National leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention invested time with pastors and lay leaders during the May meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia (SBC of Virginia or SBCV) Executive Board. The SBC of Virginia reviewed some of the major ministry highlights from the past six months at their semi-annual executive board meeting.
The Board, which met on May 6-7 in Glen Allen, Virginia, opened with a short video message from newly elected president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, Ronnie Floyd. Floyd spoke about his transition into his new position.
“Pray for the Convention itself that God would meet us in a very strong way,” Floyd said. “We’re in a real difficult and challenging season now. While so many wonderful things are going on, many in your own state, we also know we are facing major challenges. I appeal to you that God would give us wisdom.”
Dr. Brian Autry, executive director of the SBC of Virginia, updated board members on year two of a major focus on church revitalization. Thom Rainer, founder and CEO of Church Answers and Revitalize Network, shared through a video how the SBC of Virginia is one of the first state conventions to utilize these new revitalization tools and resources on a larger scale.
“It’s my desire that what we do at Revitalize Network will be a Kingdom partnership that will make a difference in the lives of leaders and congregations that will mean so much transformation for so many communities throughout your state,” Rainer said.
SBCV executive board members traveled to the International Learning Center of the International Mission Board (IMB) to spend time with President Paul Chitwood. Chitwood emphasized that the financial and missional partnership between the IMB and the state conventions is crucial for fulfilling the Great Commission worldwide.
“The pastors and their ministry peers shepherd 143 IMB overseas personnel who claim Virginia as home, as well as hundreds of IMB staff members who live in the Richmond area,” Chitwood said. “And they led their churches to give in excess of $3.7 million through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® to support Southern Baptist work overseas in addition to $9.4 million last year through the Cooperative Program. The IMB doesn’t exist without faithful, supportive pastors and churches.”
Chitwood expressed his thankfulness for Dr. Autry and asked for prayer for the Gospel ministry of the IMB throughout the world.
Chitwood continued, “I’ve done the math, and the overwhelming majority of financial support for the IMB comes through our state conventions like the SBCV. They are essential partners in the Great Commission. Pray for our missionaries and their families and pray God would grant me wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.”
SBC of Virginia Women’s Ministry Strategist, Donna Paulk, shared how God is working through regional leaders and resources. Already in 2019, more than 2,000 women have attended multiple leadership and training events. The largest event was sold out with 1,000 in attendance at the Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights led by Lysa Terkeurst.
“We are providing tools for women through these events to help them grow and know that there is no one who is alone in their spiritual battles,” Paulk said.
Colby Garman, pastor of Pillar Church in Dumfries, serves as the Church Planting Committee executive chairman. Garman shared that one of the biggest areas of church planting growth has come in the area of Loudoun County. Located in northern Virginia, it is one of the fastest growing counties in America.
“Five years ago, in Loudoun County there were zero SBCV church plants,” Garman said. “There are now currently four English-speaking church plants and two Spanish-speaking. It’s a great example of the partnerships we have in the north region of the SBC of Virginia with churches and national partners like the Send Network.”
Executive board members unanimously approved 26 seminary scholarships totaling $33,400 and 48 intern scholarships totaling $72,000 thanks to gifts through Vision Virginia, the SBCV missions offering. Also, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal for the SBCV received unanimous approval to be set at $3.7 million. Cooperative Program gifts provided through SBCV churches are reported to be up 3% compared to last year.
Other highlights of the meeting include the Bless Every Home evangelism strategy. This resource has helped adopt more than 100,000 households since November of 2018 with 164 SBC of Virginia churches as part of that outreach.
The recent Virginia March for Life brought in approximately 7,000 people to the state capitol. Victoria Cobb, executive director of The Family Foundation of Virginia, expressed deep gratitude for the role of the SBC of Virginia in supporting the event.
“We were so thrilled to have so many of you from the SBC of Virginia to be with us at this event,” Cobb said. “We’re going to make sure that we turn this moment into a movement, and we’re going to make this an annual event.”
In a special moment of recognition, the executive board and SBCV staff honored church planting and people group strategist, Larry Black, for his 14 years of service. He is retiring from his role with the SBCV and moving, with his wife, Margaret, to the Stone Mountain area of Georgia to help local ministries there and be closer to family. Throughout his ministry in Virginia, he has helped plant, strengthen, and challenge multiple churches as well as recruit and mentor many ethnic church planters from Richmond to northern Virginia and Washington, DC.
“We are dependent upon the Lord and we ought to be people of prayer,” Autry said. “There are times in either our personal lives or in our churches that we need to be reminded of who is in charge and who is in control. We must continue to go back and never forget that we’re dependent upon the Lord.”