RICHMOND — Ann Brown, a Gretna, Va., laywoman widely involved in Virginia Baptist life, will be nominated for first vice president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia — a position whose incumbent for almost a decade and a half has been elected BGAV president the following year.
Brown, a former president of Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia, will be nominated at the BGAV’s annual meeting Nov. 12-13 in Fredericksburg, Va., announced Pat Bloxom, herself a former BGAV officer.
“Ann will be an excellent candidate to lead us at this time,” said Bloxom, a member of Mappsville (Va.) Baptist Church. “The BGAV is in a new phase as we’re studying its governance, and Ann has had a great deal of experience in Virginia Baptist life. She was an excellent WMU leader.”
Bloxom, a retired public health nurse, is a former BGAV second vice president and former president of Virginia WMU.
Last fall, Brown completed five years as WMUV president and brings wide personal and family involvement in Baptist life. She and her husband, Kent — members of First Baptist Church in Gretna — were officers in a family-owned telephone company in Southside Virginia. Since selling the company the family has engaged in philanthropy and mission activities around the world.
She has been a trustee of the Virginia Baptist Foundation and also is a former member of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. Kent is on the boards of both Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. The couple has participated in dozens of mission trips in the United States and overseas, and actively supports a children’s home and seminary in Kerala, India, which partners with the BGAV.
In 2011 the Browns received the Religious Herald’s Jeremiah Bell Jeter Award, given to those who “exemplify those Baptist principles, freedoms and mission commitments historically associated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia.”
The Browns are part of an extended family with a long record of service in Virginia Baptist life. Ann’s grandmother helped organize local WMU chapters in Virginia’s Staunton River Baptist Association. Her father and mother, Ed and Emily Fitzgerald of Gretna, and her grandfather all once served on the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. Her father also was a trustee of Virginia Baptist Homes, her mother served on WMUV's governing board and her aunt, Sue Fitzgerald, was a founding trustee of BTSR.
Kent’s father, Allen Brown, was head of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s church music department for more than 30 years, until his retirement in 1994.
The Browns’ sons have continued the tradition — Robert is pastor of Blackstone (Va.) Baptist Church and William, who served a stint as a Virginia Baptist Venturer in Israel, is in a chaplain residency program at the University of Virginia.
For 13 years BGAV first vice presidents have been nominated — and invariably elected — to serve as the state association’s president, though the practice is not mandated by BGAV bylaws. The bylaws do restrict both offices to one-year terms and incumbents cannot immediately succeed themselves.
If Brown is nominated and elected as president in 2014, that action would be consistent with a more than 50-year-old practice of rotating the BGAV presidency between ministers and laypersons — another well-established tradition that isn’t required by bylaws.
No other candidates have been announced for the office. The new first vice president will succeed Tommy McDearis, pastor of Blacksburg (Va.) Baptist Church, who, if the pattern prevails, could be expected to be nominated for BGAV president. If elected, McDearis would succeed Richmond layman Carl Johnson, whose term ends in November.
Robert Dilday ([email protected]) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.