SBCV demonstrates They Are Not Alone through sermons, stories, and service projects.
November 26, 2018 | Hampton, Virginia – “Over the past few years, the SBC of Virginia has stated clearly and emphatically that churches are not alone,” emphasized Dr. Brian Autry, executive director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV). “However, we join in gospel partnership not just for our mutual benefit but to reach our neighbors and the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are not alone so they are not alone.”
They Are Not Alone was the theme carried throughout the Annual Homecoming of the SBCV. Worship, sermons, breakouts, and business meetings were part of the November 11-13 event at LibertyLive.Church in Hampton, Virginia. A total of 1,691 people attended that were made up of 803 messengers and 888 guests from 263 churches.
Many SBCV church messengers brought backpacks with them to the meeting. This was part of the Christmas Backpacks mission project that provides school and hygiene supplies, gifts, and the Gospel message for children in need in Appalachia. More than 3,900 backpacks were loaded into the North American Mission Board Send Relief tractor trailer. The backpacks will be distributed just in time for Christmas.
This was the first gathering since the SBCV executive board approved in its October meeting the official use of the convention DBA (Doing Business As) names. While the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia is still the founding name, SBCV will now use the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia and SBC of Virginia.
One day prior to the start of the Annual Homecoming celebration, a neighboring city received concerted evangelistic outreach through the crossover event, Bless Portsmouth. More than 300 volunteers from 19 churches, including 30 volunteers from West Virginia, took to the streets and completed 11 projects. Projects included landscaping and painting at local schools, installing smoke detectors, teaching young men basic life skills, encouraging battered women, and preparing 69,000 meals for families in need locally and nationally. The purpose for Bless Portsmouth was to glorify God and share the Gospel, which led to the confession of faith of three people.
“You took the time to come to a city that you knew needed the Gospel, and you were willing to come to work and serve,” said James Taylor, Jr, pastor of the Village Church of Portsmouth. “And that is all that you can ask from somebody so thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you!”
The Gospel was also shared throughout the three days of meetings with worship and each keynote speaker. Praise and worship were led by LU Praise from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and the worship team and choir of LibertyLive.Church in Hampton. Keynote speakers included David Platt, teaching pastor of McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia and former president of the International Mission Board (IMB), who led Sunday night. His message included a Spirit-led moment of the congregation praying and crying out to the Lord.
“If you want to live, you have to die to sin,” Platt shared on Sunday evening. “We are prone to sin, but that’s just it. We hate that. We hate that we are prone to sin. We don’t want to sin. And when we do, we confess it before God and before others, and we repent, we turn from it. We don’t toy with it. We don’t treat sin. We run from it.”
Messages were also shared by Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana; Edgar Aponte, vice president of Mobilization at the IMB; David Wheeler, professor of evangelism and executive director of the Center for Ministry Training at Liberty University; Ben Gutierrez, professor at Liberty University’s School of Divinity; Eric Thomas, senior pastor of First Norfolk Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia and president of the SBCV; and Brian Autry, executive director of the SBC of Virginia.
“Our Annual Homecoming is so vitally important,” shared Thomas. “Perhaps my favorite moment was listening to Pastor Billy Gwinn from Saltville, Virginia talk about sharing the Gospel and seeing God do amazing things through His church. What an inspiration to see what God can do through His people simply sharing the Gospel.”
Thomas was elected to his second term as president of the SBC of Virginia. Pastor Tim Ma of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Manassas, Virginia was also re-elected as secretary. Pastor Rob Pochek of First Baptist Church of Charlottesville, Virginia was elected as first vice-president. Pastor Charles Maney of Mt. Tirzah Baptist Church in Charlotte Courthouse, Virginia was elected as second vice-president. Each election received a unanimous decision.
“I’ve attended annual meetings in other states,” shared Pochek. “But none compare to the time of spiritual refreshing that occurs at the SBCV Homecoming. Our annual gathering includes worship and preaching, with a few reports and a little business sprinkled in. I left the SBCV Homecoming more in love with Jesus and more committed to his mission than I was when I arrived.”
“To be elected as an officer was so humbling,” Maney shared. “And it also communicated to me as a pastor of a small church that we are not alone in the mission that Jesus has given to us. In the SBC of Virginia, everyone’s voice matters, and we are truly blessed to be a part of this great state convention. I am just so thrilled to be a part of such a loving and growing family.”
“SBCV Homecoming is an assembly of grace,” Ma added. “We thank the LORD when it happens, as we thank Him when rain refreshes the land (Psalm 68:9). For me, the best part is seeing the Word replenish hearts. It’s a blessing to serve.”
The 2018 Annual Homecoming included the launch of the evangelistic-outreach tool, Bless Every Home. Messengers and guests were encouraged to register as a light in their community. The interactive mapping center creates a live accountability prompting daily to pray, care, share, and disciple their neighbors.
Monday afternoon included a special lunch to honor our veterans. In 2012, the Praetorian Project was adopted by SBCV churches at the Annual Homecoming to plant churches among marine corps bases around the world. One of those now nine church plants is in Twentynine Palms, California. Roy Garza and his family were sent to pastor this church from Pillar Church in Stafford, Virginia. The Praetorian Project was highlighted during the lunch and received a check for $12,000 from SBCV churches to continue the mission. This was followed up with a message from Retired U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains (General) Douglas L. Carver and executive director of chaplain services for the North American Mission Board.
“One of the highlights from this year’s Homecoming was hearing about the impact that the Praetorian Project has had on military bases,” shared Pastor Doug Echols, senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Yorktown, Virginia and chairman of the SBCV executive board. “I remember being at the meeting seven years ago and hearing the vision that was cast. It was exciting to see the fulfillment of that vision and to hear what God is currently doing in places like Twentynine Palms, California.”
The Cooperative Ministry Investment Plan (MIP) for 2019 was unanimously approved for $9,804,000 – an increase in CP gifts of $100,000 over 2018. While $9,400,000 is to come from SBCV churches through Cooperative Program gifts, another $404,000 was approved to come through a combination of gifts from SBC of Virginia Foundation, North American Mission Board, and LifeWay Christian Resources. Fifty-one percent of CP gifts will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention ($4,794,000) including 3.26% for Cooperative Program resourcing ($306,440). The percentages are unchanged from 2018.
Six resolutions were unanimously passed. Resolutions included the condemning of religious violence against Jewish people in relation to the recent mass shooting, inerrancy and authority to Scripture, reinforcing the impact of disaster relief, appreciation for armed forces, prayer for the President of the United States and other national leaders, and appreciation of LibertyLive.Church for hosting Annual Homecoming.
SBCV welcomed 28 new church affiliations at Annual Homecoming that brings the total to 740 churches. The event also provided 19 ministry topic breakout sessions that were well attended and 43 exhibitors that included a LifeWay store and a Mission Trip Scholarship drawing.
The 2019 Annual Homecoming will be held at First Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia on November 10-12. Keynote speakers slated to take the stage include O.S. Hawkins, H.B. Charles, Vance Pitman, and Ken Whitten.
— Written by Ishmael LaBiosa, Director of Communications, SBC of Virginia —