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Va. conservatives’ turnout is record for annual meeting

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RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A record number of messengers to the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia Nov. 14-15 annual meeting focused on the theme of “Renewing Your Passion,” which challenged them to renew their passion for their first love, for prayer, for truth and for the local church.

The 1,222 in attendance at Grove Avenue Baptist in Richmond, Va., comprised the largest annual meeting attendance in the state convention’s nine-year history.

In addition to SBCV pastors who interpreted the theme, it was driven home by Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, and the testimony of Carrie McDonnell, an International Mission Board worker who was badly injured in a terrorist attack that took her husband’s life in Iraq.

The convention welcomed 31 new churches, which brings the total number of SBCV congregations to 470 and represents one of the largest groups of churches requesting SBCV affiliation in a single year. Eagle Awards were given to 25 churches that sponsored a church plant in the past year.

An $8.2 million budget was adopted, representing an increase of 5.8 percent over the current year. The new budget includes more than $2 million for church planting and directs 50 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministries.

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Disaster relief workers were recognized and awarded a pin in honor of their service. Within 10 weeks, SBCV churches gave $636,127 to disaster relief and at the same time experienced their best months ever in Cooperative Program giving. Those 10 weeks saw 898 individuals trained in disaster relief, bringing the total of trained SBCV volunteers to 1,448. The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia deployed crews that served nearly half a million hot meals, provided for 1,652 showers and recorded 33 professions of faith in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.

Carl Weiser, pastor of Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Lynchburg, was elected to a second term as president. Mark Becton, pastor of Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, was elected first vice president; Ken Neinke, pastor of Fellowship Community Church in Salem, second vice president; and Steve Markel, pastor of Life Community Church in Lorton, secretary. All were elected by acclamation.

Messengers passed resolutions addressing homosexuality in education, judicial nominations, appreciation for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers, support for the teaching of Intelligent Design and appreciation for the president of the United States and the military.

SBCV Executive Director Doyle Chauncey noted the passion displayed by Eric Liddell, a main character in the movie “Chariots of Fire.”

“Eric Liddell was very passionate about running but was controlled by another much deeper passion,” Chauncey said. “He loved God more than he loved to run.”

Chauncey challenged those with misplaced passions to walk away from choices that are not compelling and find fulfillment in what they are called to do.

In his presidential address, Weiser urged messengers and guests to have a passion for God, which leads to compassion for people.

“Courageous Christianity is not for wimps,” Weiser said. “Who is going to heaven because of you? What difference has your life made to others?”

Throughout the meeting, video presentations highlighted the theme and inspired the group toward evangelism and missions. Video stories detailed the renewed passion of eight SBCV churches, and video footage of local church baptisms reminded messengers of the “Everyone Can” Kingdom Challenge for evangelism put forth by SBC President Bobby Welch.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., referred to the Nov. 15 death of Adrian Rogers as a reminder that time is short. He cautioned the convention that many churches today are marked by a lack of passion because of their lack of commitment to the truth of the Gospel. Mohler went on to point out that a passionless church does not understand the gift of salvation as explained in the Book of Romans.

“We are to be ambassadors of a passionate Lord, who through His passion gave us a reason to be passionate about the mission,” he said.

Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Lynchburg will host the 2006 Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia meeting Nov. 13-14.
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Don Cockes is the church enrichment missionary for the SBCV’s southeast area.