PRINCETON, W.Va. (BP) -- West Virginia Baptists welcomed eight new churches, including their first Chinese congregation, to the convention during their 43rd annual meeting at Immanuel Baptist Church in Princeton.

The West Virginia Chinese Baptist Church in Scott Depot, sponsored by Good Shepherd Baptist Church, was constituted during a special service Aug. 11.

Messengers approved a 2014 budget of $2,698,159 -- a 1 percent increase over the current year.

The convention anticipates nearly $1.5 million in Cooperative Program gifts from the state's churches. Messengers voted to increase their giving to national and international SBC missions and ministry from 39 to 39.5 percent of CP receipts. Cooperative Program giving for 2013 was up about 1.2 percent over last year. The approved budget also included a 2 percent salary increase for convention staff.

Gary Frost, vice president for the North American Mission Board's Midwest Region, gave the meeting's keynote address.

John Freeman, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Chapmanville, was elected president. Also elected as convention officers: first vice president, John Foster, associate pastor of education of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Charleston; second vice president, Ron McCoy, pastor of Cameron Baptist Church; clerk, Jim Messenger, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in West Union. Other nominees were, for first vice president, C.J. Adkins, pastor of Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, and for second vice president, Raymond Bouchoc, pastor of Baker Heights Baptist Church in Martinsburg.

The theme for this year's Nov. 8 meeting, which drew 173 messengers and 78 guests, was "Together We Can."

Messengers approved a change to the convention's constitution that requires churches applying for membership to give to missions through the Cooperative Program. A proposed amendment to the membership change that would have also recognized "Great Commission Giving," when churches designate funds to specified Southern Baptist Convention entities, was defeated.

Messengers also defeated a proposed constitution change that would have required future convention officers to represent churches that give at least 5 percent to the Cooperative Program.

Next year's meeting will be Nov. 7 at Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes.

Based on reporting by Greg Wrigley of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.

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