The Baptist General Association of Virginia has announced that it will no longer directly provide funds to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship after the 1,800-church network changed its policy to allow the hiring of practicing homosexuals for staff positions.
The BGAV, which consists of over 1,400 autonomous churches throughout the commonwealth and worldwide, will stop facilitating cooperative giving to the CBF. The association will now require its affiliated churches with a giving relationship to CBF to provide contributions directly to the CBF national office.
Previously, churches could contribute to CBF through giving to the BGAV Cooperative Program.
"The Executive Board believes this action serves the BGAV, while respecting CBF," a BGAV statement reads.
The decision was finalized during a BGAV executive board meeting on Monday in Henrico.
"The Virginia Baptist Executive Board regrets it has had to address the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's approval of the Illumination Project Committee's report permitting the hiring of LGBT personnel for certain staff positions in the organization," a BGAV statement released on Monday explains. "Though the BGAV respects CBF's right to change its hiring policy, such a decision has had a direct impact on the BGAV. The Executive Board has sought to respond in the most prayerful and prudent way to the effects of this impact."
The CBF changed its policy on Feb. 9 as a result of an extensive report produced by what CBF calls the "Illumination Project." The move effectively lifts an 18-year hiring ban on practicing homosexuals.
As previously reported, the move only applies to some staff positions and practicing homosexuals will not be considered for leadership roles.
The BGAV statement states that the association has "affirmed and acted on its commitment to its orthodox and traditional view of biblical marriage and sexuality" at numerous annual meetings.
"The BGAV remains committed to respecting, welcoming, and loving all persons in the name of Christ while affirming an orthodox view of marriage between a man and a woman," the statement reads.
There are approximately 200 churches affiliated with BGAV that have a giving relationship with the CBF.
The BGAV announcement explains that in the coming weeks, the BGAV will work with those churches to help them send their contributions directly to CBF.
"More and more, churches have been giving directly to CBF rather than giving through Baptist state conventions like Texas and Virginia," CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said in a statement. "We are grateful for our partner congregations in Virginia that support CBF missionaries bearing witness to Jesus Christ in 30 countries and our ministries that form healthy churches and nurture young Baptists. We now encourage all churches to give to CBF directly."
The BGAV decision comes after the executive board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas voted last week to remove CBF from its Cooperative Program budget. The BGCT has over 5,300 affiliated churches.
CBF will now be removed as an option for giving from BGCT giving forms. In an announcement, the BGCT cited CBF's Feb. 9 decision as the reason for the change. BGCT churches looking to still provide funds to CBF will have to do so directly.
"I am very grateful for the consistent, steady way in which the BGCT has held to God's Word. We lovingly say to all people the truth that marriage is to be between one man and one woman," BGCT President Danny Reeves said in a statement.
Baptist News Global reports that the BGAV's decision this week comes after it ended its association with a Richmond congregation in 2012 for the ordination of an openly gay man.