I sat in the recent meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (November 8-9, 2011) and witness a historic vote; and, there was not a single ‘NO’ vote in the house. It felt like a miracle!
Years ago there was a falling-out in the Virginia Baptist family between the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) and Averett University. This past year leaders of the BGAV and Averett University shared a dialogue, which culminated in the historic reconciliation vote on November 9, 2011. Averett was welcomed back into the BGAV fold.
This remarkable accomplishment was achieved for two reasons.
First, the BGAV is a remarkable organization. In 1995 angry fundamentalist left the BGAV to form their own organization, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. This left the BGAV with vintage Virginia Baptists who embody firm and sturdy beliefs wrapped in a genteel and gracious spirit. When the ‘daughter’ asked to come home there was no ‘pint of blood’ or long-winded lectures, but a gentle hug and an affectionate kiss on the forehead. I was reminded of what is best and noble in the Baptist family.
Second, Dr. Tiffany Franks is a remarkable person. When Dr. Franks was elected President of Averett University she was given a mandate by her trustees to heal the breech. What she has done in a few years is truly remarkable. Her demeanor, persistence, transparency and leadership made reconciliation possible. When I congratulated her after the vote she began singing the praises of all the people who had been so gracious in the process; deflecting my praise of her personal efforts. As she praised others I thought to myself, her focus on the common good instead of self-praise is what made us Baptists worth being around. It reflects a grace-filled soul who wants the team (Kingdom) to succeed above all else; the historic Baptist way.
Virginia Baptists are a proud bunch, in a gentle way. As a Virginia Baptist most of my life I just have to say, the BGAV is a remarkable organization and there are truly remarkable people in the family.
Grace and Peace,