BGAV Celebrates 200th Anniversary at 2023 Annual Meeting in Richmond
BGAV's 200th annual meeting took place November 13-15, 2023
BGAV commemorated its 200th anniversary with a three-day celebration of history, thankfulness, and diversity at its 2023 Annual Meeting, which took place November 13-15 at Bon Air Baptist Church in Richmond. Highlights of this year’s business proceedings included passing a motion to support and advocate for women in ministry and utilizing for the first time an electronic voting method, which enabled all messengers to vote—whether they attended the event in person or via livestream.
More than 1,000 people attended this year’s event, including 578 registered messengers, 286 guests, and 153 exhibitors and staff members.
This year’s annual meeting was the second year in a truly hybrid format, in which messengers and guests could participate in person or online. In 2022 messengers voted to pass an amendment to the constitution and bylaws that allowed for remote voting in subsequent years, so electronic voting took place starting with this year’s business sessions. Messengers in all locations participated in voting using their smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers; those in person who needed or preferred paper ballots were issued those on site. To represent online messengers who had questions or comments during discussion, a designated proxy was present to bring those statements to the floor verbatim in person.
BGAV Treasurer David Washburn presented the 2024 budget during the Tuesday morning business session. Next year’s budget total is $7,061,860, and messengers approved it with no opposition on Wednesday. Before his initial presentation, Washburn explained that BGAV has a surplus of $235,566 for the current year.
Washburn also introduced four revised giving plans for BGAV-participating churches. The first plan is BGAV only, where all money given will support BGAV and its ministries.The other three options split churches’ gifts between BGAV and other ministry partners, allocating 72% for BGAV ministries and 28% for the other groups as specified in each plan.
Tuesday morning’s business session also included a motion from the floor regarding women in ministry. Kristin Adkins Whitesides, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Winchester, presented the motion, which read, “I move that the Executive Board of the Baptist General Association of Virginia appoint a seven-member task force to explore programs, resources, policies, initiatives and relationships which further support and advocate for women in pastoral, ministerial, and leadership roles among Virginia Baptists.” Dozens of supporters approached the microphone, prepared to speak in favor of the motion, but when no messengers spoke in opposition, President Herbert Ponder closed the motion for discussion and called for a vote. The motion passed with 84% voting in favor of it.
Themed “Called to Be,” the meeting highlighted the rich history of Virginia Baptists and demonstrated the wide scope of its reach throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.
During the Monday night worship service, before the meeting was officially called to order by 2023 BGAV President Herbert Ponder on Tuesday morning, the featured group of musicians was the Virginia Agape International Church Choir from Springfield.The talented group sang in Latin, Korean, and English.
On Tuesday morning, the worship band from Primera Iglesia Bautista Maranatha from Culpeper opened the worship service, leading most of the music in Spanish while the congregation followed English translations on screens. The second musical group featured was the Anniversary Festival Choir, a multi-church, intergenerational group of musicians from Richmond-area BGAV churches.
In Tuesday’s executive director’s report, Wayne Faison introduced Renew Virginia, a new initiative that will launch in January 2024. For 40 days, Virginia Baptists will pray together for the future of the BGAV and its churches—focusing in 10-day increments on renewal, revitalization, progress, and fulfillment.
Tuesday evening’s music leadership was the Virginia Baptist Women’s and Male Chorales plus the handbell choirs from Richmond’s First Baptist Church, Grandin Court BaptistChurch from Roanoke, and the handbell group from Bon Air Baptist, the host church. Among other selections, the group led in the first public performance of “The Same Christ Calls,” a commissioned anthem composed by David Schwoebel and Terry York in recognition of BGAV’s 200th anniversary.
Wednesday morning worship featured the Community Voices Choir, the Miller Family, and Phillip Brown, associate pastor at Richmond’s Huguenot Road Baptist Church. During Wednesday’s business session, messengers elected BGAV’s officers for 2024:Becky McKinney of Chatham Heights Baptist Church, President; Shelton Miles of Kedron Baptist Church, 1st Vice President; Alan Miller of Orange BaptistChurch, 2nd Vice President; and Nathan Taylor of River Road Church, Baptist, Clerk. Brooke Holloway Blake of Memorial Baptist Church was elected to serve a second year as chair of the executive board.
On Wednesday evening, a special worship service was held to conclude the 200th anniversary celebration and kick off BGAV’s 201st year as a network of churches for missions and ministry, a place where like-hearted Baptists can come together to do Kingdom work.
BGAV’s 201st Annual Meeting is scheduled for November 11-13, 2024, at First Baptist Church of Alexandria, VA.