October 2014 visionUpdate
Released: Tuesday, November 04, 2014
VAIB | visionUPDATE
Great Conference—Messages Available for Free Download
I will say more later in this letter, but the kickoff of the “ONE Voice for Liberties” conference was very well received. Some have asked about obtaining copies of the messages from the conference, and I’m happy to inform you that you can download the messages for free by going to the “Education” tab of the VAIB website at http://vaib.org/education/conference-recordings/. Make your plans now to come to the conference next year, September 17 & 18, 2015, back at Landmark Baptist Church!
The Year Ahead 2014-2015
The Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists (VAIB) has a vision “to advance the rights, values and liberties of the Independent Baptists in Virginia.” To accomplish this vision, we work in the following three areas:
- Strengthen. We strengthen your liberty by staying informed on the issues and pursuing strategic relationships.
- Educate. We educate God’s people on the issues that are facing Independent Baptists at both the state and federal levels.
- Involve. We involve everyone as one voice in the process by being informed about the issues and by providing opportunities for action.
As I look over the accomplishments of last year leading up to our annual conference in September, I realize we achieved many successes; we also identified several areas where we could improve. The purpose of this visionUPDATE is to relate our goals for the year ahead and what will be done to reach them.
The 2014 General Assembly results give us one measure of how well we are building effective relationships with delegates and senators. This session saw over 2800 pieces of legislation introduced. Approximately 200 of these were considered as having potential impact on churches, religious liberties, and other related areas. Of these, fifty bills were actively targeted by VAIB, requiring comment or action by the executive director. Of the 22 we supported, ten passed; of the 28 we opposed, only 2 passed. This gives an overall “success rate” of 72%. We were encouraged by the rejection of bills that attempted to give preferential treatment for sexual orientation and for the acceptance of bills that gave continued protection for traditional marriage. Unfortunately, recent decisions by various federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court have opened the door for same-sex marriages in Virginia. Now we must work to protect churches regarding their stand on this issue and keep vigilant watch for other possible restrictions of religious liberty.
Elections have consequences. Electing those with conservative, biblical values is critical to the appointment of judges with the same values. I believe God will bless when He sees His people actively involved and seeking to make a difference in the political arena, which includes but goes beyond voting. Polls have indicated a low involvement by evangelicals in elections over the past four years, as low as 25%. You are only one person; you can only cast one vote, but you can and should do that at the very least.
To provide vital information to our churches and people, we will continue educating in the following ways:
- The VirginiaVOICE will continue to be sent monthly by email and regular mail to churches and by email to those who sign up for CapitolALERTS.
- The visionUPDATE (this letter) will be sent to all churches twice per year, emphasizing to non-supporting churches the value of supporting VAIB.
- The CapitolALERT is our email alert system, used to inform churches and individuals regarding an issue that requests action on the part of the recipient. These will usually be sent during the General Assembly session (January through April) but may also be sent when other key issues arise throughout the year. This system is designed to send churches and individuals an alert and facilitate sending a message to the respective senator or delegate regarding the issue in question.
- The ONE Voice for Liberties Conference will continue to meet every September for the purpose of encouraging and educating those who attend. We are working and praying for more to attend each year as they see VAIB as their key source for information on religious liberty issues.
- The website www.vaib.org connects numerous people with VAIB, as do Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn. On average, our website has 50 visits per week. On Facebook we have over one thousand “likes!” We ask that each of you like us on Facebook and spread the word to others!
- Video production is a new outreach for VAIB. In 2013, we produced a promotional video to introduce new churches to the ministry. In 2014, we produced a legislative update video. Our goal is to produce an annual legislative update video for me to take to every supporting church every year. This will facilitate better connection between VAIB and supporting churches and serve as a great tool for churches sponsoring a “VAIB Sunday.”
- What is a “VAIB Sunday”? It’s an opportunity to remind your church who VAIB is and what we do, to allow me to reconnect with your people, and to provide continuity between my visits to supporting churches. For more information on how your church can host a “VAIB Sunday,” contact our office today.
- CapitolALERTS were sent four times in 2014. I have no data showing the number of those who responded to legislators, other than a few comments made by legislators. But we are thrilled to have over one thousand people signed up! And we are committed to our goal to have 14,000 by the end of 2017. We need pastors to announce to their churches and people to tell their friends to sign up for CaptiolALERTS on our website: vaib.org.
- ONE Voice for Liberties Conference: I am encouraged by many of the comments from those who attended the conference. This was the first year we asked for registrations so we could prepare materials for each of you who attended. So go ahead and put next year’s dates on your calendar now—September 17 & 18, 2015, at Landmark Baptist Church. Determine now to attend. Online registration begins April 1, 2015. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to be further educated and encouraged regarding religious liberty issues in Virginia. And don’t wait too long to reserve a hotel room. This is just before the 2015 World Cycling Tour Championships (September 19-27), and millions are expected to descend on Richmond. No one will block off rooms for our group or give special pricing, so find what you can and reserve your room early. Look for more information on vaib.org and in updates coming in early 2015.
- We need every Independent Baptist church to see the value of supporting us financially. Last year, we were at a low of 171 supporting churches. As of today, we have 180 supporting churches. We schedule 30 weekends per year to visit churches, with 30% of those being non-supporting churches. I have made weekday appointments with pastors, or I just “drop by” on our travels back home. I have been in pastors’ fellowships and other special meetings. But I have discovered nearly a dozen churches so far who have never heard of VAIB! This is both a blessing and a concern: a concern in realizing just how many other churches must not know there is a voice out there speaking for them; a blessing as I see the excitement on many pastors’ faces at knowing there is someone serving as a strong voice for their Christian liberties. Pray God will continue to open doors, open minds, and open hearts. Pray for strength for Carol and me and for God’s blessing as we do this “good work.”
By striving toward these goals, we want VAIB to be regarded as the resource for Independent Baptist churches when it comes to being educated and involved on issues regarding religious liberties, particularly in Virginia.
Every year we will re-evaluate what we have done and determine how we can do our ministry better. Contact us if you have any ideas for improvement.
It is our prayer that every pastor and church member will see the importance, the quality, and the value of the ministry of VAIB and that this will lead to more churches becoming actively involved with VAIB.
“Your voice for liberty”
Rev. Eddy Aliff