This post originally appeared at BGAV.org.
By the time I stepped off the plane in Vienna, Austria, in June 2000, I had already made new American friends, but the best was still in store for us.
Our Impact! International team brought two youth pastors and seven youth from six churches across Virginia to spend two weeks in Austria, ministering alongside our new Austrian friends, staying up late at camp, exploring the beauty of Vienna and the surrounding countryside and learning the faith stories of our new friends.
The true beauty of the Austrian partnership came when the Austrians visited Virginia, served on mission alongside our churches and interned in ministry at churches in Virginia.
Virginia Baptists are people of partnership. Whether it’s our neighboring BGAV church down the street or our mission partners around the world, working together allows us to accomplish infinitely more for the Kingdom together than we ever could apart.
Throughout its 190-year history, the BGAV has lived out its mission, written in the earliest days:
“The object shall be to furnish the Baptist churches of Virginia a medium of cooperation for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the advancement of the Redeemers Kingdom by all methods in accord with the Word of God.”
Jeremiah Bell Jeter and Daniel Witt, nicknamed “the Bedford Plowboys,” traveled throughout Virginia, exploring those places where God was already at work and seeking fertile ground to continue sharing the Gospel.
Virginia Baptist staff carries on that legacy, covering every corner of the Commonwealth, bringing us together around our core principles of faith in Christ and our call to serve on mission.
And like the Bedford Plowboys, each of us has set down roots in our community and know where God is already at work and where the fertile ground is.
The beauty of the BGAV comes in who we are and how we gather at the table, from each community, each church and each region.
We are city churches.
We are rural and suburban churches.
We are small and large churches.
We are medium churches and house churches.
We are new church plants.
We are historic churches.
We each have a story and we are committed to our mission.
Together, we can develop ministries to do more than we can accomplish on our own.
Together, we advance God’s Kingdom throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.
We are unconventional and always have been.
We are the BGAV.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Aaron Lee is a community ministry leader, pastor, writer, and media creator in Richmond, Va. Connect with Aaron online at www.AaronLee.co.