Governance shift approved by BGAV

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- At its 191st annual meeting, the Baptist General Association of Virginia approved what many of those involved may be calling the most significant shift in its governance in nearly 100 years by voting on changes to its constitution/bylaws. The 1,400-church organization is seeking to become more strategic in a more timely and efficient manner while maintaining effective representation from its diverse members.

According to the new plan, authority for policy making will move away from the 97-member Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB). A new 21-member Executive Board will gain that authority, and a new Mission Council of up to 120 members will work together in a consulting capacity.

Another significant change is the responsibility of creating the annual budget, which is currently held by a separate budget committee. In the proposed new structure, the Executive Board will develop annual budgets. The changes go into effect immediately.

The 2015 BGAV budget, presented by Chuck Harrison, budget committee chairman, was approved during the Nov. 11-12 meeting at $11.5 million. It is $700,000 less than the 2014 budget. The BGAV Budget Committee developed and recommended the budget because projected revenues in 2015 are between $11.3 and $11.5 million.

As in previous years, the budget divides allocations between BGAV ministries and partners -- which in 2015 will be $8,280,000 -- and world mission causes, totaling $3,220,000 next year.

The BGAV offers three preset giving tracks to its churches, and it provides a fourth option for churches to customize their giving. Those options will not be affected by the reduced budget.

The percentage divisions:

-- The World Missions 1 track provides 66 percent for Virginia ministries and 34 percent for Southern Baptist Convention ministries.

-- The World Missions 2 track provides 72 percent for BGAV ministries and 28 percent for a combination of Virginia, SBC, CBF and other ministries.

-- The World Missions 3 track provides 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ministries.

The BGAV elected its new officers for 2015 at its annual meeting, which drew more than 902 guests and messengers. Ann Brown, a member of First Baptist Church in Gretna, will serve next year as president, and Nancy Stanton McDaniel, pastor of Rhoadesville Baptist Church, will be first vice president.

Two others were elected as officers: second vice president will be Bill Nieporte, senior pastor of Patterson Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, and Fred Anderson, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, will continue his role as clerk.

During his report, John V. Upton, Jr., BGAV executive director,

unveiled that the BGAV continues to grow in its involvement with more states and overseas, including a church in Seoul, South Korea. Upton introduced two videos about BGAV churches in Hawaii and New York.

Emmanuel "Muss" Mustapha joined Upton on stage, bringing greetings from Ghana. To loud applause, he shared that 186 churches have been planted, and there has been a 42 percent decrease in malaria in several districts. "Thank you for your support of the More Than Nets project," Mustapha said.

Messengers heard reports that Virginia Baptist relief staff helped send meals to Ebola-stricken Liberia. And they were also challenged by a video calling out pioneers to develop worship communities outside the traditional church.

Upton concluded with gratitude, "You're civil, gracious, and reasonable. You have a heart for the 'not yet.' May that heart only grow bigger. You always give sacrificially for the mission set before us. I am proud to be part of the BGAV."

The BGAV is a cooperative missions and ministry organization that consists of more than 1,400 autonomous churches in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as churches from Seoul, South Korea, the District of Columbia, and the states of California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

Next year's meeting of the BGAV is scheduled for Nov. 10-11 in Richmond.

Paige Peak is assistant executive director & chief communications officer for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (http://vbmb.org) of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
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