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Responding to God’s Call

Toward Racial Reconciliation

Meet Dr. Andrea Klimt

BGAV annual meeting focuses on our future

Where is the church in this?



Honoring a 17-year-long friendship with Austrian Baptists 20


The Gospel plot could hardly be simpler. A man walks up to two fishermen saying, “Come with me,” and they get up and do it. Jesus sees two more fishermen, says the same thing, and they, too, get up and follow.

JOHN UPTON is the Executive Director of the BGAV.

Andrew and his brother were knee-deep in water casting out their nets. They weren’t fishing for fun. This was their work. What they caught was their income. Up walked this stranger who said, “Follow me,” and then said, “Guys, want to do some real fishing? Come with me.” They must have looked at each other and saw confirmation of what each one was feeling. They nodded to each other, headed for the shore, dropped their nets onto the sand, and walked behind Jesus. Is following really that automatic? What’s that all about? What I like about this story of Andrew, Simon, James, and John is that their story is also our story. The ones being interrupted now by the call of Christ are very likely you and me. The historical setting is right now! There he is standing right in front of us—like he did with Andrew and the others—looking into our eyes and inviting us, saying, “Follow me.” Like them, we must decide. Are you in, or are you out? Do I leave things as I’ve known them, or do I take a risk? Andrew and Simon dropped their nets onto the sand. Just up the beach, it happened a second time. Two more brothers were fishing: John and James. These brothers were sitting in a boat, mending nets with their father. Jesus called, and like Andrew and Simon, without a word, they got out of the boat— leaving their father bewildered. I would like to have heard how the dad explained that one to their mother. Off they went, four following Jesus. Do you recall a moment in your life that bears a little resemblance to the emotional response of the first four disciples? A moment arrives, presents an invitation, and at the core of your soul you suspect it is the right thing to do. It will cost you something. Things will have to change. It will be inconvenient and challenging. Yet it could also be thrilling. It could offer a new way of being. I wonder if a great many of our days whisper that kind of invitation, if only we would hear it. “Follow me,” it whispers. Here is the scariest thing I know: Following requires a “yes.” What is scary is that “not following” doesn’t even require a “no.”

You can just put off a decision. Not deciding is deciding. There were others fishing on the lake that day. I imagine many of them got the same invitation. In another boat perhaps were Dick, Jane, Bert, and Ethel. Jesus said, “Follow me.” Dick responded, “Hey, that is risky.” Jane said, “I find this theologically problematic.” Bert answered, “I already have too much stress in my life.” And Ethel declared, “It’s too hot for a walk today.” In the most critical matters, it is easy to miss our chance. How many times have we felt the stirring in ourselves? If you do not act on the stirring, it won’t be long before the stirring ceases. If we continually don’t listen, the day will come when we cannot even hear. Put off acting on what you know, and in time, you will lose even the knowing of it. The BGAV, you, your church—we are all on the lakeshore. Before us stands Jesus speaking to us, inviting us, saying, “Follow me.” It is time for a decision. Why is the BGAV important? There were two sets of brothers on the beach that day. The second pair heard the call and looked up. When they looked up they saw Peter and Andrew. They knew Peter and Andrew had made their choice to go. They saw gladness and freedom in their faces. This is why we need each other. When any of us decide for Christ’s way and take our stand for his way in the world, it helps the rest of us to choose. It helps all of us to keep choosing what is right. The courage of your faith can kindle the courage in mine. And so it grows. This is our moment of decision.

18 // Virginia Baptist Disaster Response: Ongoing and Life-changing

4 // BGAV News & Notes 6 // Because of You 8 // BGAV Focuses on Responding to God’s Call at 194th Annual Meeting 10 // John Upton Challenges Virginia Baptists to Continue Responding to God’s Call

20 // Dr. Andrea Klimt, Longtime Friend of Virginia Baptists 22 // Not Lost in Translation 24 // More Than Nets Hits 81,400 Nets

12 // BGAV’s 2018 Budget: An Overview and Encouraging Picture for the Future

25 // 4 Ways to Share God’s Word with the Homebound

16 // Toward Racial Reconciliation: Where is the Church in This?

26 // Making Lasting Change 27 // Latest Ministry Jobs

BGAV Advancing the Kingdom Together

ISSN 2573-5101 (print) ISSN 2573-511X (online)

A publication of the Baptist General Association of Virginia Volume 3, Issue 1 Winter 2018 BGAV Express is published quarterly by the Baptist General Association of Virginia, 2828 Emerywood Parkway, Henrico, VA 23294.

Send subscription requests and address changes to: Linda Peay 800.255.2428, ext. 1204 BGAV Express Baptist General Association of Virginia 2828 Emerywood Parkway Henrico, VA 23294 toll-free 800.255.2428 Or visit


BGAV Passes 2018 Budget

During the 194th Annual Meeting of the BGAV in Hampton, VA, messengers unanimously approved the 2018 Cooperative Missions Budget of $10,000,000. Treasurer David Washburn introduced a new way to explain the budget in such a way to “tell the whole story” of what Virginia Baptists are doing. For more information, please read the article on page 12.

Apply to Be a 2018 BJC Fellow

The Baptist Joint Committee is now accepting applications for their 2018 BJC Fellows program, offering young professionals the chance to deepen their legal, historical, and theological understanding of religious liberty. It includes a seminar in Colonial Williamsburg, and most costs are covered. The deadline for applications is February 16, 2018. For more information, visit

R. Mitch Randall Named Baptist Center for Ethics Executive Director

The Baptist Center for Ethics’ board of directors is pleased to announce R. Mitch Randall as its new executive director. Randall began his tenure Jan. 1, 2018, becoming only the second executive director in the organization’s 26-year history. He follows the tenure of the center’s founder, Robert Parham, who died in March 2017.

BTSR Offers New Religious Liberty Course Taught by Bill Leonard

BTSR visiting scholar, Dr. Bill J. Leonard, will be joined by Fred Anderson and Nathan Taylor of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, and J. Brent Walker, former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, now

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NEWS + NOTES continuing care retirement communities through leadership, management, and vision. He began his work in the position on November 27, 2017.

interim president of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, to offer “A Shelter for Conscience: America’s Religious Liberty for Baptists and Other Dissenters”. This class will feature both classroom and online instruction along with field trips. The class begins at the end of May and is open to all. More details can be found at

“We are excited to welcome Ray to the LifeSpire team,” said Jonathan Cook, president and CEO. “We are building a great culture and a great team at LifeSpire, and one thing that excites us most about Ray is the depth of his background and experience.”

LifeSpire of Virginia Welcomes New Chief Operating Officer

LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to welcome Ray Fisher as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Fisher will be responsible for directing overall operations in LifeSpire’s four

For more BGAV news, visit

Event Calendar February 2-3 9-10 12 15 20 22


Virginia Baptist Handbell Festival, Lynchburg, VA Virginia Baptist Handbell Festival, Glen Allen, VA Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Dillwyn, VA Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Halifax, VA Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Newport News, VA Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Annandale, VA

14 15 22 22 24

March 1 3 6 6 8 8 9 10

Ministry Equipping Network: Best Practices of Teaching Youth (webinar) Ministry Equipping Network: Youth Trips – Mission/Retreats/Fellowship (webinar) Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Waynesboro, VA Ministry Equipping Network: Children and Worship (webinar) Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Richmond, VA Ministry Equipping Network: Family Ministry 101 (webinar) Ministry Equipping Network: Developmental Ages & Stages (webinar) Ministry Equipping Network: Children’s Ministry 101 (webinar)

27 29

Ministry Equipping Network: Bible Study Basics (webinar) Church and Clergy Tax Seminar, Roanoke, VA Ministry Equipping Network: Teaching Techniques/Approach (webinar) Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Charlottesville, VA Ministry Equipping Network: Integrating Children into the Life of the Congregation (webinar) Ministry Equipping Network: Choosing/ Evaluating Youth Curriculum (webinar) Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Lynchburg, VA Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Richmond, VA

April 10 Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Chesapeake, VA 12 Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Annandale, VA 13-14 Virginia Church Library Association – Spring Conference, Lynchburg, VA 17 Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Staunton, VA 24 Preparing for Retirement Seminar, Wytheville, VA 24-27 Texas Baptist/Chaplaincy Relations Pastoral Care Training Event, Williamsburg, VA Complete list of events at


Because of


… hundreds attended the “Better Than Ever” Retreat at Eagle Eyrie. Adults—age 50 and up—enjoyed a delicious banquet, laughed with and learned from Tom Stocks, guest speaker, and participated in breakout sessions such as Bible study, exercise, and crafts. Learn more at

… dozens of African American church leaders gather several times a year for Preaching Camp, an opportunity for church planters, ministers, and pastors to increase their skill level in sermon preparation and delivery. Learn more at


‌ numerous Virginia Baptists in the Southwest region traveled to First Baptist Church, Galax, for the first-ever Southwest Virginia Evangelism Conference. Participants heard from Dr. Ken Weathersby, Vice President of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, and Gordon Mote, an accomplished recording artist. Breakout sessions also covered evangelism as it relates to Sunday school, youth, college students, deacons, pastors, revivals, women, serving, hospitality, starting spiritual conversations, etc.

‌ Virginia Baptists in the western part of the Commonwealth traveled to First Baptist Church, Waynesboro, for Mission Matters in the Valley. Approximately 125 attendees were certified in Disaster Response in the one-day training event, while more than 50 other attendees attended breakout sessions on school partnerships, construction outreach, community transformation, prison ministry, and partnership mission opportunities in Haiti and Standing Rock. Learn more at


BGAV Focuses on Responding to God’s Call at 194th Annual Meeting The 194th Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) Annual Meeting took place November 13-15, 2017, in Hampton, Virginia. Ministers and lay leaders from many BGAV churches gathered for fellowship, worship, training, and business.

Tuesday began with a business session, during which the BGAV welcomed the McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University as a new partner, and also renewed a longstanding partnership between the BGAV and Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia—a relationship that began in the late 1880s.

Forty-three exhibitors participated in the ministry fair, offering resources to attendees. On Monday afternoon, several breakout sessions were offered, covering topics including the church’s response to disaster, the power of story in preaching, women in ministry, discipling digital teens, small church ministry, and being church in a digital/physical culture.

Resolutions of appreciation were presented for Fred Anderson, who retired as executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society after 38 years of service, and for Ron Crawford, who retired as president of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. John Upton and David Washburn gave the Executive Director’s and Treasurer’s reports, respectively.

Monday evening, a Spirit-filled worship service at Ivy Memorial Baptist Church featured praise and worship bands from the church and Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple. Messengers and guests watched videos and heard personal testimonies of the BGAV’s recent ministries in disaster relief and racial reconciliation. BGAV Executive Director John Upton offered an interpretation of the meeting’s theme, “Answering God’s Call…Now What?” He likened the BGAV’s calling to that of the first disciples in Matthew 4:18-22, commenting that Jesus is calling and awaiting our response, and we have to decide, “Are we in, or are we out? Are we going to take the risk or just stay where we are?” In each day’s meetings, speakers and worship leaders focused on how individuals and churches can respond to God’s call during the literal and figurative storms of life.

The Coastal Community Church praise and worship band led in a time of worship following an intermission, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, gave an inspiring and informative keynote address centered on how God calls Christians to exhibit mercy—offering help and hope to all others regardless of who they are or where they are from—like Jesus did. He revealed that worldwide, the number of Christians is increasing at a rate of 10,000 per hour. “It’s like we have a Pentecost every 60 minutes,” he commented. Tuesday afternoon, attendees went to regional meetings and then chose from 11 breakout sessions. Evening worship on Tuesday was led by The Millers. Nathan Taylor and Fred Anderson offered historical reflections of notable Baptists who 8

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In additional business, members voted to approve a resolution from the Religious Liberty Committee on their determination that churches need to increase their efforts to educate Virginia Baptists about religious freedom, not to take religious freedom for granted, and to nourish and cultivate religious freedom.

responded to God’s call during difficult times—paving the way for generations of Christians ahead of them to boldly answer God’s call. In his evening message, Leith Anderson addressed six ways to become the kind of leaders God wants his people to be. He concluded with the challenge: “You are the church of Jesus Christ, and Jesus has sent you to start the race, but he has also sent you to finish the race.”

After an intermission, the meeting continued with a worship time with music led by BGAV’s Uptick Artists. Leith Anderson brought the closing message, exploring what it means to be set apart as people of God—to live like Christians who glorify God—aligning God’s reputation in the world with the way God really is. “We must be the people whom God has brought out of the darkness and into his wonderful light,” he encouraged.

The annual meeting concluded Wednesday with a business session and closing worship. During the morning business session, members voted to approve the 2018 budget of $10 million with a unanimous affirmative vote. Rev. George Fletcher, retired pastor of several BGAV churches and current BGAV 1st vice president, was nominated and elected to serve as president in 2018. Richard Martin was elected as 1st vice president. Additionally, messengers elected Brooke Holloway as 2nd vice president, and Fred Anderson will serve as clerk for a 36th year. The body also approved new Mission Council members. 

Following Anderson, messengers and guests worshipped together as they shared in a time of communion. George Fletcher, in his first act as the new BGAV president, offered a benediction and adjourned the meeting. He prayed, “Lord, we know what you’ve called us to do, now give us courage to go and do it.”

Kevin Meadows was approved as chair of the Executive Board. Shirley Cobb, Lora Gravatt, Tamara McBride, Bryan Taliaferro, and Kevin James were all nominated to serve on the Executive Board. 

The 195th Annual Meeting of the BGAV will be held November 12-14, 2018 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen (Richmond area). For more information, visit 9

John Upton Challenges Virginia Baptists to Continue Responding to God’s Call At the 194th BGAV Annual Meeting in Hampton, John Upton presented an encouraging Executive Director’s report that highlighted the many ways in which Virginia Baptists are unified in responding to God’s call across the Commonwealth and around the world. In a written preface distributed to attendees, he reflected upon the similarities between Jesus’ calling of the first disciples and the calling today on Virginia Baptists. In his oral presentation, Upton focused on how the BGAV is indeed responding to God’s call through the challenges and storms life brings. “Churches have always had challenges,” he explained. “It only took six chapters of Acts for the first church to have crises.” He observed further that “I’m watching a family grow, and we like the way this family does its mission; it’s the old and the new coming together . . . . The church is going to be just fine,” he stated. Citing specific examples from the past year, Upton recalled major ways in which BGAV churches and individuals are working together to advance God’s Kingdom in tangible, relatable ways: planting, sending, developing, and resourcing. He spoke of tremendous growth, for example, in numbers of church planters. “Just last month,” he recalled, “a group of 220 church planters met at Praxis. We could have 40 more church planters if we’d had the funds. Next year, 60 new churches will be started. It’s time that we start owning and championing these leaders who are leaning on us.”

“Some of these things sound too good to be true,” he said. “Isn’t it great that they are true?” He went on and exclaimed that “In all of my years with Virginia Baptists, this year has been my favorite year.”

He noted that in addition to expanding church planting, the BGAV has had an incredible year in sending. Referring to recent efforts in disaster relief, he cited, “We served 46,000 people at a point of crisis, and 377 churches were involved.” Describing ministries in Ghana, he said, “We’ve distributed over 81,000 mosquito nets and started 448 new congregations.”

In all of my years with Virginia Baptists, this year has been my favorite year. In conclusion, Upton emphasized the importance of continued engagement and support by BGAV members as he stated, “It takes a lot of people to make this family function—to make all of this happen.”

Upton was particularly excited about the area of developing, as he recounted the many events related to ministry training across the Commonwealth, in which over 1,000 Virginia Baptists are participating each month. “We need to put more resources into our field strategists,” he said, as he told of specific resourcing events that are engaging many laypersons and ministers from BGAV churches.

To watch John Upton’s report from the annual meeting, visit


300 collegiate leadership students trained 46 students and young adults preparing for church vocation 40 teams comprising 275 BGAV volunteers traveled internationally on mission 235 new congregations planted in Yendi, Ghana as part of More Than Nets 76,000 nets distributed to 265 villages, leading to a decline of 43% in malaria cases

DR volunteers active218 2 times a month) serving 9,195 hours from 77 BGAV churches, offering $230,000 in services n mission ained ing for church vocation


nteers traveled internationally on mission collegiate/young adult ndi, Ghana as part of More Than Nets participants at BCMs s, leading to a decline of 43% in malaria cases


across the state

Virginia Baptist Disaster Response volunteers trained in 2017

rs from 77 BGAV churches, offering $230,000 in services

(2016-17 school year)

over 9% increase in attendance at both Camp Piankatank and Eagle Eyrie events

10,500 hours

served by DR volunteers in responding to 2017 hurricanes nationwide

over 50,000


average hits on the BGAV website each month

new and emerging church plants across the U.S. and Canada through the V3 Church Planting Movement

BGAV’s 2018 Budget: An Overview and Encouraging Picture for the Future “Believe me: you want to be part of this,” concluded David Washburn, in his Treasurer’s report to the 194th BGAV Annual Meeting on November 14.

only concern was that we would not act our size. Finances are only one indicator of an organization’s size, but what we have here is an encouraging picture of our future. Every one of the nearly 1,400 Virginia Baptist churches is vital to our acting our size, and we need your continued support of Cooperative Missions.”

On behalf of the Executive Board, Washburn proposed a $10 million budget for 2018. “This is the same as the 2017 budget,” he explained, “in that Virginia Missions and Ministries, Partners in Virginia, and World Missions Causes remain the same. You will notice some small reallocations within the Virginia Missions and Ministries portion of the budget.”

Annual meeting attendees had the opportunity to attend a breakout session to ask questions and discuss the 2018 budget. At the Wednesday business session, messengers voted unanimously to approve the budget as proposed.

As he presented his report and the related graphic explanations, Washburn reminded BGAV members that “developing” refers to the area of developing congregational leaders, both clergy and laity. “Planting” means new expressions of church, whether a church plant, multi-site, or a fresh expression of church. “Sending” refers to sending people on mission. “Each team or ministry area is part of one of the three functional values, or support ministries, based on their focus,” he explained.

Watch a video of David Washburn’s report at

2018 Proposed Coop Missions Budget Alloc $10,000,000

“For years,” he recalled, “many of you have asked how we continue to do all that Virginia Baptists do—and in many ways, increase and grow what we’re doing—in an environment of overall declining Cooperative Missions giving. The answer has been good fiscal management combined with resources that are generated outside of Cooperative Missions giving. As our internal systems and reporting have been refined and improved over the past two years, we now can share this story with you— and what an incredible story it is!”






He cited examples of those resources generated outside Cooperative Missions giving, such as designated gifts, camp and conference center registration revenue, program revenue, and miscellaneous income (including rent generated through the BGAV’s Richmond facility). He explained the budget in more detail using graphics and charts including those accompanying this article.

BGAV PARTNERS IN VIRGINIA Averett University........................................ $1,000 Baptist Extension Board .................................... $1 Bluefield College ....................................... $62,498 Center for Baptist Heritage and Studies.... $75,000 Fork Union Military Academy ..................... $1,000 GraceInside................................................ $44,515 Hargrave Military Academy.......................... $1,000 HopeTree Family Services......................... $38,715 LifeSpire of Virginia..................................... $1,000 Oak Hill Academy...................................... $34,250 Virginia Baptist Foundation......................... $1,000 Virginia Baptist Historical Society............. $29,022 Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia..... $325,000

“Lyle Schaller met with BGAV leadership several years ago, and he said that of all of the state of regional denominations/ judicatories that he observed and worked with, Virginia Baptists were the one group he believed was positioned to rise above the post-modern, post-Christian era that was emerging to thrive and lead the way into a new day,” Washburn remembered. “His






Cooperative Missions

Designated Gifts



Camp & Conference Center Registration Revenue +


Program Revenue +

Other Income



$191,679 • Kairos/Collegiate Ministry

L = $ 1 2 , 7 4 8, 7 4 3 TOTA

perative cation

• Pastor Networking & Leadership Development

2018 BGAV Ministry Emphasis $12,748,743


• Pastor/Staff Transition and Assistance for Matching Churches & Ministers • Children’s Ministry & Youth Ministry









• Disaster Response

• V3/Church Planting

• Partnership Missions • Impact Mission Camps

• Emergency Assistance for Ministers

• Multisites

• Retiree Benefits

WM1 - Distributed according to the Southern Baptist Convention Budget.

WM3 - Distributed according to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Budget.

• Fresh Expressions/ Innovative Discipleship

• Church Staff Benefit Support


WM2 - Distributed according to BGAV approved items which includes Virginia, national, and international ministries.

• BGAV Annual Meeting

TOTAL ANTICIPATED GIVING Cooperative Missions Budget Allocation


BGAV Ministry Resources

$ 6,162,743

Special Offerings (estimated)

$ 5,125,333



Clockwise from top left: Freddy Villarreal challenged worshippers Monday evening with his message about how Jesus calmed a storm. Representatives from BGAV and the McAfee School of Theology signed a partnership covenant and formalized a new official relationship. The praise band from Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple led a powerful worship service to open the meeting on Monday evening. Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia and BGAV renewed their partnership covenant that began in the late 1880s. Breaking bread together during the final worship time on Wednesday provided moments of clarity and unity for annual meeting attendees. Korean Baptists enjoyed a time of fellowship and pastoral leadership training during their meeting on Monday afternoon. Herbert Ponder led a popular breakout session on the transformational ministry of small churches. Attendees shared in a time of communion to close their time together on Wednesday before departing for home.

Attendees enjoy each other’s company at the ministry fair, where 43 exhibitors offered their resources. Keynote speaker Leith Anderson delivered messages of hope and help, challenging attendees to exhibit mercy and to live like Christians who glorify God.

BGAV’s own Uptick Artists brought intensity and creativity as they led worship on Wednesday.


Where is the Church in This?

RACIAL reconciliation Following the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the violent backlash that occurred afterward, Chuck Harrison was troubled by the thought: How will we respond when something like this happens in our area? Harrison, the director of missions for the Peninsula Baptist Association (PBA), began to challenge himself with other questions, like, Where is the church in this? Do we have a voice? Do we even know each other well enough to have a conversation about it? “I realized a lot of the churches—the pastors and the people—don’t even know each other, and they don’t even speak, particularly across racial lines,” he remembered. Calling upon other ministers in the Newport News/Hampton area, he initiated a dialogue over lunch and invited pastors to get to know each other, to share ministries with each other, and to start to talk about important things like racism, poverty, and crime—things that affected their cities. “One thing led to another, and now we have a group of 50 or more people who gather once a month,” Harrison explained. The group includes pastors, police officers, city officials, and representatives from the Commonwealth Attorney’s office. “They’re people who care about the city the way we care about our city.” “When we started the dialogue, we had a homework assignment the first day: to make a lunch appointment with someone who doesn’t look like you,” Harrison recalled. He said that after they did that two or three times, they started coming back and telling similar stories about how they share similar problems in their different churches. Some pastors who became friends said that their churches were going to do things together—like VBS or some event—because they both are in the same community, and they both care about the same things. For example, an African American church partnered with a white church to host a Halloween-related event, and together they served nearly 400 children at a safe event in their community. A lot of great things have come out of the relationships that have developed from the monthly meetings. Churches have formed partnerships with the city and with the police department. Pastors are getting to know other pastors. While the local response to this initiative has been mostly positive, the efforts have not occurred without cost. “There is always resistance to change,” Harrison commented, “especially in the church world. With our shift of focus to include racial reconciliation as one element in growing God’s Kingdom in our area, some individuals and churches have reacted negatively. This has been a very small percentage of the feedback we’ve received. Unfortunately, in a few cases, this has led churches to withdraw financial support.” He said that some have been forthcoming about their reasons for withholding giving, while others have been more vague. “The financial hit has hurt us for sure,” he stated. 16

Harrison went on to clarify, “Nothing worth doing is without cost. We expected some of this would take place. But the majority of our churches have been very positive about what we are doing, and the reputation of the PBA with local cities, agencies, and communities has grown exponentially through our efforts.” Harrison emphasized that these church leaders who are working together are realistic yet optimistic about the role they play in their region. “We’re about the Kingdom,” he explained. “We’re churches. We can’t fix all the city’s problems, but we really believe that God has put us here to advance his Kingdom in this place. And we can’t do that unless the churches are working together, unless the pastors are in conversation, and unless we see this city as our mission.” As relationships and partnerships grow, community members are learning to celebrate the beauty they are finding in their diversity, and Harrison expressed optimism about their future. “I believe God blesses in a unique way when we come together across barriers.” This story was told at the Monday night gathering at the 2017 BGAV Annual Meeting. Visit to watch a video from that night.






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YOUTH OR CHILDREN’S Ministry Elective YOUTH OR CHILDREN’S Ministry Elective

ONGOING AND LIFE-CHANGING For the past 48 years, Virginia Baptists have responded to disasters across the country. From hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, to the tragedy of 9/11, Virginia Baptists have been there—offering help on the road to healing by sharing the hope of Jesus through words, actions, and relationships.

Just a few weeks before Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, and Virginia Baptists responded to a call from pastor Steve Bean of First Baptist Church of Liberty, Texas—continuing a relationship that started in October 2008 when a BGAV team traveled there to work alongside that church in its disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Ike. Together in 2008, the volunteers made more than 50,000 meals over the course of three weeks.

In 2017 alone, Virginia Baptists have responded to forest fires in Gatlinburg; a tornado in Powhatan County; a search and rescue operation in Chesapeake; the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico; and the ongoing rebuilding efforts following earlier disasters in Appomattox, Essex, Virginia Beach, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

Hurricane Harvey brought 53 inches of rain to the Liberty area in late August. “When the waters started rising, I knew who to pick up the phone and call,” Bean said. “I called Virginia Baptists, and they have come to partner with our church. That’s why we’ve been able to do what we’ve done. It’s been a life-changer, a church-changer, and a community-changer. We thank God for Virginia Baptists.”

In 2017, 309 volunteers served more than 17,419 hours— preparing 44,758 meals and working on more than 191 homes. Virginia Baptist Crisis Care Chaplains have spoken with more than 405 residents who have been affected by the storms, and they have provided a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and the encouragement of prayers.

“Disaster response, like anything we do on mission, isn’t only about where we go—it’s also just as much about who goes,” explained Kristen Curtis, Appomattox rebuild volunteer coordinator. Rosedale Baptist Church, for example, is now engaged in ongoing efforts in disaster relief. Led by Jeff Kinder, pastor, the team went on their first callout for disaster relief to West Virginia in 2016 after the major floods there. “I saw the impact that even that short trip made,” Kinder commented.

But BGAV Disaster Relief has never been about how many meals are distributed or how many homes are cleaned up; it is about people. It is about joining together with the work God is already doing in communities across the country and around the world—partnering with local churches to make an eternal impact in their neighborhoods.

This year the church sent a team to Texas after Hurricane Harvey. They sent carpenters, farmers, even the sheriff of Russell County—a diverse group of people who wanted to go. Kinder recalled, “One of our young men who went had just made a profession of faith about two weeks before going on the trip, and I watched him grow in his new walk, in his new Christian faith because of that experience.”

Each person matters to God. As Virginia Baptists seek to respond together to the storms of life, the priority is the people. After Hurricane Irma, a feeding team left Virginia on September 12 to head south, not knowing where they would go. The next morning, they awoke to an invitation to set up in Palm Coast, Florida. The region had been affected by Hurricane Matthew the previous year, so when Irma swept through, First Baptist Church of Palm Coast knew what to do. When the BGAV team arrived, they weren’t there to take over; they went to join the efforts already begun by that local church. The volunteers worked side by side during every meal, every day, for two weeks in that community.

Also on that trip, church members met a man named William, whose house they began repairing and restoring. Upon their return to Rosedale and telling his story, other church members were so moved and motivated to help him that they have continued their efforts to fund repairs and rebuild his home— setting a goal of getting his family back into their home before Christmas 2017. 18

Providing help and hope through chaplaincy has proven to be a critical element in disaster response, and Virginia Baptists have recently increased their efforts tremendously in this area. At the 2016 annual meeting, BGAV leaders started a journey with Texas Baptist Chaplaincy to relaunch their Disaster Crisis Care Chaplaincy team. “This August we trained 14 new chaplains,” explained Aaron Lee, disaster response coordinator. “Just weeks later, as Harvey made landfall, we had the opportunity to mobilize many of these team members to Texas and Florida—to hear the stories firsthand and to offer support to individuals. What had been hypothetical situations became real-life experiences.” Chaplains are able to provide spiritual and emotional support that is of great importance, often by providing an experienced listening ear to those who need to tell their stories—those who need to be heard as they process their trauma and grief. During the multi-faceted, complex process of recovering from disaster, trained chaplains can help individuals in unique ways that go beyond physical assistance. This story was told at the Monday night gathering at the 2017 BGAV Annual Meeting. Visit to watch a video from that night. For more information, visit 19

Dr. For many years, Virginia Baptists have had a mutually beneficial relationship with Austrian Baptists. One of the most important keys to the success of that relationship has been, and continues to be, Dr. Andrea Klimt. Klimt and her husband, Walter, moved to Vienna, Austria in 1992 and started the Free Church Project, a Baptist dormitory and collegiate ministry that focused on life together and on being authentically connected to the surrounding community. That project gave birth to a church plant called project:gemeinde (Project:Church). During a partnership between the BGAV and Austria Baptists in the early 2000s, many volunteers helped renovate the dormitory, which houses the collegiate ministry and church as well as the Austria Baptist Union’s office. Walter Klimt is now the general secretary of the Austria Baptist Union. “I remember especially the dedication and hard work of the teams that laid the wooden floor in the Mollardgasse Church and landscaped the courtyard in Krummgasse,” recalled Klimt. “Virginia Baptists have also explored the value of mutuality by receiving volunteer teams from Austria,” she explained. Two Strudelteams engaged in outreach ministry in many churches and on college campuses. Several youth teams have participated in Impact Mission Camps (formerly Impact! Virginia) and other local ministries. Austrians and Virginians worked together in a disaster relief team that responded to Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua. “I still have friends from that experience,” Klimt recalled. For many years, Klimt has been involved in the European Baptist Mission (EBM) in several ministries, designing and implementing a reciprocal partnership in which South African pastors worked in Austria and Germany, and designing and implementing the program for the EBM that trains and debriefs long-term volunteers. She has ministered as a board member of a social initiative that ministers to and among prostitutes in Vienna, and she has published a developmentally appropriate Bible for children. Throughout her various ministries, Klimt has had an open door at her home and imprinted radical hospitality on the church that she started and co-pastored with her husband. That church has embodied such hospitality as they have reached out to refugees, ministering to individuals and families by aiding them in integration and resettlement. Many long-term volunteers have had their lives transformed by working with this church in Vienna, and several have settled in Vienna to continue their ministry there.

Dr. Andrea Klimt leads a breakout session during the 2017 BGAV Annual Meeting in Hampton, VA.


Andrea Klimt

Longtime Friend to Virginia Baptists

One such young minister is Cesar Sotomayor, a church planter whom Virginia Baptists have sponsored through the Mission Partnership program of the European Baptist Federation. Sotomayor was an intern there and now ministers to Farsispeaking Afghans as well as Iranians in Vienna, and he also started a Hispanic church.

ministers so that they can become more effective and balanced leaders.” At the BGAV annual meeting, she led a breakout session called “Refugees, Immigrants, Brothers, and Sisters: An International Perspective.” Some of her most memorable experiences during her visit were seeing firsthand all the flood buckets, the shower unit, and other supplies related to BGAV’s Disaster Relief efforts, and also her time at Mount Tabor Baptist Church, an African American congregation where they directly addressed issues of social justice and reconciliation. Klimt and her husband visited Manassas Baptist Church, where they thanked them for their special support of Sotomayor and the churches he is planting in Vienna. She visited and spoke at other churches as well, including Deep Run Baptist Church and Richmond’s First Baptist Church, where she dialogued with leaders and laypeople about ministries to immigrants and refugees.

“The project:gemeinde church has always appreciated the contributions of our interns from Virginia. They have been of great help in developing our church. Currently we have seven interns, four of whom are from Virginia,” explained Klimt. The church has demonstrated how a church can be part of a wider community, embracing people from all backgrounds and participating in public life. “Our interns are involved in refugee integration and accumulate valuable experience in sharing life with persons from other cultures. This is very helpful when they go back to leadership roles in Virginia,” she added. “Intercultural exchange helps open your perspectives, and the BGAV has benefited from its relationship with Baptists in Austria by experiencing how Christians in another culture live out their faith.”

Klimt is particularly grateful for the interaction she had with the students and faculty at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR). She attended some lectures at BTSR and also at Union Presbyterian Seminary, gaining some didactical inspiration for her own lectures related to supervised ministry, pastoral care, Christianity and culture, and urban ministry and social justice. “I met some of the professors who also teach practical theology and had conversations about their subjects, their research, and about what is relevant to teach to students in preparation for pastoral ministry.”

Since earning her doctorate from the University of Vienna, Klimt has been the Professor of Practical Theology at the German Baptist Seminary in Elstal, just outside Berlin. She commutes weekly between Berlin and Vienna. Every few years, professors at the seminary have a research semester during which they do not have to teach classes; instead, they use the time to read, write, and do things that will enhance their ability to be a professor, serve the seminary, and be a resource for the churches of their union.

“BTSR has been delighted to welcome Andrea to campus this past fall,” commented Tracy Hartman, acting vice president of academic affairs and dean. “Our students and faculty have been enriched learning about her work in practical theology and theodicy. We will now be working with Andrea to develop a student Mission Immersion Experience to Austria and Germany. We are confident that this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.”

During her most recent research semester in late 2017, Klimt traveled to Virginia, where she stayed and worked for seven weeks among many Virginia Baptists in order to pursue two main goals: expanding on her dissertation by doing more research on Baptist adults’ concepts of God and also improving her academic English, as she is frequently called upon to participate around the world in dialogues and work groups in English.

A personal note from Andrea to Virginia Baptists: Project: Vienna is our internship program for young people that includes church ministry, community work, and theological reflection. We would like to have more participants from Virginia. If you are interested, please contact Glenn Maddox, BGAV missions mobilizer, at 800.255.2428, ext. 7269, or

During her time in Virginia, she attended the Baptist Collegiate Ministries fall gathering at Eagle Eyrie, the BGAV annual meeting in Hampton, and an Uptick meeting. Klimt commented, “It is quite impressive how Uptick prepares and supports young 21

NOT LOST IN by Will Cumbia Will Cumbia currently serves as a BGAV Venturer in Vienna, Austria. Greetings from Vienna! As I learn to traverse a new place and a new culture, I want to share some observations and thoughts that I’ve had. It is exciting, exhausting, and interesting to live in a foreign place. Though the language barrier is tough to navigate, I have been amazed at the beautiful things that transcend language and bring us together. Some things don’t need any translation. Some things are understood even when language barriers seem to divide us. As any good Baptist knows, food needs no translation. Sharing a meal with people doesn’t require words, only presence and some “Mmmms.” Laughter needs no translation. Smiles need no translation. We can share joy with others even when we may not even know others’ words for joy. Hiking and swimming and nature need no translation. You don’t need words when you are standing with someone on a mountain in the Alps overlooking a crystal clear blue lake. Words in any language cannot begin to describe that beauty. Music needs no translation. We can sing together even if we are singing in different languages. Perhaps most importantly, dancing needs no translation. All you need is a beat and zero reservations. And most importantly, Jesus and God’s love need no translation. Hugs and tears and God’s spirit are understood when we have no words to describe them. We can share holy moments with others without uttering a single word. And that is profoundly beautiful to experience. The past months have only been a taste of what the rest of this year will bring; joy, tears, frustration, laughter, smiles, headaches, and a whole lot of love. I am excited to continue living life in this wonderful community and to experience more holy moments.


Villagers carry mosquito nets back to their homes.

More Than Nets Hits 81,400 Nets

by Dean Miller

More Than Nets has distributed 81,400 nets to 345 villages since the project began in 2012! The four sub-districts that are completely netted have experienced a 43% decline in cases of malaria. $200,000 is still needed in order to reach the goal of distributing 100,000 nets to the entire Yendi region. In addition to securing better health and well-being for these villages, Virginia Baptists have planted 448 churches, and more than 20,000 people have received Christ as their Lord and Savior. More than 10,000 of those have followed through with baptism. The partnership with the local church planters through the Ghana Baptist Convention and the Global Mission Outreach Center has been tremendous. More than 100 Virginia Baptist volunteers have traveled to Ghana to assist with this project, and each one has been blessed beyond measure.


Will you consider helping us reach our goal of purchasing and distributing 100,000 nets? A contribution of just $10 will purchase a net, provide transportation to the village, educate villagers in the safe and proper use of the net, and help purchase a drum set for the new church plant. You could also travel with a team to Ghana and help with the distribution of nets, planting churches, and baptism services. Give today at

To donate a mosquito net, visit


TO SHARE GOD’S WORD WITH THE HOMEBOUND by Tony Brooks the older person’s life. I took the youth to McDonald’s for ice cream afterwards and heard great things God did through their ministry. Start a class at a nursing home. If you have two or three members at the same nursing home, why not start a Bible study class? (Start one in a nursing home in your community either way!) It doesn’t have to be on Sunday mornings. Whatever schedule works best for them and for the teacher is what matters. You may be surprised at how others at the nursing home will join you. These classes count as a Sunday School class in attendance and care.

“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:32 ESV)

Send recordings of a Sunday School class discussion or have someone read the lesson and record it. I have seen both approaches work well in churches. Some classes had a member who was no longer able to come, so they recorded their Sunday School lesson and took it to them to hear later in the week. Another person read the quarterly material and recorded it for persons who were sight challenged, and they distributed copies during the week.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27 ESV) One of the ways we can think of Sunday School/small groups outside the church walls is with our homebound members. Have you considered ways to share God’s word with your homebound/shut-in members and those in the nursing homes? These individuals were often the backbone of the church in years past and still want to feel as though they matter. After all, they do matter to God. Here are some ideas:

The bottom line is that scripture commands us to care for those who cannot join us regularly because of health reasons. Make plans to show you care through Sunday School and small groups!

Set up good records of how many shut-in members you have and begin with a care ministry. Is it possible to begin a care ministry where one or more Sunday School classes/small groups offer care? Provide a fruit basket at Christmas and visit the homebound members on a regular basis, including caroling at Christmas. (Set up a Homebound Ministry Team in your church if a Sunday School class doesn’t take on the ministry to visit the homebound members once a month.) Get your youth involved in a care ministry to homebound members. At one church, I took the middle school youth once a week after school to a nursing home. (I got permission from the parents and school to pick them up with the church van every Wednesday.) They each developed a friendship with someone at the nursing home, read scripture, and heard stories about 25



CHANGE by rusty mullins

When I was growing up, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were never that big of a deal. Most years, we would sit in the living room watching a rerun of Johnny Carson until midnight was just minutes away. My father did not like Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show and would often mumble, “How can you call that music at all?” I think he actually felt betrayed, in a sense, by Dick Clark. We would sit together with our wood-burning stove roaring in the background and watch as the ball would slowly descend, and at the end of its journey we would celebrate the fact that we had entered a new year. At that point, after the clock hit midnight and we had a few moments of celebration, my dad would call it a night and rouse my younger brother, who had slept through the whole thing. I would then flip the channel back to the Dick Clark show and watch with my mom, who was sitting in her recliner, crunching ice. We liked the music. After the college football bowl games and people urging you to eat black-eyed peas (I’ve never understood that one), the most common practice for the new year is to make a resolution. On the first day of the year you promise to. . . fill in the blank. The trouble with new year’s resolutions is the fact that a resolution made on the first day of the year has no greater ability to be kept than a promise made any other day of the year. Just because you say it on January 1 does not mean that you are actually going to do what is needed to make that happen. The only new year’s resolution I have ever made that I actually kept was a few years ago when I resolved to never make a new year’s resolution again. So far, so good. Such “resolutions” rarely make a change in our lives. While it may be a good idea, and while our inner spirits may want to make changes to better ourselves, I think the words of Jesus to Peter, James, and John in the garden of Gethsemane are very true: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). While we may look for times in our lives to make changes that we realize would be good for us, whether or not we stick to that positive change normally has nothing to do with the timing. Admittedly, swearing off sweets the week before Valentine’s Day would not be ideal, but if you are serious about needing to 26

make a change, you can do that at any time. It really depends on you and how serious you are about the change. I once had a church member who was told by his doctor, while he was still young, that if he didn’t lose a lot of weight, the knee replacement he just experienced would not mean much. The new knee would last for a period, but his weight was making everything difficult. He was also told that if he wanted to see his son grow up, he would have to change the way he ate and lived. From that day he altered his life. He took seriously the words of the doctor and changed his diet and lifestyle. I believe that Jesus, in the scriptures, gives us the key to making important changes in our lives. In Luke 9, Jesus shares with his disciples, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” And there is your answer! What, you missed it? If we want to make lasting change we can accomplish it by denying ourselves—not only doing what we want—and choosing to do the right thing daily. Life rarely offers onceand-done decisions. If we want to make lasting change, it is a daily walk and action—choosing to do what is right over what we may desire. It requires repetition and devotion just like our spiritual walk. Do you need to make a positive change in your life? There’s no need to wait 11 months to do so. Right now, with the power of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to deny yourself, you can choose to make that change. The key to being successful is to continue to make that decision each day. Rusty Mullins is the pastor of New Highland Baptist Church, Mechanicsville, VA.

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It’s not too early to start thinking about summer service! Impact Mission Camps Impact Chesterfield/KingsFest Impact Bluefield/Together for Hope Impact Eastern Shore Impact Danville Impact Danville Impact Liberty, TX (hurricane response) Impact Toronto, Ontario, Canada Impact Norway

June 17-23, 2018 June 24-30, 2018 July 8-14, 2018 July 15-21, 2018 July 22-28, 2018 July 13-23, 2018 July 15-22, 2018 Date TBD

Register for Impact Mission Camps now:

COSTS: • All camps are $275 • KingsFest add-on is $50 • Cost for Liberty does not include transportation Churches new to Impact will receive one free adult spot for every six youth registered!

Summer Venturers OPPORTUNITIES INCLUDE: Domestic (includes a stipend): • Impact Mission Camps Staff • Disaster Response Team

International*: • Austria • Haiti • Panama • Romania • South Africa

Get more information about Summer Venturers:

* FOR INTERNATIONAL TRIPS: Flight and insurance covered, students raise funds for in-country costs and stipend

BGAV Express - Winter 2018  
BGAV Express - Winter 2018  

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