By Robert Dilday
A far-reaching shift in governance of the 191-year-old Baptist General Association of Virginia went into effect Nov. 12 when messengers at the group’s annual meeting adopted a set of constitutional and bylaw changes implementing a proposal adopted last year.
That action was quickly followed by the election of a new Executive Board and Missions Council — key components in the governing plan which came out of a two-year study.
The BGAV also adopted a reduced budget for 2015 and elected new officers.
The 21-member Executive Board replaces the former 97-member Virginia Baptist Mission Board as the policy-making authority, though most actions will still require approval by the BGAV in annual meetings. The Executive Board also will oversee a staff of 54 full-time and 23 part-time employees.
In addition, the Executive Board will develop annual budgets to be recommended to the BGAV, replacing a budget committee which had operated separately from the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.
Unlike the former Mission Board, 75 percent of whose members were recommended by district associations, Executive Board members will be elected on an at-large basis, with the exception of six who will serve by virtue of office.
The 100-member Missions Council will function in a consultative role, meeting once a year as a “sounding board for the Virginia Baptist family.” In the future, the council also will nominate members of the Executive Board, who will be elected by the BGAV. To populate the initial membership of the two entities, the BGAV voted to make former members of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board current members of the Missions Council. Executive Board members were nominated by the Mission Board as one of its last actions, and in part by a committee of all living former BGAV presidents.
In other action, the BGAV adopted a 2015 budget significantly lower than current funding allocations. The $11.5 million budget is a little more than $700,000 less than the 2014 budget of $12,214,000.
The reduction for 2015 reflects anticipated receipts for the current year, which treasurer David Washburn said are expected to be between $11.3 million and $11.5 million, about 95 percent or less of the 2014 budget goal.
The 2015 budget continues to offer churches three pre-set giving tracks and a fourth customized option, all of which divide funds between BGAV ministries and national and international causes. The percentage divisions are unchanged from previous years:
• The World Missions 1 track provides 66 percent for Virginia ministries and 34 percent for Southern Baptist Convention ministries.
• The World Missions 2 track provides 72 percent for BGAV ministries and 28 percent for a combination of Virginia, SBC, CBF and other ministries.
• The World Missions 3 track provides 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ministries.
The overall budget reduction is about 5.8 percent and cuts to most of the ministry organizations were consistent with that percentage. One exception was an allocation to Virginia Intermont College, an affiliated school which closed its doors this year. The $1,000 allocation was removed from the 2015 budget.
A second exception was an allocation to Baptist News Global, the result of a merger last year between the Religious Herald and Associated Baptist Press. In 2014 the entity was funded in two locations, one for Religious Herald at $108,000 and one for ABP at 2 percent of the World Mission 2 track. The 2015 budget eliminates the $108,000 allocation and retains the 2 percent allocation for BNG. If the budget is fully funded, that amount will be about $20,000.
Ann Brown, a Gretna, Va., laywoman widely involved in Virginia Baptist life, was elected president in an uncontested election. Brown, a member of First Baptist Church in Gretna who had been serving as the BGAV’s first vice president, succeeded Blacksburg, Va., pastor Tommy McDearis.
Also elected were Nancy Stanton McDaniel, pastor of Rhoadesville (Va.) Baptist Church, as first vice president; Bill Neiporte, pastor of Patterson Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., as second vice president; and Fred Anderson, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, as clerk.