For years, Florida Baptists have gone above and beyond themselves to further the Kingdom of God and make much of Jesus around our country. One way we have poured into the ministries of others is through partnerships with other state conventions, like the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists (WVCSB).

“Members of Florida Baptist churches have been praying, giving and going to minister to the people of West Virginia for many years,” said Myles Dowdy, lead catalyst for missions and ministry for the Florida Baptist Convention. “The fruit produced from this ministry has been a tremendous source of encouragement to our sister churches in the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.”

Cleve Persinger, ministry director for partnerships and communication at WVCSB, said West Virginia has benefitted greatly from the resources, finances and people Florida has poured into their state over the last 16 years.

“Florida has served us well and as a result, we’ve been able to pour into our pastors,” Persinger said.

Pastors of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists pray together at their 2016 annual meeting.

Through various financial resources, WVCSB has been able to better promote Cooperative Program and state missions offerings which have resulted in more engagement with pastors and increased giving and participation. Persinger shared that thanks to help from Florida Baptists, West Virginia Cooperative Program giving exceeded budget for the first time in two decades.

Some of the money Florida Baptists have given went toward funding listening sessions between WVCSB staff and West Virginia pastors. Those meetings have led to workshops and trainings that are helping pastors be more engaged with each other and their convention.

But Persinger was quick to note it’s not only financial resources that are coming into West Virginia but people as well. He said that Florida churches have been faithfully coming to West Virginia for years and Florida Baptist ministry leaders also come and lead retreats, trainings and conferences for West Virginia pastors and churches.

Persinger shared a memory from the WVCSB annual meeting in 2016 where Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green was a featured speaker. Persinger said Green closed the meeting by calling on the pastors to come and pray for each other. After experiencing a season of disunity, Persinger said it was a watershed moment.

“The theme that year was ‘A New Day’ [and that prayer] really put an exclamation point on that,” he said. “People are still talking about it.”

Persinger said he is working with Dowdy to identify opportunities for West Virginia Baptists to give back to Florida.

“Wherever we can come alongside and serve, we want to,” he said. “It’s important that we’re striving to give more than we receive.”

Dowdy is thankful for the executive staff of the WVCSB and their Christ-centered vision and commitment to reach West Virginia with the Gospel. That Florida Baptists get to play a small part of that is just blessing above and beyond.

By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, May 15, 2018