One of the loudest cheers of affirmation at the 2014 Southern Baptist Conservatives (SBC) of Virginia Annual Homecoming was heard after a resolution on biblical marriage was read to the messengers and guests.
Nearly 1,000 messengers and guests attended the Nov. 9-11 annual meeting at The Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights.
“We were challenged, encouraged and built up in the Lord,” said host pastor Randy Hahn said. “Oh, and we got some business done also. So grateful for the SBC of Virginia and its leadership that gives us opportunity to be so blessed in coming together for the work of the Lord. Annual Homecoming is a revival!”
This year’s theme, “Strong Churches with a Bold Commitment to the Great Commission,” was woven throughout the meeting, including sermons by keynote speakers Alistair Begg, Eric Geiger, Grant Ethridge and John Marshall.
Begg, drawing from 2 Timothy 3:14-17, noted that Timothy was not about magnifying himself. “He was like a styrofoam cup which has significance only in that which it contains. It is disposable. It will be gone in a moment,” Begg said. “It only has benefit on the strength of that which is in it.”
Begg also spoke to 128 church planters and sponsors during a special dinner where he reminded them of the importance of staying true to the Word of God. Later that evening to the entire convention, he reminded attendees that the task of pastors is one of a constant reminder, like parents do with their children. “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. We are people of The Book. People become convinced by the scriptures. Only God can soften hearts and give hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind.”
Brian Autry, SBC of Virginia’s executive director, gave a virtual missions tour around the Commonwealth in his Monday night report. He highlighted the efforts to reach Muslims in the Washington, D.C., metro area and in urban outreach in the Southeast, then called attendees to gather around church planters for a special time of prayer.
“Our Annual Homecoming was totally about the business of being boldly committed to the Great Commission,” Autry said. “From celebrating disaster relief volunteers, to praying over church planters and partner churches, to encouraging churches in the midst of revitalization, our focus is on honoring and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Autry highlighted the story of pastor Don Paxton and how he and a mission team from Rosedale Baptist Church partnered with a church planter in northern Virginia to bring physical help along with the gospel at an Arab festival attended by some 10,000 people.
Four resolutions were approved unanimously by the messengers: Gratitude to the Lord and The Heights Baptist Church, Appreciation for Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Reaffirmation of Biblical Marriage, and Gratitude to the SBC of Virginia Disaster Relief Team. The text of the marriage and Forbes resolutions follow this story.
Mission Service Corps couple Matt and Susan Clonch were commissioned on Monday evening to reach hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Representatives from their sponsor church, Fincastle Baptist, and the Executive Board’s missions and communications committee prayed over them.
Messengers approved a 2015 Ministry Investment Plan of $9,000,000, the same amount as 2014. SBC of Virginia treasurer Eddie Urbine said the budget allocates 51 percent for SBC ministries and promotion and 49 percent for SBC of Virginia ministries. Since the inception of the SBC of Virginia, $116,374,396 has been given through the Cooperative Program.
Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, encouraged messengers in the work they are doing for the Lord through the local church and through the SBC of Virginia. But he also exhorted them to increase their missions giving to see even more Kingdom impact.
Messengers unanimously re-elected Grant Ethridge, senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, as convention president.
“The reports of what God is doing in church planting and church mobilization to reach different people groups in Virginia were nothing short of miraculous,” Ethridge said. “God is moving and I have never been more proud to be a part of the family called SBC of Virginia.
“But the annual pep rally is over. Now is the time to be bold in our praying and preaching. Now is the time to be bold in our living and giving. Now is the time to cry out to God for revival in the church and spiritual awakening in our nation.”
The convention’s other officers also were elected unanimously: First vice president Brad Russell, senior pastor of Old Powhatan Baptist Church in Powhatan; second vice president Brent Vickery, senior pastor of Ramoth Baptist Church in Stafford; and secretary Matthew Kirkland, senior pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Christiansburg.
On both Monday and Tuesday afternoon, hundreds attended special luncheons. Monday’s lunch celebrated disaster relief volunteers with guest speaker Congressman Randy Forbes. Tuesday’s lunch highlighted SBC of Virginia’s Acts 1:8 Network with missionary and author Nik Ripken.
Autry, thankful for the atmosphere of highlighting missions throughout the entire three days, said, “Seeing pastors and church leaders representing various nations and generations at our Annual Homecoming serves as a reminder that we are living in the midst of a harvest field. We must work together to bring in the harvest.”
The gathering also featured a hands-on mission opportunity. Nearly 1,500 backpacks from more than 40 churches were loaded into a North America Mission Board tractor-trailer to be delivered just in time for children in need at Christmas.
Jerry Daniel, Love Loud team leader for the North American Mission Board, spoke of the importance of local churches connecting to the mission project, noting, “It’s a way for people to express generosity and compassion. A lot of churches enjoy encouraging their children to be a part of packing the backpacks because they get to talk about sharing and be concerned for those who have needs.”
Scott Bullman and the Sounds of Liberty from Liberty University led worship throughout the meeting. On Sunday evening, The Heights praise team, orchestra and choir led worship. On Monday evening, recording artist TaRanda Green joined the Sounds of Liberty and a combined choir from multiple SBC of Virginia churches for a special time of worship.
Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton will host the 2015 SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming Nov. 8-10. Keynote speakers will include Ronnie Floyd, Vance Pittman, K. Marshall Williams and Dennis Swanberg.
Following are SBC of Virginia resolutions on marriage and Congressman Randy Forbes
ON A REAFFIRMATION OF BIBLICAL MARRIAGE
WHEREAS, we the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and is the lens through which we see and understand God’s gracious and loving design for marriage, (Gen 2:24) and
WHEREAS the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and its affiliated Churches reaffirm the historic and biblical definition of marriage, and the need for it in our society; and
WHEREAS we affirm Article III section 1 of the Southern Baptist Convention Constitution which states, “Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior” and
WHEREAS some within our current culture, and judicial system, promote and recognize alternate definitions of marriage in an increasing number of states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, Be it
RESOLVED that we affirm that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: marriage, as instituted by God, is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, permanent, exclusive union. (Genesis 1:27; 2:24-25; Matthew 19:4-6) God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. God has commanded that no one engage in intimate sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9) Be it further
RESOLVED that we, affirm that declaring God’s Word and warning people of the consequences of their sins, including sexual sins, is an act of loving concern (James 5:19-20). God’s Word remains true and His prohibitions – including those on sexual sins – cannot be changed by any human government. (Acts 5:29) Be it finally
RESOLVED that we affirm God’s offer of redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9-13) We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Ephesians 4:29-32; 1 John 4:20-21) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual, including those involved in sexual sin, are not in accord with scripture nor the doctrines of the church and are to be repudiated. (Colossians 3:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-12)
OF APPRECIATION FOR CONGRESSMAN J. RANDY FORBES
WHEREAS, Congressman J. Randy Forbes, since elected to Congress in 2001, has set his key priorities to protect and defend our nation; and
WHEREAS, Congressman J. Randy Forbes “founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus and has led this group of bipartisan Members in national efforts to protect prayer and our nation’s spiritual history”; and
WHEREAS Congressman J. Randy Forbes has expressed public appreciation and recognition for the SBC of Virginia’s disaster relief volunteers and response efforts, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that we the SBC of Virginia express our love and gratitude to God for the life and work efforts of Congressman J. Randy Forbes; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the SBC of Virginia would pray the Lord’s blessing on Congressman J. Randy Forbes’ continued service in our nation’s Congress.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Pickett is director of communications & mobilization for the SBC of Virginia.)