.

“Third, we are confident that the time will come when Virginia Baptists will have a female as our executive director. One of the serious candidates was female.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. JOHN V. UPTON, JR.

    About the Author

  • Robert Dilday