The 2015-2016 Year in Review and Plans for the Future
Released: Saturday, September 03, 2016
VAIB |VisionUPDATE August 2016
The 2015-2016 Year in Review and Plans for the Future
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 keeping 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 providing opportunities for action.
As I reviewed last year, I am encouraged to see what the VAIB has accomplished and has planned for the future.
We again built new relationships with legislators in Richmond while maintaining strong relationships with others. Of the 3100 pieces of legislation introduced in the 2016 General Assembly, we opposed forty-five bills with forty-three being defeated and supported forty-three bills with ten passing. Through our legislative work, we see a majority of legislators supporting religious liberties in Virginia. Unfortunately, Gov. McAuliffe vetoed some good legislation (SB41; HB131 & SB612; HB1090) and the General Assembly failed to override these vetoes.
Along with our work in Richmond, in 2015 we visited our Virginia delegation in Washington, D.C. We were received kindly by all Congressional offices. When we brought our issues to our Congressmen, all Republicans were in agreement with our positons while all Democrats had “philosophical differences.”
The VAIB does not endorse candidates or political parties. We strive to report the facts as provided in their voting records and positions on issues. We chose not to visit Congressional offices in 2016 for two reasons. First, all House of Representatives seats were up for election keeping incumbents busy running for re-elction. Second, the redrawing of five Congressional districts to correct one flawed district created more turmoil, especially when one incumbent, Rep. Randy Forbes, decided to switch districts. This move was considered politically motivated by voters and Rep. Forbes lost to Del. Scott Taylor in the primary.
Remember to vote this fall. If you haven’t registered to vote, there’s still time. Call your local registrar when you return home to see what you need to do to register. I pray you have examined the candidates well and will vote for those who support, as much as possible, biblical values.
I continue to engage more non-supporting churches as churches are scheduled. By the end of 2016, we should visit fifty-nine churches, including twenty-seven non-supporting churches. I have had several appointments with pastors of non-supporting churches and plan to have more before the year ends.
The VAIB’s Strategic Plan 2016-19 continues to follow this pattern of scheduling more non-supporting churches. This should continue to improve our financial condition and outreach.
Overall, last year’s conference was successful. This year’s conference will feature five forums during the day on Friday with evening forums on both nights. For more details, go to www.vaib.org and click on the conference banner. You can register online, too!
The website continues to be a valuable resource, especially with the integrated CapitolALERTs used to connect you with your legislator on issues. Google analytics indicates that an average of fifty people visit our website each week. The VAIB Facebook page continues to increase in outreach having over 2,000 visits per month. This page offers daily postings of news articles and comments by the executive director.
Church Support and Involvement
Thankfully, we are seeing positive results in reaching more churches. With a net increase of eight churches, we now have 188 regularly-supporting churches, with an additional twenty who have given one-time gifts this year. Our income is now in line with our budgeted goals.
Thanks to our improved financial condition, the VAIB is embarking on two new projects. First, the VAIB will produce a new promotional video. We have contracted with a professional production company, Ninth Hour Productions of Greenville, South Carolina. Filming will occur October 4-6 at the Capitol and in the Richmond area. The total cost is $10,000. We view this as an investment in a tool to inform new churches of our vison and draw interest in this ministry over the next five or more years.
Second, at the urging of the Steering Committee, we are beginning a fund for hiring an assistant to help me reach more churches faster and to assist in lobbying at the General Assembly. Thanks to our improved financial condition, the Steering Committee directed me to set aside $10,000 in a designated account and to add a line item of $1000 per month to our proposed budget to further fund this account. It has been determined that the VAIB must increase its income by nearly twenty percent to sustain an assistant. Thereafter, this assistant should be able to raise much of his funding as he enlists more new church support.
The Value of VAIB
A pastor made this statement to me: “VAIB is the only missionary which puts money back in our pocket.”
How does VAIB save your church money?
If your church takes advantage of the sales and use tax exemption, you have this benefit because the VAIB continues to make the case for exempting churches and their ministries.
If your church takes advantage of having a religious exempt day care, you have this benefit because the VAIB, along with ODACS, continue to make the case for exempting churches and their ministries.
If your church has not been required to install sprinklers in its auditorium, retroactively I might add, in the past five years, you have this benefit because the VAIB was the only church organization to successfully convince the board reviewing building code to reject the proposed amendment.
If your nursery staff, VBS staff, and Sunday school teachers have not been required to be licensed to work with children (and they haven’t), you have this benefit because the VAIB continues to urge lawmakers against such legislation.
Of the nearly five hundred independent Baptist churches in the Commonwealth, a little over two hundred are engaged with this ministry. Whether the remainder are not involved due to a lack of knowledge or understanding or finances, I will continue to inform every church. Some who fault us for being so intimately involved in the government have hinted that we are too political. So I searched the scriptures and read various authors for perspective. My resolve to continue our practices in light of our mission statement is further strengthened as I read about people of God who confronted kings and others in authority when compelled by circumstances or open sin. Examples such as:
Samuel, who confronted King Saul when the king overstepped his authority in religious matters;
Nathan, who confronted King David when he sinned to the point of murder;
Nehemiah, who was given audience before King Artaxerxes to beseech the king on behalf of the Jews in Jerusalem;
The Apostle Paul when he stood before the Sanhedrin and kings and other government officials during his ministry defending his freedom to express his faith publicly;
And finally, Jesus, the God-Man, the Author and Finisher of our faith, when he stood before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
Pastors, Christians, Friends, I ask you, how can you not be a voice? How can you not stand with this ministry, your voice for Christian liberties? As the Apostle Paul admonished in First Timothy 2:1-2, let us pray for those in authority and let us give thanks for them. Our prayers for government leaders should be for their salvation and for right governance. Our thanks for these same leaders should be because they are God’s instruments (Romans 13:1-5) to defend those who do good and punish those who do evil. But there are times when we must persist, even as the widow in Luke 18:2-5, who pleaded with the evil judge until he relented.
While our Constitution gives us opportunity, we ought to stand for and exercise our religious liberties. Our forefathers, as Benjamin Franklin related, gave us these freedoms but it is our responsibility to keep them. So as long as it is in my power, I will urge our government leaders to uphold religious liberties. The strength of my voice can be enhanced as your voice and the voices of thousands of independent Baptists across the Commonwealth join with the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists.
So I stand as, “Your voice for Christian liberty.”
Will you stand with me?
Rev. Eddy Aliff