The 2016 SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming, held at First Baptist Church of Roanoke on November 13–15, was historic for many reasons. It celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1996 vote in Richmond to make the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia a state convention. This year’s Homecoming brought a large crowd of more than 1,200. Messengers unanimously elected the SBC of Virginia’s first Hispanic officer. This time of fellowship, encouragement, and reporting focused on the theme that we are Not Alone in our Gospel partnership of churches.
Dr. Bryan Smith, president of the SBC of Virginia and host pastor, shared, “This year’s convention theme, Not Alone, was a wonderful description of the special celebrations and thanksgivings which helped to make this year’s 20th anniversary Homecoming so very special for all of us who were blessed to attend.”
Executive Director Brian Autry said, “In celebrating the SBC of Virginia’s 20th anniversary, we now have more than 700 Southern Baptist churches partnering together—smaller churches to some of the largest SBC churches from across Virginia and Metro DC—united with a bold commitment to the Great Commission and God’s Word.”
Autry announced in his Executive Director’s Report on Monday night three major initiatives: 1) a challenge for every church to adopt a local school; 2) Virginia Global Response; and 3) church revitalization. Virginia Global Response is a ministry initiative of the SBC of Virginia that provides a humanitarian and compassionate ministry platform for churches and individuals to be mobilized for rapid response and ongoing ministry. Autry said, “Because of our Gospel partnership, churches are being strengthened, Christians are being mobilized, churches are planting churches, and disciples are being made.” Regarding church revitalization, he stated, “Our goal is that no church be left behind as we seek to advance the Great Commission.”
Messengers approved 27 new churches for affiliation with the SBC of Virginia, which brought the total number of SBCV churches to 707.
A special reception was held Sunday before the evening session to honor founding members and former presidents and reflect on 20 years of ministry. “To be a part of the SBCV has been one of the richest, most rewarding blessings of my life,” said Pastor Carl Weiser from Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Rustburg.
“You know people ask us, ‘How did it happen?’ To be perfectly honest, we have to say it was a God thing from beginning to end,” said David Johnson, former pastor of Rileyville Baptist Church in Rileyville, who went home to be with the Lord just a couple of weeks after Annual Homecoming.
“If you want to look at the history of SBCV, you’ve got to take into consideration the lay people—they played a major role,” said Doyle Chauncey, SBCV’s first executive director.
Evangelist Bob Davis, one of the original founders, said, “It felt really good to see what God did with a handful of men who met in a hotel room to pray for God to do something unusual through them.”
Statistics from the 2015 Annual Church Profile were reported, which showed that there were 6,896 baptisms that took place—a 3.3% increase from 2014. Nearly 80,000 people participated in missions—a 20% increase. In addition, 59,675 young people were enrolled in Vacation Bible School—a 20% increase.
Since October 2015, 18 new church planters and 9 church planter apprentices were approved. The total number of SBCV church plants and small groups is currently 89, and slightly more than 10% of SBC of Virginia churches partnered with SBCV church planters in 2016 alone.
Seven resolutions were unanimously approved, including On Revival and Spiritual Awakening, which encouraged churches to unite and to pray for spiritual healing for our nation. Another resolution that spoke to the current culture, On Transgenderism and the Public Schools, called for churches to minister to those who self-identify as transgender and to their families. (For a full transcript of the resolutions, go to sbcv.org/2016resolutions)
Dr. Bryan Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church of Roanoke, was elected for a second term as president; Rev. Greg Brinson, pastor of London Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, was elected as first vice president; Rev. Carlos Payan, pastor of Iglesia de las Americas in Lynchburg, was elected as second vice president; and Rev. James Ford, discipleship pastor of The Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, was elected for a second term as secretary.
“It is an honor and privilege to serve as the second vice president of our state convention,” said Payan. “I am proud of the multicultural openness of our convention. I pledge to represent our convention responsibly to the churches of our state and to continue promoting the conservative values that our convention supports, both in the new churches and those that are to be added.”
The 2017 Ministry Investment Plan (MIP) in the amount of $9,200,000 was unanimously approved, with 51% of funds allocated to the Southern Baptist Convention and the remaining 49% for the ministries of the SBC of Virginia. The 2017 MIP amount and the allocation are the same as the 2016 MIP. (For the full financial report, go to sbcv.org/2016financereport)
Annual Homecoming keynote speakers included Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who shared Sunday night. Dr. Dave Earley, lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Grove City, OH, shared Monday afternoon, and Dr. J.D. Payne, pastor for Church Multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL, wrapped up the afternoon session. Pastor H.B. Charles Jr., pastor-teacher of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, preached Monday evening. Tuesday morning messages began with Dr. Bryan Smith, and Pastor Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, GA, completed the session by giving the challenge for SBC of Virginia churches to embrace the theme of Not Alone and to also consider those with whom they were ministering. The message brought pastors to the altar and Lewis to tears as the challenge was shared to pray for God to reconcile our divided nation.
Charles Billingsley, music artist and worship leader of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, led worship throughout Homecoming. Sunday night included the music group, Not Easily Broken. The First Baptist Church of Roanoke choir and praise team, led by Marty Hamby and Kory Van Matre, also sang on Sunday night. LU Praise from Liberty University performed Monday night, along with choirs from Franklin Heights Baptist Church in Rocky Mount and Cave Spring Baptist Church in Roanoke.
Pastor David Slayton from South Norfolk Baptist Church in Chesapeake said he is already looking forward to next year. “Homecoming 2016 was a great encouragement! The messages spoke to where I am both in life and ministry.”
Mark your calendar for the next Annual Homecoming, November 12–14, 2017 at The Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights!