BGAV Executive Director John Upton announces retirement

HENRICO, Va. (BP) – At the conclusion of the Tuesday night (Nov. 16) worship gathering of the 198th Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) Annual Meeting, John Vincent Upton Jr. announced his plans to retire as BGAV executive director effective July 31, 2022.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served the BGAV, Virginia Baptists, these past 27 years,” Upton said, as he spoke during the online-only, livestreamed event.

After Upton’s public announcement, current Executive Board Chair Rebecca McKinney said, “John, you have led us with grace, wisdom, and an ever-present sense of humor. You have built strong relationships all across the commonwealth and the world based on mutual respect and a recognition that we are stronger when we work together to grow the kingdom of God. And because of your faithfulness and commitment to the mission of the BGAV, we are uniquely positioned for the future. We cannot thank you enough.” 

She then said a search team has been named and will begin its work immediately in order to seek out the next person God is calling to serve in the role.

Upton joined the BGAV staff in 1995 as group leader for the BGAV (formerly Virginia Baptist Mission Board) mission mobilization group and was confirmed as executive director in November 2001, upon the impending retirement of Reginald McDonough. Prior to his time at BGAV, he pastored Urbanna Baptist Church in Urbanna, Va., served as a church planter in New Jersey, and worked as a missionary in Taiwan.

During Upton’s tenure as executive director, he has led the BGAV to become an internationally recognized leader in innovative missions and ministry efforts – changing not only its name, but also reimagining and expanding its identity while focusing on its unchanged mission: advancing the kingdom of Christ. 

“Thank you for trusting me for these past 20 years with this responsibility,” Upton said. “Though it is time for me to retire, what makes this announcement difficult for me is the days ahead will be some of the most exciting with some of the greatest potential. The next executive director will have the best staff in the world with whom to build that future.”

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