PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (BP)–Messengers from West Virginia Southern Baptist churches left their annual meeting with a resolve to follow their theme, “Until He Comes … Go Forward” (Exodus 14:15), stirred by Bible studies from the Book of Acts by John Polhill of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and biblical preaching by Alabama evangelist Junior Hill; state convention President Don Yeager; South Carolina Baptists’ executive director, Carlisle Driggers; and pastor David Dockery of First Baptist Church, Princeton, W.Va.
During the Nov. 2-3 annual meeting at Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg, 190 messengers and 78 visitors from 75 of the total 157 churches and 30 chapels affiliated with West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists met their new executive director/minister, Terry Harper, and his wife, Cheryl.
Harper, pastor for the last 17 years at Colonial Heights (Va.) Baptist Church, was elected unanimously at the Nov. 1 regular executive board meeting in Parkersburg and will assume his new duties Dec. 1.
A pastor since 1972, Harper was the 1996-98 president of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and has served in many other roles in Southern Baptist life including as a trustee of the International Mission Board and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California.
Messengers adopted a 4.8 percent increase for the convention’s $2,299,522 budget for 2002, including a Cooperative Program goal of $438,275 devoting 37.5 percent to West Virginia missions causes and the balance to the SBC, including a .5 percent-of-budget allocation increase.
By a unanimous vote, messengers approved a change in the convention’s constitution to delete the 1963 reference from the Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs so that any version that has been approved by the SBC and a local church is an acceptable part of the credentialing process. The new Section 1, Article III – Membership, reads, “This Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of and elected by Southern Baptist churches which are in agreement with the ‘Baptist Faith and Message’ as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention and which cooperate with, fellowship with and contribute to the work of the convention.”
Richard Carbaugh, pastor First Baptist Church, Grandview, was elected as the convention’s president and Johnny Kelly, pastor of Westview Baptist Church, Martinsburg, first vice president. For second vice president, messengers elected David Summerville, pastor, of First Baptist Church, Craigsville, over Carl Stokes, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Bluefield. Fred Morgan, a member of Fairlawn Baptist Church, Parkersburg, was elected recording secretary.
Messengers approved three resolutions presented by committee chairman Ricky Persons:
— appreciation for the state staff’s admirable service in the absence of an executive director/minister, pledging the messengers’ prayer support for the staff during the transition to new leadership.
— calling West Virginia Southern Baptists to prayer for the nation’s leaders and for world missionaries during these difficult times.
— appreciation to the city of Parkersburg, Don Yeager, his staff and the congregation of Fairlawn Baptist Church as hosts for the 2001 annual convention.
Messengers welcomed two new churches into full voting membership, New Life in Bridgeport and West Teays Baptist in Hurricane and one church under watch care, Ryerson Chapel in Wheeling.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 1-2 in the Upper Ohio Valley Association at Oglebay Park, with Vernon Beachum selected to bring the annual message.
Highlawn Baptist Church in Huntington has invited the convention to meet there in 2004.