FBC Alexandria ‘grieved,’ but sees ‘God’s grace with full season of ministry’
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FBC Alexandria ‘grieved,’ but sees ‘God’s grace with full season of ministry’

Pastor Robert Stephens responds to SBC vote to disaffiliate with FBCA

June 12, 2024
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When Robert Stephens, pastor of First Baptist Church Alexandria, Virginia, woke up this morning, he discovered the sun shining — which reminded him “of the faithfulness of God no matter what revolves around us.”

Despite the more than 90% approval by messengers voting at the SBC Annual Meeting yesterday (June 11) to disaffiliate with FBCA, those who made the trip to Indianapolis are still on site in the convention hall.

“We’ll still be able to participate in the life as guests and will continue to be present,” Stephens shared with The Baptist Paper. “We are grieved the partnership (with the SBC) is coming to a close after 179 years, but we have had a year of prayer, study, and preparation.

“In some ways, we are in a good and healthy place for this moment,” said Stephens, who has been pastor of FBCA since January 2023.

While FBCA has never had a woman serve in the senior pastor role, the church does support the option for women to serve as pastors.

FBC Alexandria members attending the SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis remain on site as guests at the meeting despite being unseated as messengers June 11. (Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash/The Baptist Paper)

‘Exciting things’

The church ordained a woman to the ministry the first time in 1980 and has ordained three women to ministry overall, Stephens explained. Current staff member Kim Eskridge has served with the church for 25 years and as pastor for children and women for 20 years.

Stephens added, “Our congregation has had time to discuss our relationship with the SBC since last July. We’ve been able to think about it together, and in no way is First Baptist Church concerned or fearful about its future.

“God is doing some exciting things at the church,” he said, noting the variety of summer camps taking place as well as a team headed out soon to Nicaragua for missions.

“We have ample ministry opportunity and are praying for the energy to keep up with the opportunity,” he said. “God’s grace is apparent in this full season of ministry. It will help our congregation process this and move forward in great confidence in what the Lord doing.

“We get to be the same First Baptist Church Alexandria that everybody has known and loved,” he began, “and we get to continue to do the mission we’ve been called to do in northern Virginia and around the world.”

Partnership adjustments

As FBCA prepares to remove the language in its constitution related to cooperating with the SBC, the church finance committee also will recommend amending the church budget.

Through the years, FBCA has consistently given 4% through the Cooperative Program and 8% to the work of BGAV. It also provides financial gifts to its local association, NorthStar Church Network, and its global ministry partner, Baptist World Alliance.

FBCA members have also traditionally supported the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, giving $179,000 to the LMCO last year, Stephens noted.

“That’s over and above our budgeted giving,” he said. “We are generous and actively involved in giving.

“In fact, we have so many church members that love the CP and the work of the CP (and the missions emphases),” Stephens added. “I expect to see continued gifts directed to Annie and Lottie. We are in no way washing our hands of our efforts. We can facilitate those gifts through BGAV.”

To read the full statement of BGAV’s response, click here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was written by Jennifer Davis Rash and originally published by The Baptist Paper.

Last Updated:    
June 17, 2024