Posted: 11/13/19 at 8:30am. Article by Will Cumbia.
ROANOKE, VA — The first full day of the 196th Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) opened at 8:45am with President Richard Martin presiding.
Chris Cadenhead, pastor of Bonsack Baptist Church, brought warm greetings on the snowy Tuesday morning, before the Uptick Artists led a spirit-filled acoustic set of worship. Their own song, written to the tune of “Come Thou Fount” with words, “Sing a new church into being, one in faith and love and praise,” was a powerful and apt way to start a day focused on the theme of “Renew.”
Several reports were offered, including those from the clerk and program committee. Nominations were made for boards and committees.
Kristen White, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Red Oak, VA, challenged the notion of convenience in church, preaching from the story of Lydia in Acts 16. She encouraged messengers to “be found faithful, especially when it is inconvenient.”
In his treasurer’s report, David Washburn, BGAV Treasurer, reviewed the current BGAV budget and expenditures. He thanked the messengers gathered for their faithful giving to BGAV in 2019, noting that as of the time of the Annual Meeting, the BGAV was in “a favorable position” for meeting the expected 2019 budget.
Under Dr. Kevin Meadows’ leadership, reports were offered from the Executive Board regarding actions, observances, and special offerings.
John Upton presented resolutions of appreciation for William J. (Jeff) Cranford, who retired from BGAV’s Congregational Field Staff after serving as the Central Region Field Strategist and Compensation Planning Specialist, and Stephen Richerson, who retired as President and Executive Director of HopeTree Family Services.
David Washburn then presented the proposed 2020 budget of $9.1 million—the same amount as last year. The budget was discussed in an afternoon breakout session.
After an intermission, attendees joined together in worship, led once again by the Uptick Artists..
John Upton gave the Executive Director’s report, emphasizing BGAV’s continued commitment to theological education in Virginia. He welcomed William Shiell, President of Northern Seminary in Chicago, to announce a new partnership offering online theological degrees from Northern Seminary for students from BGAV churches.
Upton continued on to highlight the deep roots of the BGAV and how those roots have brought forth exciting green shoots. He welcomed participants into a conversation over the next year to explore and discuss what the BGAV will look like as it honors its commitment to both the local church and broader movemental ministries. He wrapped up his report announcing that BGAV had reached the goal of a six-year partnership with the Ghana Baptist Convention called “More Than Nets,” distributing 100,000 mosquito nets and planting over 5,000 churches in villages across northern Ghana.
Dr. Don Davidson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Alexandria, shared the second message of the morning, drawing from the words of Jeremiah 29. He encouraged those present to seek peace and prosperity for those in their cities, sharing Christ and praying for those around them regardless of their context.
Uptick Artists finished the morning session in worship, and then a lunch was provided by the Virginia Baptist Disaster Response team.
In the afternoon, participants attended a wide array of breakout sessions, including sessions ranging from topics on church governance, to creating a culture of discipleship in churches, to ways to revitalize the church, and many more.
The evening worship service, presided over by Jay Lawson, began with a beautiful and diverse set of songs by the Bonsack Baptist Church choir and musicians, led by Grant Frederick, Bonsack’s Minister of Music.
Alia Abboud, the Director of Development and Partner Relations at the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development (LSESD), shared inspiring stories of God working through Lebanese Baptist churches. The Lebanese Baptists are sacrificially serving refugees from Syria, Lebanon’s historic enemy, who have fled to Lebanon due to the Syrian Civil War. Abboud said, “Through this ministry of compassion, through loving those whom we would call the enemy, God is teaching us that if we are to be salt and light, we have to come out of isolation.”
Dean Miller, BGAV Mission Development Staff Coordinator, shared more about how the BGAV is partnering with organizations doing refugee work in Lebanon, Croatia, Austria, and Virginia, in a new partnership called focus:refugees. He introduced the online BGAV Missions gift catalog and invited participants to give towards refugee work as Toma Magda, director of Croatian Baptist Aid prayed over the offering.
Scot McKnight, after a delayed arrival due to inclement weather, gave his first keynote address. He started by addressing the recent uncovering of widespread abuse of power and sexual misconduct of the church across the world.
In a heartfelt plea, he said, “I long for a culture where pastors and leaders and congregations promote a kind of Christianity…where (others) look…and say: that is a safe place.” He then outlined three ways churches can build cultures of goodness and become safe places.
He charged his listeners to build churches that are built on people first, that are committed to work of Christlike formation, and where members take their priestly responsibility seriously as they are in community with others.
After a resounding chorus of “How Marvelous, How Wonderful,” Melanie Lassiter gave the final benediction, closing out a spirit-filled day.
The annual meeting continues Wednesday morning at 8:45am with the second business session.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) is a cooperative missions and ministry organization that consists of over 1,360 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, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.