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September-October 2015

We're asking every FWB family in Virginia to help in a yearly offering to aid our church-planting efforts. If every family would give just $12.00 in this one-time, yearly offering (that's $1 per month for the family), we could raise $16,000 yearly for this much-needed effort.


The offering will help the Virginia Mission Board meet the needs of missionary training and encouragement as well as help fund projects needed by the mission works. If "Each One" of our FWB families will "Plant One" dollar per month, this yearly investment seed will encourage the growth of self-supporting FWB churches right here in Virginia.


Please start now preparing for this offering! 

JANUARY 31, 2016

A Publication of Virginia Free Will Baptists

Each One Plant One
2016 Pastor's Retreat

Each of the links below will take you directly to that article on this page.

VIRGINIA PASTOR'S RETREAT                 FEBRUARY 26-27, 2016

Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Conference

at Camp Rapidan Baptist Camp in Rochelle, VA


Only $50.00


Includes 3 meals, snacks, refreshments, and lodging

(personal items and sleeping bag/bedding needed)


Registration due by February 1

Registration materials and schedule have been sent to every church and pastor in the state with this month's Plumbline.


Please mark your calendars for this great event that will encourage your hearts and strengthen your ministries.















This note from Brother Barnes:


During the retreat, the promotional office is sponsoring a "break-away" meeting of all young pastors, associates, and youth pastors from Virginia(ages 40 and under). This is going to be a special time where these young men can get to know each other, to build friendships, and to build a fellowship network. In order to encourage this connection, the promotional office will fund the $50.00 cost for these  young men attending the retreat. As I have traveled across Virginia, I have met and have been impressed with these men, but most don't know one another. It is my belief (as well as others) that our state will be stronger as these men become a rising voice, influence, and participant in the Virginia State Association. Their ability to unite more closely will help that effort.





          As your General Board representative to the National Association, let me share a few thoughts about the meeting held in July. Over three thousand attendees were present as the meeting convened in Grand Rapids, MI. The theme was "The Word of God," and the messages were timely. This year, I not only served on the General Board but also on the 2015 Nominating Committee and on the Credentials Committee. Debbie and I were able to see many friends (some of which are only enjoyed at the National) as well as see various Virginia pastors and delegates. For the first time this year, Debbie was able to attend and enjoy a luncheon for the wives of promotional directors. Wednesday night was the commissioning service for FWB missionaries, and three of our Virginia missionaries were on stage. These were Marc and Cassie Neppl (pictured below center right), Kevin and Beth Bass & children (bottom right), and David and Ashley Osborne & children (top middle). We are thankful for these faithful servants who are making a difference for the cause of Christ through church planting.
          Although not a complete synopsis of all reports, there are some noteworthy points to mention. International Missions reported that funding is down and that (as best they can see the records that come to them) 66% of all FWB churches are not supporting missions; they asked for increased faithfulness in giving. Randall House rolled out a new product line and approach to curriculum called "D6, 2nd Generation." See more information on the Randall House website. Welch College reported that the West End Campus has been sold (except for the library), and construction has begun on the new campus. They hope to have the new campus ready by the fall semester of 2016, or by January 2017 at the latest. A video was shown showing the proposed campus. The FWB Foundation made special grants to various FWB National Departments. This was in preparation for even more significant grants to be awarded in the future. David Brown reported that other FWB ministries will be able to apply for grants through the Foundation. The WNAC was behind where it needed to be financially; however, with only six months of receiving the Together Way percentages of support, all expectations are good that funding will be sufficient and in line with last year's approved budget figures. You can get more information and a full report on the National Association website (

          In the pictures below, you will also see Paul Collins "grabbing" for cash ($150) to benefit Virginia Missions. This "money grab" was sponsored by the FWB Foundation. The center picture is a view of the Grand River from our 23rd floor room at the Amway Grand Plaza.
          An important document you will want to read follows the pictures. It concerns a resolution passed unanimously concerning our position as the National Association of Free Will Baptists on the Supreme Court's recent decision concerning homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

SATURDAY, February 27, 2016

Dr. Bob Brown, NORVA Clerk

12500 Chewning Lane

Fredericksburg, VA 22407



Dr. Bruce Barnes, VAFWB Promotional Director

4846 Kempsville Greens Pkwy., #303

Virginia Beach, VA 23462


Check in: 4:00 - 6:00 PM

Evening Meal: 6:00 PM

Service: 7:00 PM

Break-Away Meeting (40's & under): 9:00 PM


Breakfast: 7:30 AM

Service: 8:30 AM

Break: 9:30 AM

Service: 10:00 AM

Lunch: 11:00 AM

FRIDAY, February 26, 2016

2015 National Synopsis
2016 Pictures of the National
National Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage



WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has declared that the States may not deprive same-sex couples the fundamental right to marriage and must recognize lawful same-sex marriages in other States; and

