SBC of Virginia adds 41 churches; adopts $8.2M transition budget

HAMPTON, Va. (BP)--The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia added 41 churches to its ranks and adopted an $8.2 million budget in its annual Bible conference and convention at Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., Oct. 9-10.

The 1,000-seat gymnasium was near capacity as hundreds joined with more than 500 registered messengers and about 140 guests in the two-day meeting.

Punctuated by sermons and singing, the meeting offered accounts from SBCV ministries that reported nine new church starts, which helped bring the SBCV's ranks to 292 churches; 3,658 baptisms; missions offerings that exceeded goals; SBCV worldwide missions; campus ministries, where the gospel is shared and students accept Christ; church leadership and women's conferences that drew thousands of Virginia Baptists; and details about SBCV evangelistic efforts using satellite and Internet technology.

"For two years in a row, on average, a church aligns with us every nine days," said Doyle Chauncey, SBCV's executive director/treasurer. "We are continually humbled by God's blessings upon us."

Fifty-six of the SBCV's 292 churches are dually aligned with the Baptist General Association of Virginia. Officially recognized by the Southern Baptist Convention as a state Baptist convention in 1996, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia left the BGAV in 1992 due to theological differences.

The SBCV continues to support the Cooperative Program in a manner unexcelled by any other state Baptist convention, Chauncey noted, by sharing undesignated receipts on a 50-50 basis.

Highlights of Chauncey's report included the announcement of two SBCV nonprofit subsidiaries: SBC of Virginia Financial Services, Inc., which will provide low-interest loans to qualifying SBCV churches, and the SBC of Virginia Foundation, which "is essential for the financial future of the SBCV in providing services for local churches for financial planning," Chauncey said.

Chauncey also explained why the SBCV adopted a 15-month budget: "We are moving to a fiscal year that reflects a calendar year, so there are three extra months in this budget." Last year the SBCV adopted a $4.1 million budget and also voted to change its fiscal year.

Ken Nienke, SBC of Virginia's church planting coordinator, drew applause when he reported that 171 people were baptized during the last 12 months in the SBCV's newest churches. The SBCV has planted 25 churches in the last five years, nine in the last year.

SBCV church leadership coordinator Mark Baldwin said 37 percent "of our churches have been through FAITH evangelism training. That's the largest percentage of FAITH-trained churches in the entire Southern Baptist Convention."

Messengers to the meeting unanimously passed four resolutions, including one in support of the Cooperative Program. The resolution noted Cooperative Program changes proposed by leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and urged "all Southern Baptists in Texas and other states to stand with us as we resist those who would seek to dismantle the greatest method of Christian missions support and ministry training ever known."

A resolution in support of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was adopted "in the spirit of convictional belief and as a demonstration of support for the current direction of the Southern Baptist Convention ... ."

Chauncey had earlier said in his report regarding the BFM, "The truth is that liberals have used the phrase, 'The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ,' which is found in the 1963 BFM, as carte blanche to place their interpretation and personal experience above that of the Bible." The phrase his report cites no longer appears in the BFM.

A resolution in defense of unborn and partially-born human life described and decried partial-birth abortion and condemned as murder the use of the recently approved abortive RU-486, which "likens the God-given miracle of pregnancy to a headache and will doubtlessly increase the number of abortions."

A fourth resolution expressed thanks to Liberty Baptist Church for use of its facilities. Complete texts of the first three resolutions are available at www.sbcv.org.

Messengers elected new officers by acclamation: president, John Marks, pastor of Kingsland Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.; first vice president, John Simms, a layman from First Baptist Church, Roanoke; second vice president, Gary Burden, pastor of Bethany Place Baptist Church, Richmond; and secretary, Doug Echols of Enon Baptist Church in Chester.

Bill White, SBCV evangelism associate, fills a new position. He reported to messengers plans to aid churches in website development and also described the SBCV's new Evangelism Response Center relationship with the North American Mission Board. The ERC routes calls from people seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ to trained counselors and encouragers who live closest to the seeker. White noted the SBCV is offering four training session via satellite, two each in the SBCV's Richmond and Roanoke offices.

Criswell College evangelism professor Alan Streett delivered a sermonic theme interpretation on the topic, "Speaking the Truth in Love." Preaching from Ephesians 4:15, Streett said, "The conservative resurgence has been about the truth. Now it's time to stand for the truth in love. Speaking the truth is not the mark of maturity, but speaking the truth in love is the mark of maturity. Let's handle the truth like the Master."

Other preachers addressing the crowd were Danny Forshee, pastor of the host church; Roy J. Fish, emeritus professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; O.S. Hawkins, president of the SBC's Annuity Board; and John Avant, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ga.

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., concluded the meeting with a sermon and invitation that had scores of pastors and laypeople on their knees near the platform, weeping and praying. Hunt was joined at the meeting by Scott White, FBC Woodstock's worship leader, and a male quintet from the same church called "This Hope."

The SBCV's 2001 annual meeting will be in Richmond, Nov. 12-13.


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