LYNCHBURG, VA (BP)–Messengers to the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia annual “homecoming” unanimously approved two resolutions calling for continued convention-wide support of the Cooperative Program, as well as increased CP commitment from their churches.
Messengers also approved a $9 million “ministry investment plan” for 2011, which represented a 2 percent decrease over 2010 and will send 50.5 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to national and international mission causes through the Southern Baptist Convention.
The gathering — the 14th annual meeting for the SBCV — was held Nov. 8–9 at Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.
The annual meeting is called a “homecoming” for a reason, said Jeff Ginn, executive director of the group.
“It is not primarily a ‘business’ meeting; it is a revival. It is a rally around the Great Commission that our Lord has given us,” Ginn said. “Our churches spoke resoundingly through their messengers that we intend to continue cooperating together for the extension of our Lord’s Kingdom.”
The SBCV has been a “50/50” Cooperative Program convention since its inception in 1996. At last year’s meeting, messengers voted to approve a “Vision 20/20” report that called for 0.25 percent increases each year for 10 years in Cooperative Program mission funds passed along to the national Southern Baptist Convention. Early estimates indicate this will result in an additional $1.2 million for national and international ministries by the year 2020.
During this year’s report, Carl Weiser, pastor of the host church and chairman of the SBCV Executive Committee, asked messengers to make commitments to both pray for and lead their churches to sponsor a new church plant, discover and take the next step to church health, engage actively in the Acts 1:8 Network and to increase CP giving.
The first approved resolution encouraged churches to give at least 10 percent of their offerings through the Cooperative Program. The second approved resolution affirmed the Great Commission Resurgence movement and challenged member churches to increase their Cooperative Program giving by 0.25 percent yearly until 2020 — in line with the state convention’s already approved commitment.
Attendance records showed more guests than messengers present at this year’s meeting: 540 messengers came from 182 churches, along with 637 guests for a total attendance of 1,177. Messengers elected by acclamation Mark Becton, pastor of Grove Avenue Baptist in Richmond, to a second term as president. Gordon Ellsworth, pastor of Virginia Beach Beacon Baptist Church, was elected to a second term as secretary. Stewart McCarter, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Suffolk, was elected first vice president, and Rick Ewing, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Lynchburg, was elected second vice president.
Becton called the gathering “a celebration.”
“We praise God for allowing us to see lives changed, believers mobilized, and new churches birthed,” Becton said. “When you have a convention of churches praying and working together to start 400 new churches in 10 years, there’s an excitement about doing the impossible with God. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Messengers unanimously approved a $9 million “ministry investment plan” for 2011, which represented a 2 percent decrease over 2010. This includes forwarding 50.5 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention, while retaining 49.5 percent for SBCV missions and ministries. Almost 50 percent of the money kept in state will be invested in church planting.
The theme for the meeting was “Transforming Lives,” based on Romans 12:1-2. Many of the convention speakers — including Mark Becton, Jeff Crook, J.D. Greear, Bobby Welch, and Vance Pitman — tied their messages to this theme. SBCV pastors Jonge Tate, Banks Swanson, Tim Piland, Brian Autry, and Wendell Horton also brought thoughtful challenges wrapped around the main theme.
Ginn recognized top churches in Cooperative Program giving and baptisms. The Macedonia Award for CP giving went to First Baptist Church of Roanoke (total giving) and Matoaca Baptist Church (per capita giving). The Pentecost Award for Baptisms went to Highlands Fellowship in Abingdon (total baptisms) and Discipleship Baptist in Buena Vista (per capita).
Longtime women’s ministry strategist Sue Sawyer was honored during the gathering. Sawyer is retiring after leading SBCV women’s ministries since 1998. She will stay on part-time with SBCV as associate church mobilization strategist for projects. A Women’s Ministry dinner during the meeting featured Cheryl McGuinness, widow of one of the American pilots whose plane was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
The 2011 homecoming will be held Nov. 13–15 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond.
Brandon Pickett is director of media services for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.