WHEREAS, the National Association of Free Will Baptists continue to denounce homosexuality and adultery as sinful, unchristian, and already condemned by God in His Word, and

WHEREAS, the National Association of Free Will Baptists continue to believe in a Biblical definition of marriage that “Both Scripture and nature as designed by God affirm the life-long, covenantal union of one man, being male as created by God, and one woman, being female as created by God, in a one-flesh relationship;” and

WHEREAS, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants citizens the freedom to voice support of or opposition to issues that concern us, whether they be issues of law, morality, societal, educational or economic, and

WHEREAS, our sense of moral obligation and evangelistic responsibility forbids us to remain silent on issues so paramount, so eminently threatening to the moral fabric of our nation; and

WHEREAS, the National Association of Free Will Baptists recognize that we all struggle with sin; be it therefore

RESOLVED, THAT THE DELEGATES to the National Association of Free Will Baptists, convening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 19-22, 2015, reaffirm the biblical definition of marriage as occurring only between one man and one woman, and be it further

RESOLVED, that we declare marriage to be sacred and between one who is born male and one who is born female, that we adamantly oppose any redefinition of marriage, the sanction of marriage counterfeits, such as civil unions, or the legalization of same-sex marriage; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we wholly support the time-proven institution of traditional marriage as the single best arrangement for raising children and forming citizens as opposed to the radical and unacceptable alternative of same-sex marriage; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we commit ourselves to pray for and support legislative and legal efforts to oppose the legalization of same sex unions; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to our nation’s President and members of Congress, either by regular or electronic mail [funding was later provided for this resolution to be sent by letter on official letterhead from the National Association of Free Will Baptists]; and be it further

RESOLVED, that local Free Will Baptist churches be strongly encouraged to adopt a policy statement about marriage and human sexuality that will serve both to express forthrightly the church’s position on the issues and to protect the church and its ministerial staff in the event of potential legal challenges; and be it further

RESOLVED, that all the bodies in the Free Will Baptist denomination that play a role in the examination, licensing, and ordination of ministers be urged to include instruction and careful questioning on the issues involved in homosexuality and same-sex unions as part of the process to ensure that only those candidates who are in complete agreement with the Appendix to Chapter IV, Section 1, of the Free Will Baptist Treatise, as adopted in July, 2008, are licensed or ordained to preach, and so to perform marriages, as Free Will Baptist clergy; and be it further

RESOLVED, that regardless of how our motives are demonized, we reaffirm our commitment to pray for and evangelize those who are enslaved in the homosexual culture, expressing our mission: that all people be saved by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, and teaching them to separate from the immorality of this present world and its coming judgment, and that our churches will provide an environment that welcomes people who struggle with sexual sin, seeking to love all people in Jesus’ name, pointing them toward Christ’s power to forgive and heal.


TRIBUTE TO BRENDA BURKS: "A Job Well Done"     by Rev. Larry Ross, Pastor of Lighthouse FWB Church, Bedford

          Mrs. Brenda Burks, member of Chestnut Hill Free Will Baptist Church in Big Island, VA, recently resigned as clerk for the Central Virginia Free Will Baptist Association.  Brenda faithfully served in this role for 33 years.  The association honored her with a love offering.

          Brenda’s interest in association work began on April 12, 1975 during a conference meeting at New Home Church in Piney Creek, North Carolina, which was her first such experience after being saved on March 20, 1975 at Chestnut Hill Free Will Baptist.  “We had an old school bus and carried about 50 people from my church,” she recounts.  “So, from the time I’ve been saved, I’ve loved going to the conference, making lifelong friends and sharing blessings of what is going on in the Lord’s work,” she further states.

          Norma Poff of Riner Virginia was her predecessor.  When she resigned in 1981, Brenda was asked to fill in for her at the October 10, 1981 meeting, which took place at First Free Will Baptist Church in Bedford, VA (now Lighthouse FWBC).  At that time, all the churches in Central Virginia were associated with Maryland Free Will Baptists. “Rev. Bill Steel just spoke up without notice and asked me to take the minutes down for the day,” she recalls.  That took her by surprise, but she willingly accepted the challenge. 

          Brenda was officially elected to serve as clerk at the January 9, 1982 conference meeting, which took place at Woodland Heights FWBC in Martinsville, VA. From that time on, Brenda never missed a meeting except for illnesses. She has battled cancer for many years and is currently under treatment for a reoccurrence, which is partly the reason for her resignation. 

          Brenda says, “I felt that there were certainly others who were more qualified and more educated than I was, but I just tried to do my best.  After all, that is what the Lord requires.  He qualifies the called.”  To that we all say “Amen!” as well as a hearty thank you to Brenda Burks for a job well done.


          John Calhoun, Clerk of the John Wheeler Association, passed away on August 11, 2015.  As many of you might remember, we ran a Plumbline article about him last year concerning his 50-year service to the John Wheeler as clerk. He had been in the hospital since May 31 and was never able to recover sufficiently to be released. But the Lord has now released His servant for the eternal rest he so richly deserves. Our hearts are saddened at our loss but glories in all he has now gained in the Lord's presence.

          All across Virginia, we have pastors and laymen faithfully serving the Lord with little recognition, but the contribution all of these servants make to the cause of Christ and Free Will Baptists is well recorded in Heaven's Record Book. Let us thank our God constantly for the faithful laborers within the household of faith!

When Bad Things Happen

"WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN"     by D. Bruce Barnes

John 9:1-3 ¶ And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.


            It seems more and more these days that our heads shake in disbelief at the extreme evil that exists in our world as we witness the terrible things happening to the innocent. Sometimes, the thought might cross our minds as to why such bad things happen and how or why God would allow it. Let’s consider some answers in a three-part message.

            Let’s consider the question some people ask, “Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?” The response is not meant to be flippant or trite, but He is in the place where He always been. He is on the throne interacting with men, hating the sin, and working to see men saved and changed through Christ! God could miraculously come down and stop individual acts of sin, but Christ has already come to provide the salvation and transformation through which men and women are empowered to reject personal acts of evil. The answer is already present and available; it’s just not used!

            Now I realize that in specific cases we look at the horribleness of the event and can’t fathom why God would not for the innocent come down and intervene. But what we would be asking is for Him to provide a miraculous intercession every time an injustice is about to take place. The implication is not to say that God has no heart for such or that He fails in an ability to get involved. However, that would be the intent of our questioning God’s goodness. It would be like telling Him, “God, every time something unjust could happen, You have to prove Yourself by not allowing it to happen.”

            We have to reason a little further. Are we truly asking that God remove all evil? If He were to fulfill that desire, He would be calling all the unsaved to the Great White Throne Judgment. Eventually, that call will come, but I would ask of people who have refused to be saved, “Do you in truth want God to come down right now and judge all sin?” If so, that will mean that He will judge every person’s sin. And it will mean that His full judgment and damnation will fall on all sin and on all people who don’t know Jesus as Savior.

            Also, if God moved in upon every injustice, then His Word would cease to be true concerning the character of sin and the lamentable effect and result of sin. It is God Who says to Adam: “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Along with Adam we have all been a part of the death that sin brings. Paul made it clear in Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." But the answer is provided by God in Romans 5:21, T"hat as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

            So, we come back to the question, “Where is God when bad things are happening?” He is on the throne remaining true to what He said sin was and the effect that sin would have. He is speaking through the Holy Spirit through conscience and conviction for such not to take place. He is always leading, guiding, and working to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ Who holds the only answer to the wages of sin.

            If people continue to doubt God’s goodness, it is because they want a God who sees the world through their circumstances and their eyes rather than through His perspective and His eyes. God is good, is love, and is loving. God does good and will bring about good and goodness. However, sin is evil, and sin will bring about more sinning. Sin does no good and will always bring about more wicked tragedy.

            Let’s consider some possibilities. If everyone were saved and lived perfectly for Jesus, would the purposeful and sinful, evil tragedies happen against the innocent? No! If the newscasts of the day focused on the true solution to such tragedies, would there not be a reduction in such crimes? Can you imagine the news outlets around the world stating something like this, “The crying need of our generation and world is that men, women, boys, and girls give their hearts to Jesus Christ so that through His grace these evil acts of sin will never happen again in our world.  We urge, yea implore, that every heart accept Jesus Christ and that He alone be served.  He is the only answer to man’s needs!”

            The reason that such will never happen is because man has set his own mind how he wants to cure problems apart from God. And as a whole, the only time man wants God in these matters is to condemn Him for allowing sin’s consequence.

            God has the answer for sin worked out, and He did so before the foundation of the world. He has provided the grace sufficient for all man’s sins and all the consequences of it, if men would accept it. He gave His only begotten Son to suffer unjustly so that man might know the grace of forgiveness and the power of redemption. He provides the grace sufficient for all to be saved and for all to do justly. But man wants it his way, not God’s way.  So our point on this matter is this, “God is working, and God is moving—but man is just not responding.”



In Part 2 to this question, we will consider “Why Would God Allow Suffering When Bad Things Happen?”


Dr. Bruce Barnes, Promotional Director          Virginia Free Will Baptist Ministries                                                                             757-407-1183

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