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Virginia Baptists are Learning and Connecting

Virginia Baptist Mission Board staff watch a video about Cesar Sotomayor, a BGAV church planter in Austria.
Virginia Baptist Mission Board staff watch a video about Cesar Sotomayor, a BGAV church planter in Austria.

This week, Virginia Baptists have had several opportunities to learn and connect with leaders from Virginia, California, and beyond.

A significant group of Virginia Baptist leaders and pastors flew out to Southern California this week to meet with leaders from Saddleback Church.

John Chandler, Spence Network Leader, shared more about this group and what they’re doing:

Virginia Baptist pastors hear from David Chrzan, Chief of Staff at Saddleback.
Virginia Baptist pastors hear from David Chrzan, Chief of Staff at Saddleback.

This is the 8th gathering of the Transformational Pastors Network, this year hosted by former Highlands Fellowship pastor Jimmie and Lori Davidson.

Eighteen couples of churches that are thought and practice leaders in BGAV life are learning together and are building the relational connections and trust that have already built many platforms for collaboration.

This week, we are hearing from key staff leaders at Saddleback Church, which has grown from 18,000 to 27,000 in the last few years, and has more people in small groups than in weekly worship attendance.

The sessions are largely conversational and interactive, lots of energy and commonality built around complex ministries and issues of scale in leadership.

While that group was learning on the West Coast yesterday, VBMB staff gathered for “Team Day”. John Upton, Executive Director, shared a reminder with staff that “we serve the churches and want you to meet with some of them today.”

Our first guest was Chuck Warnock, pastor of Chatham Baptist Church, who skyped in from his office. He shared about himself, the church and its community, and some of the challenges they face.

Staff members were able to ask questions of Chuck. A connection was made between Chuck and Eddie Heath, Field Strategist for the Tidewater Region, about a potential opportunity for shared ministry and learning.

Calvin Birch shares his church's challenges and victories with Mission Board staff.
Calvin Birch shares his church’s challenges and victories with Mission Board staff.

Calvin Birch, pastor of African Community Christian Church in Richmond, visited with staff as well. He shared about his congregation which has many immigrants from Liberia.

First and foremost on their minds and hearts is the Ebola crisis. Several church members have lost friends and family members to the disease. Frustration and heartache abound as church members feel helpless.

Dean Miller than introduced a few videos of interviews with Cesar Sotomayor, a church planter in Vienna, Austria. Cesar is originally from Mexico and works with Arabic refugees from Iraq and Syria.

Staff members were amazed with all that God is doing through Cesar. We’ll post more about Cesar in the near future so you can learn more about this awesome ministry.