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BGAV Joins Rural Development Coalition in Virginia

Posted: 6/29/17 at 3:30pm.

Henrico, Va. – The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) is partnering with Bluefield College, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia (CBFVA), and Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia (WMUV) in a new Together For Hope (TFH) initiative in Southwest Virginia. These partners signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding committing to collaborate with local leaders to birth and nurture a ministry presence in the southwest region of the state.

Formed in 2001, TFH is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 20-year commitment to the 20 poorest counties in the United States. TFH was birthed with the strong conviction that the keys to alleviating poverty in these rural areas can be found within the people who live there. The approach is called Asset Based Community Development.

Together for Hope currently provides a faith-based presence in 18 locations in rural landscapes around the U.S. – from Arizona to Appalachia and from the Dakotas to the Delta. TFH agencies and individuals work alongside community members in these four focus areas: education, health and nutrition, housing and environment, and social enterprise. Recently, TFH’s vision has expanded to include the 301 counties in the US with persistent rural poverty.

“The BGAV is committed to working with partners to invest in proven, long-term, sustainable, community development ministries designed to provide a holistic, life-changing change in a community,” Dean Miller, Mission Development Staff Coordinator, said. “Our recent efforts in Nickelsville with the Southwest Virginia Project proved to be a good initial investment in the region, and we are happy to continue that concept.”

Why start a new TFH work in Virginia? Observation and statistical data confirm persistent poverty in this region is real. In Tazewell County, for example, 21% of children experience food insecurity. Many families do not qualify for federal child nutrition programs and must rely on charity to put food on their tables.

Though TFH partners believe hungry children are reason enough for a compassionate response in Southwest Virginia, they also aim to address systemic issues related to waning population and lack of meaningful work. TFH collaborates with local leaders to provide what is needed and to offer hope.

Thus far, leaders from the coalition have held three gatherings in Bluefield, Virginia, and West Virginia. Two gatherings were listening sessions with key leaders in the region; the third offered an Asset Mapping Experience. Participants discovered the region is blessed with gifted and passionate people who are excited about working together to make a difference.

Please pray for Together for Hope partners as they work with local leaders to discern direction and empower life-changing ministry in Southwest Virginia.

The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) is a cooperative missions and ministry organization that consists of over 1,400 autonomous churches in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as churches from Seoul, South Korea, Toronto, Ontario, the District of Columbia, and the states of California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.