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W.Va. Baptists embrace CP, BF&M

RONCEVERTE, W.Va. (BP)–Messengers to the 40th annual meeting of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists embraced the Cooperative Program and the Baptist Faith and Message Nov. 5-6 at First Baptist Church Fairlea in Ronceverte.

A total of 134 messengers and 51 guests were registered at the meeting, which included several historical flashbacks. Five men who were involved in the founding of the state convention shared about the struggles many Baptists faced as they sought to establish the convention.

Terry Harper, the convention’s executive director, preached from Hebrews 12:1-2 with an admonition to stay in the race. The West Virginia convention’s pioneers may have felt like quitting many times, he said, but they stayed in the race. As a result, the convention is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

In addition to looking back, Harper led messengers in looking forward to another 40 years of sharing the Gospel with lost people in the state. “I am convinced our best days are ahead of us,” Harper said.

Seth Polk, pastor of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, was re-elected president; Greg Varndell, pastor of Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg, was elected first vice president; David Dockery, pastor of First Baptist Church in Princeton, was elected second vice president; and Helen Mellquist, a member of First Southern Baptist Church in Fairmont, was re-elected recording secretary.

Messengers approved a 2011 budget of $2,930,387, up slightly from $2.8 million for the current year. The convention will continue to forward 38 percent of an anticipated $1,500,115 in Cooperative Program receipts to national and international missions and ministries.

One resolution expressed “great concern that the newly crafted healthcare bill passed by Congress will mandate federal funding of abortion” and encouraged convention leaders, pastors and members to express such concerns to elected officials.

Another resolution acknowledged that the Cooperative Program has enabled West Virginia Baptists to “reach our state, nation and world for Jesus Christ” and that the Baptist Faith and Message “represents our common confession of our beliefs.”

Messengers agreed to commit themselves “afresh to our common mission through the Cooperative Program” and to live and proclaim “the glorious truths revealed in God’s Word and eloquently stated” in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Also at the meeting, West Virginia Baptists set a goal of increasing the Snedden Scholarship Fund from its current level of about $13,000 to $202,020 by the year 2020. Interest from the fund is awarded to selected students preparing for the ministry at a college or graduate school.

An ad hoc committee of the Executive Board was established to explore the possibility of partnering with an unreached people group in East Asia. About 40 people attended a breakfast to learn more about the potential endeavor.

Prior to the annual meeting, a Pastor’s Conference celebrated the theme “Serving with Humility.” A group from North Greenville University in South Carolina called “Joyful Sound” led in worship, and speakers included John Ewart of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Larry Steven McDonald of North Greenville University and Kenny Stidham, pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Scott Depot.

Pastor’s conference officers for the coming year are Greg Varndell, pastor of Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg, president; Marty Turner, pastor of Mountaineer Baptist Church in Morgantown, vice president; and Don Knotts, pastor of Wayside Baptist Church in Buckhannon, treasurer.

The West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists has 215 churches with about 30,000 members, and four new churches were recognized at the annual meeting.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 4-5 at Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg.
Based on a report by the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.

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