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OPINION

Brian Autrey elected SBC of Virginia exec

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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GLEN ALLEN, Va (BP) -- Brian Autry has been elected as executive director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBC of Virginia) in a unanimous vote by the state convention's Executive Board.
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Autrey, 41, founding pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Moseley, Va., will take office on May 16.

"It's a great day," said Doyle Chauncey, SBC of Virginia's treasurer and interim executive director. "He's going to bring a different dimension to our convention. Our church planters are going to be extremely excited about a church planter who has been very successful.

"I think it's an exciting new beginning for the SBC of Virginia," Chauncey continued. "We've had several new beginnings, and every new beginning turns out to be something that God's up to, and we later find out what it's all about."

SBC of Virginia's former executive director, Jeff Ginn, left the post he had held for three years in August 2011 to become pastor of Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., where he continues to serve. Chauncey, the convention's founding executive director, was named interim executive director upon Ginn's departure and the Executive Board immediately formed a search committee.

The committee considered multiple candidates from across the nation but, in the end, unanimously voted to present Autry to the Executive Board.

"Brian did not seek the position, but we sought him," said search committee chairman Kelly Burris, pastor of Kempsville Baptist Church in Virginia Beach. "He had been recommended to us by several people. The more we began to talk with him, the more impressed we were of the passion that he had for the SBC of Virginia."

SBC of Virginia's president, Randy Hahn, pastor of Colonial Heights (Va.) Baptist Church, noted, "We've got somebody with experience with Virginia -- somebody with experience with the SBC of Virginia."

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Burris, in his presentation to the Executive Board prior to their May 8 vote, noted various goals that Autry had for the SBC of Virginia.

"He wants to plant strong churches that stay strong," Burris said. "He wants the SBC of Virginia to mentor and encourage courageous leaders; to lead the Southern Baptist Convention in planting ethnically diverse congregations; to advance Christ's mission -- the Great Commission -- by mobilizing followers of Jesus; to see our members become our missionaries."

Autry said he is optimistic about the opportunity to serve the SBCV's churches.

"I look forward to seeing how God is going to continue to use the SBC of Virginia as a marvelous coalition of churches of great Kingdom impact and advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Autry said.

Autry has been part of the SBC of Virginia for 16-plus years. He began working for the convention in 2000 as the student evangelism director. In 2002, he left that role to plant Parkway Baptist, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

"We have an average of 900 people in attendance each weekend and a little more than 1,000 members," said Derek Futrell, Parkway's pastor of worship and missions.

Ginn, SBCV's former executive, praised the board's decision, describing Autry as "wonderfully suited to this new, vital role. He is teachable, experienced, proven, fruitful, visionary and creative. Add him to the mix of the SBCV's current staff and unique vision and it is a winning combination. I rejoice to hear the good news and back it 100 percent."

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In addition to his work with SBC of Virginia, Autry was a missionary with the North American Mission Board from 2000-05. His ministry reaches further back than that, having worked as associate pastor of students and education at Kempsville Baptist Church from 1996-2000.

Autry graduated from James Madison University in 1992 with a bachelor of science in both psychology and political science. He earned his master of divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina in 1996. In 2002, he received his doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a focus in evangelism, church growth and church consulting.

Autry and his wife Jennifer have three children: Melissa, Mark, and Jenna.

Brandon Pickett is director of media services for the SBC of Virginia; Amanda Sullivan is a writer for Innovative Faith Resources. For more information about the SBC of Virginia, visit www.sbcv.org.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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