November 21, 2016 | Glen Allen, Virginia – The 2016 SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming, held at First Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia on November 13-15, was historic for many reasons. This is the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, which was unanimously approved at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia in 1996. This year’s Homecoming brought a large crowd of more than 1,200 in attendance. 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 twentieth 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 twentieth 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 also announced in his Executive Director’s report on Monday night three major initiatives: a challenge for every church to adopt a local school, Virginia Global Response, and church revitalization. Virginia Global Response is a ministry initiative of the SBC of Virginia that provides a humanitarian and compassion 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.”
On the Saturday prior to the meeting, SBC of Virginia churches participated in Crossover Roanoke, a citywide evangelism effort similar to the annual Crossover event with the Southern Baptist Convention. More than 300 volunteers from 30 churches gathered to host door-to-door evangelism, block parties, and gas buy downs, as well as provide disaster relief supplies to recent flood-impacted families in the Covington area. Local church organizers say that 31 people decided to follow Jesus Christ by the end of this first-ever convention wide evangelism event.
“We’ve always been about the Gospel,” said Reggie Hester, SBC of Virginia Southeast Regional Missionary and Crossover Coordinator. “I can’t think of a better way to show our Gospel partnership then coming together and doing an event like this.”
Messengers approved 27 new churches for affiliation with SBC of Virginia that brought the total number of churches to 707.
A special reception was held Sunday before the evening service to honor founding members and former presidents, as well as 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.
“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, first Executive Director of the SBC of Virginia.
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.”
“From numbers so small that others regularly joked that the entire group could fit into a telephone booth to a convention of 707 churches and church plants, the evidence is clear – God is doing something special in the SBCV,” said Smith. “I’m thankful to God for all of our past convention leaders who were so instrumental in helping lay the foundation for what the SBCV has become today. I’m also grateful for a leader like Dr. Brian Autry who not only understands where God is leading us in the future but recognizes the wonderful examples of where we’ve come from in the past.”
Statistics reported in the 2015 annual church profile shared that there were 6,896 baptisms that took place with a 3.3% increase compared to 2014. Nearly 80,000 people participated in missions; a 20% increase from the previous year. Also, 59,675 young people enrolled in Vacation Bible School for a 20% increase since 2014.
Since October 2015, 18 new church planters and 9 church planter apprentices have been approved. This brings the total number of established church plants and small groups in Virginia and DC to 89. Slightly more than 10% of SBC of Virginia churches have partnered with SBC of Virginia church planters in 2016 alone.
SBC of Virginia churches continued the annual collection of backpacks for impoverished children in Appalachia. These backpacks are filled with school supplies and daily necessities that will be delivered in time for Christmas. SBC of Virginia churches collected a total of 2,312 backpacks for the Backpacks for Appalachia mission project. Many of these were brought to the North American Mission Board tractor-trailer at the Annual Homecoming while others were collected at other sites prior to the meeting. This provides around 800 more children with backpacks than the 1,500 collected in 2015.
Seven resolutions were unanimously approved to include On Revival and Spiritual Awakening for churches to unite and to pray for spiritual healing for our nation. Another resolution that speaks to the current culture, On Transgenderism and the Public Schools, call for churches to minister to those who self-identify as transgender and their families. (Click here to see full transcripts of resolutions: https://www.sbcv.org/wp-content/uploads/sbcv-ah16-resolutions.pdf.)
Dr. Bryan Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Roanoke, was elected 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.”
“I am truly humbled and honored to serve for a second year as president of the SBCV,” said Smith. “I am excited and want to encourage, promote, and support our united commitment as a convention of conservative Southern Baptist churches to evangelism and missions.”
The 2017 Ministry Investment Plan 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. This is the same amount from the 2016 ministry investment plan. (Click to see the full financial report: https://www.sbcv.org/wp-content/uploads/sbcv-ah16-finance-report.pdf)
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, Ohio, shared Monday afternoon with Dr. J.D. Payne, Pastor for Church Multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, who wrapped up the afternoon session. Pastor H.B. Charles Jr., Pastor-Teacher of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, preached Monday evening. Tuesday morning messages began with Dr. Bryan Smith and then Pastor Dhati Lewis, Lead Pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Georgia, completed the session by giving the challenge for SBC of Virginia churches not only to embrace the theme of Not Alone, but to consider as well as 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.
Pastor Rob Edwards from New Bridge Baptist Church in Sandston, Virginia shared that this gathering was especially meaningful to him. “The call to prayer on a personal and congregational level was the reminder that I needed about God’s sovereignty. I don’t need to change the culture nor the world, because ‘l’ can’t. But ‘He’ can. I am thankful that I belong to a convention that unabashedly calls its leaders to accountability regarding prayer.”
Charles Billingsley, music artist and worship leader of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, led special 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. The times of worship provided opportunities to encounter the Lord and receive from Him strength to return to my church field. The Tuesday morning prayer time was especially meaningful. I have found Homecoming, as well as other SBCV events, always high quality and relevant. It is evident that a great deal of planning has preceded each event. The SBCV staff works diligently to assure that those attending feel welcomed and have an experience that will impact them well into the future.”