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PRINCETON, W.Va. (BP)–West Virginia Baptists gathered to celebrate the Cooperative Program at their Nov. 3-4 annual meeting at Burke Memorial Baptist Church in Princeton, W.Va.
Church planters taught Bible studies and gave testimonies of the value of the Cooperative Program for supporting their ministries as well as other missions causes.
Videos showing how Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan funds disaster relief and an array of ministries worldwide were interspersed with testimonies from West Virginia individuals whose lives had been impacted because of Baptists working through the Cooperative Program.
A member of the state convention staff introduced a new promotional resource – a full-color brochure titled “Cooperative Program — Changed Lives = Living Proof — It’s Still Working in West Virginia!” — featuring photos and testimonies of West Virginia Baptists from various age groups whose lives have been touched by CP.
Everyone received a copy of the brochure and was invited to request as many additional copies as they wanted for use in their home churches.
Terry Harper, executive director of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists, commended the churches for their exemplary giving in his report, sharing his dream of the budget reaching 40 percent going to national and international missions and ministries and in the long run reaching a goal of 50 percent being forwarded to missions causes beyond West Virginia.
From an anticipated $1.3 million in Cooperative Program giving from West Virginia churches in the coming year, messengers approved a half-percent-of-budget increase, to 38 percent, to be forwarded to national and international missions and ministries of the SBC. Messengers were told that Cooperative Program receipts are running 9-10 percent ahead of 2005 figures.
The convention’s overall 2007 budget, meanwhile, will be a record $2,673,512 budget, up $71,938 over the current budget, including CP receipts and other income.
Harper challenged the 208 messengers and 70 visitors to return to their churches committed to increasing the percentage of their undesignated gifts forwarded to missions through the Cooperative Program and through associational missions.
The Friday night session emphasized the importance of volunteers, especially disaster relief responders. Greg Wrigley, state director of missions, showed a video of disaster relief ministries worldwide and then recognized West Virginia disaster relief workers who traveled to the Gulf Coast and the Northeast to help with various projects since last year’s annual meeting.
Wrigley also placed a call to Dennis Cherry, an associational missionary from the Allegheny Baptist Association in West Virginia who was leading a team working near Buffalo, N.Y., to let messengers hear a live report from the field.
Chuck Kelly, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered a message that included personal illustrations from his experience with the disaster response following Hurricane Katrina. Both he and Wrigley pointed to the effectiveness of the Cooperative Program combined with devoted volunteers that brought the love of Christ to the hearts of hurting people.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, closed out the annual meeting with a challenge for leaders to be giant killers like David who know that only God is big enough to conquer the spiritual obstacles facing the SBC. He also called people to focus on revival, rightness and relevancy.
During the business sessions, messengers approved a record budget of $2.6 million for 2007, which includes a one-half percent increase in the amount forwarded to national and international causes. The new percentage is 38 percent, which represents anticipated gifts forwarded in the amount of $502,365.
C.J. Adkins, pastor of Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, was re-elected convention president without opposition, as were the first vice president, Tim Kearney, a member of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Scott Depot, second vice president, Seth Polk, pastor of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes; and recording secretary, Fred Morgan, a member of Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg.
According to the churches listed in the book of reports, 176 of West Virginia’s 195 congregations turned in their Annual Church Profile early enough to be included in statistical compilations. Total membership among the reporting churches was 30,127, resident membership 22,460, Sunday School enrollment 14,752, and baptisms 1,138. Preliminary figures indicate the baptism numbers will be an increase over the 2005 amount, which was a 10 percent increase over the 2004 baptismal total.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3 at Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg. Following the meeting, a prayer conference Nov. 3-11 will feature T.W. Hunt, Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby, Sammy Tippit, Francois Carr and Al Whittinghill.