What is VBC – Virginia Baptists Committed?
Virginia Baptist Committed began in 1980 as an informal network among moderate Virginia Baptists happy with and working within the Baptist General Association of Virginia but concerned about the announced takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. The group was “committed” to preserving the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist General Association. Following the takeover of the SBC in 1990 the group took renewed interest in cooperating with the BGAV and in supporting candidates who are committed to advancing and preserving our precious principles as Virginia Baptists and in supporting and defending historic Baptist principles and to opposing any initiative that departs from those principles.

What Does the VBC Do?
We are committed to:
* Telling the bona-fide story of Virginia Baptists
* Advocating the supporting authentic Baptist polity
* Encouraging continued and enthusiastic support of the BGAV
* Clarifying the role of Virginia Baptists in the larger Baptist family
* Strengthening the BGAV and its continuing ministries
* Disseminating accurate information about the BGAV
* Ending the migration of churches from the BGAV
* Encouraging the attendance and ongoing participation of maintream Virginia Baptists at the annual meeting of the BGAV

Our Shared Values
The shared values of VBC are the same as those the BGAV has held and continuously reaffirms since 1823:

Centrality of Christ
Authority of the Holy Scripture
Priesthood of Believers
Soul Compentency
Religious Liberty
Separation of Church and State
Autonomy of the Local Church
Believers Baptism
Respect for Persons
Intellectual Integrity
Cooperative Spirit
Compassion for Unbelievers
Responsiveness to a Changing World

The Agenda of Virginia Baptists Committed

Virginia Baptists Committed came into being as an informal effort among Moderate Virginia Baptists to support and defend the hallmark Baptist principles in the General Association of Virginia. For many years this loose-knit group of pastors and lay people who understood what was at stake as Fundamentalists hijacked the Southern Baptist Convention, worked together to organize Virginia Baptists to attend conventions and to turn back the take-over in the national convention and later in the General Association.  Because Virginia Baptists have characteristically understood and supported Baptist principles, we were successful in keeping the General Association from going the way of the SBC and so many of the state conventions.

With the withdrawal of Fundamentalists into the break-away organization, SBCV, the dynamics in the General Association have changed somewhat.  In recent years, there has been no strong presence of those pushing the Fundamentalist agenda at the state meetings.  Unlike our Baptist brothers and sisters in other states, we have not been in the position of feeling like disfranchised strangers at our state convention.  The question naturally arises, what then is the agenda of Virginia Baptists Committed?  If the fundamentalists no longer show up at the Association in great numbers, if they no longer promote candidates, what is the purpose of a continued VBC?  This is an effort on my part to answer that question.

It is important to understand that joint or cooperative effort is necessary if we Virginia Baptists take seriously our “citizenship” within the General Association. There is need and value in meeting and communicating among ourselves to think about and discuss the work of the Association and the issues we face together. This has always been the case.  Large or small, informal networks of interested Virginia Baptists have always taken counsel of each other as they sought to influence the direction and decisions of the body.  The annual meetings only partially provide the venue for consulting, reflecting, and communicating.  VBC exists to provide such a venue, to allow us to discuss the most compelling issues among ourselves and to join hands in supporting initiatives and candidates that we believe will advance our work and preserve our precious principles as Virginia Baptists.

That having been said, there are pressing concerns that still call for our support.  I would urge them upon all of us as agendas we need to support and that require our common effort in the Virginia Baptists Committed organization.

We are living in a time when a full understanding and support of the great principle of the separation of church and state is crucial.  Religious liberty is too often under assault these days from special interest groups whose idea of religious liberty is their liberty to call upon the state to open its coffers to their ministries, and to enforce their religious convictions on their fellow citizens.  There are, sadly, too many Baptists who buy into the notion that the separation of church and state is not an essential part of the Constitution or of the Baptist way.  We, as VBC need to work with our fellow Baptists and within the BGAV to support this key Baptist distinctive.

A second agenda that requires our continued presence and support is that of the placement of pastors and church staff. The future of Virginia Baptists quite literally will be determined by how effective we are in matching qualified moderate ministers and staff members with Virginia churches. The Baptist system is one of informal networking in this regard.  VBC as an informal network of people committed to Baptist principles is in a unique place to help meet this vital challenge if we will seriously exert ourselves in that effort.  I urge us to do so.

Our third major agenda, already implicit in the first two, is to continue to be a group that understands, teaches, and uses its combined influence to support and promote faithfulness to the defining principles of Baptists in our churches and in the General Association, and to oppose any initiative that strays from those principles. We are a watch-dog group for Baptist principles.

A fourth agenda is to work to implement and maintain the autonomy of the BGAV. The General Association is not a farm team of the Southern Baptist Convention.  The Southern Baptist Convention in the hands of its established power group has moved away in vital ways from who and what Virginia Baptists are.  Still, a lion’s share of the mission funds which are sent beyond Virginia go into the coffers of the SB C.  As the SBC has rejected and withdrawn from the Baptist World Alliance, as it has dumped the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, as it has savaged career missionaries in the name of a new creedalism, a whole new response in missions support and giving has become necessary.  Many of us have long since determined that it made no sense to ship money by the bale to an outfit that had no life wish for the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and that uses funds in ways antithetical to who we are. VBC can perform a vital service by continuing to encourage our Virginia Baptist brothers and sisters to make informed decisions about the ways in which their churches’ missions funds are spent.  We must continue to support the autonomy of the General Association in its autonomous existence in relation to the SBC.

A fifth agenda of VBC is to provide the network or venue described above in which we can discuss with our peers the concerns of Virginia Baptists, can promote messenger participation in the annual meetings, and can support candidates for state office who are supportive of the principles and agendas to which our principles commit us. This is the purpose that has brought us together in the first place.  It is our effort to encourage and challenge each other in the exercise of denominational citizenship.

VBC performs a sixth very useful service.  We aspire to provide a friendly and constructive dialogue with the professional staff of the General Association. We offer those who participate in VBC an opportunity to take counsel of each other regarding the work of Virginia Baptists to the end that we can then represent the concerns of a significant group of rank and file Virginia Baptists to our agencies and staff. We see this as an ongoing function vital to the health of the BGAV.  We have performed this task very circumspectly in the past.  When we differed among ourselves significantly, we respected that and did not put forward to BGAV an agenda on which we were not agreed.

A seventh agenda also looms on the horizon for all of us.  There is the possibility of a new national Baptist nexus as moderate state conventions look at ways in which they can partner together in mission endeavor.  The various national moderate entities like Mainstream and CBF may well find new ways to fulfill the Great Commission, along with other institutions that have come into being to serve “free and faithful Baptists.”  VBC will have an investment in supporting and assisting our brothers and sisters and the Baptist churches of Virginia in understanding and responding to these new developments.