WHEELING, W.Va.— The results of the 32nd annual session of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists showed a strong emphasis on the focus on Empowering Kingdom Growth. The 204 messengers and 113 visitors who participated enjoyed inspirational music, preaching, ministry reports and missions updates.
The theme of the convention, "Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG)" was faithfully portrayed throughout the gathering. This theme, originally developed in South Carolina under the leadership of Executive Director Carlisle Driggers, was adopted as the organizing theme for Baptist work in West Virginia in the future. Driggers lead the EKG-related Bible study at each session.
The messengers unanimously adopted six resolutions presented by the committee chairman Dean Brdlik, pastor of Emmanuel Community Baptist Church in Lewisburg.
The resolutions focused on gambling, pornography, the covenant marriage movement, political involvement, recognition of domestic and international mission needs, appreciation for the host association, and appreciation for the state staff. A resolution to boost Southern Baptist communal identity was submitted by a participating member. He suggested using the SBC logo in all public relations efforts such as signs and letterheads. Though the committee commended the idea, it was not declared a resolution.
The resolution addressing political involvement noted support "of local candidates who uphold biblical, family values, who take positions that will protect our churches from governmental intrusion, whose lives are marked by integrity and biblical morality, and candidates who demonstrate unswerving loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, the intent of America's founding Fathers, and America's godly heritage."
The resolution urged Baptists "to wisely avail themselves of the electoral process, to interact with and voice their convictions to elected legislators, and to run for and hold political office as they are so led by the Spirit of God" as they seek "to be 'salt' and 'light' for the glory of God in our great state of West Virginia."
The resolution on gambling and pornography noted, "We are convinced that such vices as gambling and erotic sexual entertainment are detrimental to the family, contribute to the moral decay of communities, are an impediment to productive economic growth of West Virginia, and will result in damaging the emotional and spiritual character of West Virginia children."
The marriage resolution noted in part, "It is the local congregation's responsibility to provide marriage preparation ... that is, to help the couple examine their hearts to confirm and affirm that which God desires for them in this union."
Along with these resolutions, a 7 percent increase of the Southern Baptist causes was approved. Members accepted a $2,629,600 budget including $504,364, which would be forwarded to ongoing causes including the anticipated Cooperative Program from the West Virginia churches.
The convention's current office staff was re-elected without opposition for an additional year of service. President, Richard Carbaugh, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grandview; first vice president, Johnny Kelly, pastor of Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg; second vice president, David Sommerville, pastor of First Baptist Church in Craigsville and recording secretary, Fred E. Morgan Sr., a layman from Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg.
The WVCSB is composed of 152 churches and 28 chapels. Messengers seated one new church this year, Ryerson Baptist Church in South Wheeling where Ron McCoy is the pastor. Although the exact membership figures are unavailable, total membership is near 34, 000.
In addition to Driggers, other featured speakers during the convention included John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention and a West Virginia native, and Charles Fuller, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Roanoke.
In his sermon, Sullivan noted five focus areas that must be included if Christians are to claim to preach the gospel:
1) Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
2) Jesus came according to prophecy.
3) Jesus died on the cross and he was raised from the dead.
4) Each person is personally involved in his death because all are sinners.
5) Jesus Christ is coming again!
Carbaugh, in his presidential address, described the armor of God as the best protection for the family. Speaking from Ephesians 6:10-17, Carbaugh concluded that it is not appropriate for parents to say, "Don't do what I do. Do what I say."
"Children watch their parents," Carbaugh said. "More parents need to take up God's armor daily to show their children how to live."
Ken Owens, pastor of Edgemont Baptist Church in Bluefield, also preached the convention sermon. Speaking from the story in Luke 2 recounting the time when Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus in Jerusalem, Owens suggested that sometimes Christians leave Jesus behind as well. It is easy to get distracted in the midst of our business, Owens said, while pointing out that Christians can always find Jesus doing what his Father wants him to do.
Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 7-8 at Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley.
By Pauline J.