The Baptist General Association of Virginia made history Nov. 16 when it elected Wayne Faison executive director.
Faison, who is Black, is the first executive director in the BGAV’s 200-year history who is not a white male. He was elected on a show-of-hands vote during the BGAV annual meeting in Hampton, Va., and then received a standing ovation from the crowd.
He was nominated for the post by a search committee, then affirmed by vote of the BGAV Executive Board Aug. 30.
In a livestreamed interview immediately after his election, Faison acknowledged he begins his work at a time many churches and pastors are still trying to transition out of the pandemic.
“A lot of churches are still hurting, trying to figure out where they need to go,” he said. “But I see a sense of encouragement. I see a sense of perseverance. I see a sense of want to, and so I’m so happy to see that. Virginia Baptist always withstand the test of time. … I see a sense of tenacity. I see a sense of really trying to follow God and see what God wants and keeping the main thing the main thing, and that is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Faison previously served as national coordinating officer for BGAV’s Ascent Team, which includes three generative movements: Fresh Expressions, Missio Alliance, and V3. He has served on the BGAV staff 21 years. He also serves as senior pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va.
Prior to entering vocational ministry, Faison spent 15 years in the banking industry. He earned a doctor of ministry degree in Black church leadership from the School of Theology, a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a mini-MBA from the University of Richmond, and a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Florida.
Not only did his election make history in Virginia, but it is a first in any of the predominantly white state Baptist conventions across the Old South.
The BGAV, however, has been a leader in diversity among state conventions historically connected to the Southern Baptist Convention. Past BGAV leaders, including John Upton, who just retired, have worked to create a big tent mentality among the state body’s 1,300 churches, which also includes member congregations outside the state of Virginia.
Editor’s note: BGAV is a funding partner of Baptist News Global.