WHEELING, W.Va. (BP)–Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, W.Va., was the location. The Upper Ohio Valley Baptist Association churches were the exemplary hosts. Empowering Kingdom Growth was the theme. For many, spiritual renewal was the outcome.
The 204 messengers and 113 visitors to the 32nd annual session of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists enjoyed inspirational music and preaching, missions and ministry reports, unanimous votes and a convenient location, all making the Nov. 1-2 gathering a rewarding experience akin to a family reunion.
Messengers adopted a statewide focus on Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG), the theme for a national emphasis among Southern Baptists on Kingdom of God concerns. EKG now will serve as the organizing theme for Baptist work in West Virginia in the coming years as well. The EKG emphasis is an outgrowth of state missions work developed in South Carolina under the leadership of Executive Director Carlisle Driggers there. Driggers was on hand at the West Virginia convention to lead an EKG-related Bible study at each session.
Messengers adopted six resolutions without discussion after a report from resolutions committee chairman Dean Brdlik, pastor of Emmanuel Community Baptist Church in Lewisburg. The subjects included gambling and pornography; the Covenant Marriage Movement; political involvement; recognition of national, world and mission needs; appreciation for the host association; and appreciation for the state staff.
A messenger submitted an additional resolution encouraging churches to identify themselves with the Southern Baptist Convention by using the SBC logo in all public relations efforts such as signs and letterheads. The committee commended the idea to the convention attendees but did not feel it was appropriate to present it as a resolution.
The resolution addressing political involvement noted support “of local candidates who uphold biblical, family values, who take positions that will protect our churches from governmental intrusion, whose lives are marked by integrity and biblical morality, and candidates who demonstrate unswerving loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, the intent of America’s founding Fathers, and America’s godly heritage.” The resolution urged Baptists “to wisely avail themselves of the electoral process, to interact with and voice their convictions to elected legislators, and to run for and hold political office as they are so led by the Spirit of God” as they seek “to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ for the glory of God in our great state of West Virginia.”
The resolution on gambling and pornography noted, “We are convinced that such vices as gambling and erotic sexual entertainment are detrimental to the family, contribute to the moral decay of communities, are an impediment to productive economic growth of West Virginia, and will result in damaging the emotional and spiritual character of West Virginia children.”
The marriage resolution noted in part, “It is the local congregation’s responsibility to provide marriage preparation … that is, to help the couple examine their hearts to confirm and affirm that which God desires for them in this union.”
Messengers approved a $2,629,600 budget for the 2003 calendar year, a 7 percent increase from the 2002 budget, largely a result of a 30-plus-percent increase in the cost of health insurance. The budget includes $504,364 to be forwarded to Southern Baptist causes, an ongoing 37.5 percent of the anticipated Cooperative Program giving from West Virginia churches — one of the highest percentages among emerging state conventions the size of the WVCSB.
The convention’s current officers were re-elected without opposition for an additional year of service: president, Richard Carbaugh, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grandview; first vice president, Johnny Kelly, pastor of Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg; second vice president, David Sommerville, pastor of First Baptist Church in Craigsville; and recording secretary, Fred E. Morgan Sr., a layman from Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg.
The WVCSB is composed of 152 churches and 28 chapels. Messengers seated one new church this year, Ryerson Baptist Church in South Wheeling where Ron McCoy is the pastor.
Because some of this year’s Annual Church Profiles are not available , exact membership figures are approximate. Based on 2001 figures, it appears that the total membership is near 34,000 and resident membership is close to 25,000. The total number of churches with messengers registered at the 2002 convention will not be compiled until a future date.
Wayne Taylor from the Florida Baptist Convention joined West Virginian Terry Vaughan to present the Florida/West Virginia missions partnership report. The partnership’s first year was celebrated with reports of 48 Florida teams contributing to the 375 professions of faith across the state.
In addition to Driggers, other featured speakers during the convention included John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention and a West Virginia native, and Charles Fuller, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Roanoke.
Sullivan, in his sermon, noted five focus areas that must be included if Christians are to claim to preach the gospel:
1) Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
2) Jesus came according to prophecy.
3) Jesus died on the cross and he was raised from the dead.
4) Each person is personally involved in his death because all are sinners.
5) Jesus Christ is coming again!
Carbaugh, in his presidential address, described the armor of God as the best protection for the family. Speaking from Ephesians 6:10-17, Carbaugh concluded that it is not appropriate for parents to say, “Don’t do what I do. Do what I say.”
“Children watch their parents,” Carbaugh said. “More parents need to take up God’s armor daily to show their children how to live.”
Ken Owens, pastor of Edgemont Baptist Church in Bluefield, preached the convention sermon. Speaking from the story in Luke 2 recounting the time when Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus in Jerusalem, Owens suggested that sometimes Christians leave Jesus behind as well. It is easy to get distracted in the midst of our business, Owens said, while pointing out that Christians can always find Jesus doing what his Father wants him to do.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 7-8 at Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley.