Adam blogs at One True Joy.
The church I pastor, Drakes Branch Baptist Church, is affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia. The BGAV was instrumental in the initial formation of our church, and helped financially when the church first decided to hire a full-time pastor in the 50s. The ties between our church and the BGAV are strong. While not agreeing with everything that happens within the BGAV (Isn’t that the case with any group you choose to be a part of?), I am thankful for the things God has done over the years through our association of churches.
For almost 20 years now, the election for president of the BGAV has been uncontested every year. Since 2000, the first vice president from the previous year has been elected as president. This year that will change. Two candidates have been announced for the election for BGAV president that will take place on November 11 at Second Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. The current first vice president who will be nominated for president is Nancy McDaniel. She is the pastor of Rhoadesville Baptist Church in Rhoadesville, VA. The other candidate will be Brad Hoffmann who is the pastor of Cool Spring Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, VA.
I do not know him personally, but I am thankful that Pastor Hoffmann will be running. I have been able to use the internet to find out some information about him and the church he pastors since I learned of his candidacy. I will be in Richmond to vote, and I want to give you four reasons why I am glad that Brad Hoffmann is running for BGAV president.
- Someone had to do it.
The pattern of electing the current first vice president to the presidency year after year without opposition needs to be broken. I have no issue in theory with candidates running unopposed. I have no issue in theory with the first vice president being elected as president the following year. But we should not just assume that the current first vice president is the best person for the job. There has not been a contested officer election in recent years. If I jumped out ahead of everyone with a nomination of Pastor Billy Bob for first vice president one year, should we just assume that he should be elected unopposed and become president the following year despite the fact that he can’t spell BGAV? Of course not!
We should not feel as if we are breaking some unwritten rule by nominating a qualified candidate for an officer position within the BGAV. I had been saying for a while that I wished someone else would run for president. Apparently Pastor Hoffmann felt the same way. I am glad he chose to stick his neck out there and run.
- There are churches with in the BGAV who oppose the election of Nancy McDaniel.
I was at the annual meeting last year in Hampton when McDaniel was elected first vice president. She ran unopposed so there was no other candidate to vote for. When the moderator held the vote for first vice president, he gave the opportunity for messengers to vote for McDaniel. He then gave the opportunity for messengers to vote in opposition to her election. I am no expert on parliamentary procedure, but that seemed very strange to me and was likely a mistake by the moderator. Regardless of whether they should have been given that opportunity, several messengers voiced their opposition to McDaniel’s election as first vice president when the vote was held.
My position is that if you oppose the election of someone who is running unopposed, you should either keep your mouth shut or run against them yourself. Since I wasn’t running, I kept my mouth shut. I would have done the same thing this time if McDaniel were running unopposed again. I am glad that Pastor Hoffmann is running because now I won’t have to be silent during the election for BGAV president.
- Pastor Hoffmann’s SBC connections are strong.
I am concerned by what I perceive to be an ever widening gap between the BGAV and the SBC. Many churches within the BGAV are no longer connected to the SBC. They either give a token amount to the SBC and its offerings, or they give nothing at all. Many have strongly aligned themselves with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which continues to move further and further from traditional Christian beliefs. We need a president who will strengthen our state connections with the mission sending entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.
According to the BGAV’s 2014 Annual Report of Church Contributions, Cool Spring Baptist Church gave $105,908.43 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. They also gave $16,514.43 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Surely those numbers come from a large congregation of 1,150 in regular attendance on Sunday mornings, but they are still impressive because the LMCO offering amount is an average of over $90 per regular attender. Cool Spring Baptist Church is to be commended for their generous giving. And I am thankful for their strong commitment to the SBC.
- The BGAV needs a proven leader.
These are critical times in the Baptist General Association of Virginia. Various factors—from financial difficulties to theological differences—threaten to undermine our cooperative work. The executive board recently announced that they are proposing a budget for the coming year that is being cut from $11.5 million to $10.5 million. There is no positive way to spin that news, except to say that it is good that they have reduced the budget to match expected receipts. Being forced to decrease the budget almost 10% is a major blow to the BGAV. It is a trend that cannot continue indefinitely.
I am also concerned that the SCOTUS decision in June will highlight theological differences that exist within our association of churches, as some churches will undoubtedly choose to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies and receive homosexual couples as members and leaders in the church. It is being argued in some circles that this is an issue on which we need to be able to agree to disagree. If we have to agree to disagree on whether something is sin that the Bible clearly defines as sin, what can we agree on? I have submitted a resolution to the BGAV’s Resolution Committee that tackles this issue head on. I will be posting more about that in the coming days.
Brad Hoffmann has proven himself to be a capable leader in the churches he has pastored in the past and in his current church. I believe that he will be a bridge builder when possible, but also will stand for what is right when necessary. I say all of this to say that I am thankful for Brad Hoffmann and his willingness to run for BGAV president. If you are a Virginia Baptist, I hope you will strongly consider him as a candidate for this important office.