RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia marked the convention’s 15th anniversary at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond with the theme “Transforming Churches.”
Mark Becton, the convention’s president and pastor of Grove Avenue, delivered the convention message titled “Transformed by the Adventure with God,” from Acts 1.
“The SBCV annual homecoming is always a unique opportunity to celebrate God’s activity in our churches,” Becton said. “But this year, we really sensed His Spirit was at work even before homecoming started. In talking with many pastors and lay leaders, I see a move of the Father to truly transform our churches through transformed lives.”
More than 1,200 people attended the Nov. 13-15 session, with 838 registering either as a messenger or guest. An additional 300 unregistered guests attended the International Mission Board service Monday evening, including about 100 in a mass choir from four SBCV churches. Tom Elliff, the new IMB president, was commissioned during the service, and several Southern Baptist entity presidents attended.
Steve Bradshaw, director of the SBCV’s maturing churches team, said, “I am not sure we realized the magnitude of this historic occasion. While celebrating a milestone as a convention, we witnessed SBC leadership from all over the country commission the new IMB president.
“What a blessing of inspiration to see in the same room with SBCV messengers from across the state hundreds of missionaries in training that will scatter abroad to proclaim the Gospel. The Cooperative Program cannot be more clear than that,” Bradshaw said, referencing Southern Baptists’ channel for national and international missions and ministries.
North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell spoke to the convention Tuesday morning. He updated messengers on his transition as NAMB president and spoke from Acts 20 on the “Missions Legacy of a Transforming Church.” On Monday afternoon, Ezell held a question-and-answer session with dozens of SBCV church planters and their wives.
Keynote speakers during the annual meeting included Stephen Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., and Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
SBCV pastors provided theme challenges throughout the meeting. Speakers included Grant Ethridge, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton; Eric Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Norfolk; John Kirwa Maritim, pastor of Sunrise Baptist Church in Arlington; and Rick Ewing, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Lynchburg.
No Other Name, recording artists from Nashville, Tenn., provided special music throughout the meeting while Paul Randlett and the SBCV convention praise team led worship.
Randall Hahn, pastor of Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, and evangelist Bob Davis were nominated for president, and after a ballot vote, Hahn was elected.
Also elected as convention officers were Danny Campbell, pastor of Wayne Hills Baptist Church in Waynesboro, first vice president; Reggie Hester, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Chesapeake, second vice president; Don Paxton, pastor of Rosedale Baptist Church in Abingdon, recording secretary.
Doyle Chauncey, interim executive director of the SBCV, reported that for the third year in a row the convention budget has remained the same. Messengers adopted a 2012 budget of $9 million, with 50.75 percent of undesignated CP receipts forwarded for national and international missions and ministries. The .25 percent-of-budget CP increase is in line with the Vision 20/20 strategy adopted in 2009 to increase the amount forwarded to SBC causes every year when funds are available.
“Annual homecoming was especially personal to me because it was celebrating my 15th anniversary with this special group of pastors, churches and missionaries,” Chauncey said. “This homecoming reaffirmed to me what was started in 1996. It was a time not just for looking back but for celebrating a very bright future.”
The 2012 ministry investment plan includes nearly $300,000 more for multiplying churches, bringing the total allocated for church planting in 2012 to $1,915,843, or 18 percent of the total money SBCV invests for Virginia mission work.
Mark Custalow, director of the multiplying churches team, underscored the importance of sponsoring churches through an interview with Drew Landry, pastor of Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg. Spotswood sponsors Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Haysi.
Also during the annual meeting, the SBCV gave 10 awards to churches sponsoring church plants. Custalow said 15 church planters and apprentices were approved to start work in 2011.
Custalow introduced new church planting resources to the convention. “Communities of Hope” is a resource for pastors and churches to empower committed Christians to reach their lost friends and neighbors with the Gospel through small group Bible studies.
“Mission Site Digest” is an online resource by which leaders can learn more about new research and opportunities to plant churches in the 120 neediest areas of Virginia.
Chauncey expressed gratitude to God for the new 13,500-square-foot missions support center that the convention staff moved into at the beginning of October.
“The good news is that God has graciously provided the resources to build it without having to borrow money,” Chauncey said. “So after 15 years of paying rent, we are rent-free and debt-free. The savings is about $250,000 annually, which will now be available for planting more churches and other strategic missions.”
The missions support center will be placed into a wholly owned SBCV subsidiary, SBCV Holdings, LLC, which will provide limited liability protection for the building.
Chauncey introduced another subsidiary called Innovative Faith Resources. IFR, formerly Church Ministry Services, has been providing financial services to churches and church plants since 1999. This year it was renamed and retooled to provide media, branding and marketing services for churches, church plants, state conventions and associations as well as other ministries and nonprofits.
Chauncey reminded messengers that the executive director search committee would be receiving resumes through Nov. 30. Committee chairman Kelly Burris, pastor of Kempsville Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, gave a short update and asked for prayer as the committee seeks God’s man for the position.
Eight existing churches requested affiliation with the SBCV in 2011. Bradshaw highlighted the evangelistic work of the convention’s churches through Southern Baptists’ national God’s Plan for Sharing initiative with a video from the “findithere.com 200” race at South Boston Speedway in Virginia in July.
Mark Gauthier, director of the mobilizing churches team, reported on the expanding Acts 1:8 Network. Churches already working in the same national or international mission field can come together in a specific network to provide synergy, he said. Currently eight networks exist and more are to come. More than 120 SBCV churches are working together in an Acts 1:8 Network.
Messengers approved two resolutions. One resolution thanked God for the “vision, courage, and sacrifice of all those involved in the establishment of the SBCV” on its 15th anniversary. The other resolution thanked Grove Avenue and Becton for hosting the meeting.
Next year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia will be Nov. 11-13 at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton.
Brandon Pickett is director of media services for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.