Tenn. Baptists honor James Porch
JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Messengers to the 135th annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention recognized the ministry and leadership of James Porch, who has served as executive director of the convention since 1992 and has announced he will retire in August.
The Nov. 10-11 meeting at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson drew 1,173 messengers from 541 churches, the lowest attendance in 35 years.
Randy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sevierville, was elected president by acclamation, as were Poly Rouse, pastor of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, as vice president, and Jim Norman, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Mountain City, second vice president.
Messengers adopted a budget of $36 million for 2009-10, a 7.7 percent decrease from the current budget. In the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31, Tennessee Baptists had given $35,473,080.
Porch thanked Tennessee Baptists for their support through the Cooperative Program.
"Our God-honored Cooperative Program is still alive in the hearts and lives of people in Tennessee," Porch said. "Thank you, Tennessee Baptists, for continuing to give even during a year where there has been a lot of pain and misery in our pews and on our benches in our churches."
Tennessee Baptists will continue to forward 40 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to national and international missions and ministries. If the 2009-10 budget is exceeded, excess funds would be distributed on a 50-50 split with the Southern Baptist Convention.
An amendment to the budget was offered by Clayton Dunsmore, director of missions in the Cumberland Gap Baptist Association in Harrogate.
He moved that "in a spirit of fairness" the line item for "association support" in the TBC executive board section of the budget be adjusted from a cut of 14.7 percent to 7.72 percent "so that we may fairly bear the burden of the financial downturn together." The amendment would have returned approximately $89,000 to that line item.
During a discussion time later in the meeting, Dunsmore spoke in favor of his amendment, noting that convention support for associations has dropped over the years.
Lon Shoopman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Madisonville and chairman of the executive board's budget and program committee, noted the amendment would take money from other institutions and entities. He also said the action had nothing to do with the downturn of the economy. Instead, he said, it was part of a three-year process that involved leaders of both the executive board and directors of missions across the state.
After further discussion, the amendment failed and the budget was approved as presented.
In the only contested item during the convention, an attempt to remove three trustees of Carson-Newman College failed because the substitute nominees were declared ineligible.
The three trustees who were challenged all came from churches that give less than 1 percent through the Cooperative Program. In addition, two of the nominees failed to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message question that is posed to all nominees by the committee on boards. The question has been used the past several years for information and is not intended to keep individuals from serving, convention leaders say.
In the other primary business item, messengers voted down a motion to allow the question posed by the committee on committees and committee on boards to allow any version of the Baptist Faith and Message.
Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 9-10 at Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville.
Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.