'WinTN' messages undergird Tennessee annual meeting

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) -- Tennessee Baptists gathered at West Jackson Baptist Church for the annual Summit with a focus on winning their state for Jesus Christ.

New officers of the Tennessee Baptist Convention are (from left) Lee Hickman, pastor of Black Oak Baptist Church, Clinton, second vice president; David Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greeneville, president; and Bryon Edens, a member of Clingan Ridge Baptist Church, Cleveland, vice president.
Photo by James Wilson
The meeting, held Nov. 11-14, drew 929 registered messengers from 409 churches, along with 160 guests. Among the business conducted, messengers elected a new set of officers by acclamation for the coming year.

“We had a strong turnout,” said Randy C. Davis president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. “But it wasn’t just the numbers. There was a strong sense of unity among the messengers. I believe Tennessee Baptists are recognizing that if we are to reach Tennessee for Christ we must do it together.”

In addition to electing Greeneville pastor David Green as president, messengers chose two new vice presidents, approved a no-increase budget, entered into a partnership with the Germanic People Group Team of the International Mission Board and adopted resolutions affirming bivocational pastors and the dignity and worth of women.

The theme of the annual meeting was "WinTN." Messengers viewed five video testimonies on how God is at work winning people to Himself through the efforts of Tennessee Baptists. Messages from a variety of speakers also challenged Tennessee Baptists to win the state for Christ.

"I am hearing stories from all across Tennessee as people are coming to know Jesus," said Roc Collins, strategic objectives director for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. "God is at work in Tennessee.

"Our goal is to see people come to know Jesus, get baptized and then be sent out on the road to discipleship," said Collins, who moderated a panel discussion on evangelism and discipleship during the Tuesday afternoon session.

Election of officers

Green was nominated for the convention's presidency by a former TBC president, Danny Sinquefield, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett.

Tennessee Baptists, in their annual meeting at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, gather at the altar following the president’s address delivered by David Leavell, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Millington.
Photo by James Wilson
Noting that Green is in his 20th year as pastor at First Baptist, Sinquefield said the church "has tripled in size and scope of missions and ministry." Sinquefield also said First Baptist in Greeneville is a strong supporter of the Cooperative Program, giving 13 percent of its undesignated receipts through the missions and ministry channel of Southern Baptists in the state, nation and world.

Byron Edens, an educator and member of Clingan Ridge Baptist Church in Cleveland, was elected as the convention's vice president. Eden serves as vice president of Piedmont International University, the home of Tennessee Temple Seminary in Chattanooga. Lee Hickman, pastor of Black Oak Baptist Church in Clinton, was elected as second vice president. All three officers were unopposed.

Budget

Messengers overwhelmingly adopted a $34.5 million budget for 2018-2019, the same as the 2017-2018 budget. For the fiscal year that just concluded, Tennessee Baptists gave $34,604,572 through the Cooperative Program, an increase of 2.2 percent over the previous year and 0.30 percent over the budget goal.

In presenting the budget, Steve Marcum, chair of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board's Budget and Ministry Committee and minister of missions at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, acknowledged that while the goal is less than what was actually received, "the board feels that staying at this amount is a conservative and responsible approach, given the uncertainties of the economy."

Though the budget goal remains the same, the amount allocated to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program is increasing from 46.64 percent last year to 47.12 percent, an increase of 0.48 percentage points. In 2010, convention messengers adopted a recommendation to move toward a 50-50 distribution of CP funds with the SBC.

Marcum said the budget does not "freeze" or "reverse" the move toward equal distribution but it does "slow it a bit and is more consistent with our income growth."

Marcum added that the original recommendation to move toward 50-50 was to move in that direction "in a manner and over a time frame so as to enhance, not inhibit the ministry of the TBC as well as the SBC."

Partnership missions

During the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board report, messengers approved a five-year partnership with the International Mission Board's Germanic People Groups Team beginning in 2020.

Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, noted that the partnership will enable Tennessee Baptists to work alongside the five IMB teams that work throughout Germany and Austria. Approximately 83 million Germans have no relationship with an evangelical church, Davis said, and only 1.7 percent of Germans are Gospel-believing Christians.

In Tennessee, Davis and Art Groomes, church planting coordinator for the Mid-South Baptist Association, signed the City Reach Memphis partnership papers. Davis reminded messengers that the convention approved City Reach in 2016 to go to metropolitan areas of Tennessee to introduce people to the Gospel. City Reach Knoxville and Nashville are underway and City Reach Memphis begins in 2019.

Referred motion from 2017

Davis reported that in 2017 the board brought a motion to change the constitution in such a manner that would allow churches that financially support the work of the TBC to send messengers to the annual meeting, even if they may not support the ministries of the SBC.

"The board did some research on this matter, discussed it in committee at length and held several meetings across the state to hear from directors of missions the opinion of churches in their area. The result was that there remains significant confusion on the proposal and there is not a consensus among our pastors or churches," Davis said, adding that the matter will continue to be studied and reported back to the convention in 2019.

Resolutions

The resolution on bivocational pastors noted that 1,304 bivocational, part-time or volunteer pastors are currently serving in the TBC's 3,257 churches, church plants and missions, comprising 40 percent of all pastoral roles. The resolution stated that "these ministers steadfastly fulfill their God-given calling to the Lord's church in addition to the duties of non-church employment and family activities."

The resolution resolved that "we express our gratitude to these ministers and their families for their enormous contribution to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ."

The resolution affirming the dignity and worth of women noted that "the role of women is crucial in the local church, in providing wisdom, grace and exemplary commitment." The resolution noted that "while the Scriptures set apart men for the office of pastor as stated in the last line of the first paragraph of Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the Scriptures commend women and men alike in other roles of ministry and service (I Timothy 2:12, Titus 2:1-10)."

The adopted resolution was a substitute for the original resolution submitted by Kylan Mann, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Martin. His resolution was geared more to the affirmation of Article VI of the BF&M 2000. Mann said that while the resolution "was not the resolution that I turned in" he affirmed it as presented. He expressed concerns that there are some in leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention who "are now writing articles believing that women can now be teaching pastors and co- pastors under the headship of a senior pastor" which ignores I Timothy 2:12, he said.

"I believe that Tennessee Baptists need to be prepared to stand and to provide an alternative plan to our giving to express our disapproval of the doctrinal integrity of this move away from sound doctrine. I pray this never happens within the SBC, but may we continue to stand strong upon the inerrancy and infallibility of God's holy Word," Mann said.

Messengers also approved the traditional resolution of gratitude for everyone involved with the 2018 annual meeting.

Other matters

-- Davis announced to messengers that the TBMB is increasing its focus on stewardship, partnering with Ramsey Solutions to offer Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) at a reduced cost to Tennessee Baptist pastors and churches. Davis noted that 78 percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck and 69 percent of Americans struggle to cover a $1,000 emergency. "That is why only 12 percent of born-again Christians tithe," he said. With FPU, "families will learn how to stop the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and find hope. When your people are free from the chains of debt, they will also be able to be free to live and give as God directs," Davis said.

-- Messengers approved a recommendation from the Committee on Arrangements for Hollie Miller, pastor of Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville, to preach the convention sermon next year, with Fredrick Brabson, pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church in Knoxville, as the alternate.

-- Messengers heard updates on ministries from TBC and SBC entities.

The 2019 meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will be Nov. 17-20 at First Baptist Church, Concord, in Knoxville.

Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org).
Download Story