On Tuesday, CBFVA celebrated its 30th anniversary at First Baptist Waynesboro. This meeting was full of hope, laughter, challenge, incredible music, and fierce friendships. During our morning worship, we celebrated the successful tenure of Terry Maples and installed Mark Snipes as the new coordinator of CBFVA.

An unexpected theme emerged during our meeting: a renewed need for connection. At our Coordinating Council meeting, which happens the night before our full gathering, time after time the theme of “connection” came up. As we sat around tables, we discussed the need to get ministers and churches together in creative ways to advance collaboration and to help churches learn from one another. Our council felt passionate about breaking down the isolation that so many pastors and congregations experience.

During our morning worship, Dr. Art Wright, the Pastor of Williamsburg Baptist, was tasked with giving us a challenge about the future of our fellowship. Art told us about ways that CBFVA had connected with his congregation and the life that connection had brought. Art went on to talk about the good things that were happening at his church but authentically acknowledged that not everything was perfect. Art added “We need you. We need each other. We need you standing in our corner, we need you cheering us on and we want to be in your corner, cheering you on, as well. I am confident as we move forward together, we will find not only do we need each other to support us on the hard days, we will find ourselves and our communities flourishing as we partner together.”

During the live Podcast, hosted by Seth Price and “Can I Say that in Church” podcast, Mark Snipes told a story about a young man he met on a CBFVA trip to Haiti to meet CBF Field Personnel, Jenny Jenkins. In this story, Mark talked about how this trip, and the young man he met, created a new passion in him not only for feeding the poor but for confronting systems that keep people in cycles of poverty.

As Mark talked to people of faith about his experience, he unexpectedly found resistance from other Christians who said that “these systems do not exist and that the poor are poor because they are either lazy or God had chosen them to be poor.” Mark added, “To truly love one neighbor, sometimes we must tell another neighbor that they are wrong.” He continued “We need to push one another, standing up for truth and justice because our theology has real-world consequences.”

In Paul Baxley’s final challenge, Paul continued this theme by challenging us to “Provoke one another in love to good works,” from Hebrews Ch. 10. Paul challenged us to push one another in doing more in our communities and in the world. Paul challenged congregations and ministers to “give our best” to the world because the world deserves the “best we have to offer.” Perhaps the best we have happens most effectively when we work together.

As moderate Baptists, sometimes we feel even more isolated. We hear so many religious voices that seek to isolate us, make us fear the “other”, and make us feel like an outsider in the greater religious landscape. At CBFVA, we strive to provide space and community for you and your congregation to come and know you are not alone. We accept you as you are. You have fellow sojourners on this path and they are cheering you on as you strive to do the work that God is calling you to do.

We are so grateful to First Baptist Waynesboro for the hospitality shown to us. We are also grateful for those who took a Tuesday, in the midst of a busy schedule, to come and be a part of this community. We are better together than we are apart.

Also from our meeting “$39 Investment in Theological Education”

CBFVA announced the launch of the Theological Education Endowment Fund with the goal of providing high-quality theological education at an affordable cost. We believe so strongly in this work that CBFVA made an initial investment of $100,000. Now we need your help. As Terry Maples concludes 39 years of full-time vocational ministry on September 30, would you consider offering a $39 gift to the fund to help us launch the next generation of ministerial leaders? What a testimony it would be 39 years from now to have another retiring minister bear witness to the power of CBFVA’s investment in their ministry beginning in their first days of theological training. Click here to be directed to the endowment fund.

If you know an individual or a church who would like to make a gift to the endowment, please contact Mark Snipes or Melissa Fallen, and we will be happy to meet with you.