Tennessee Baptist Convention messengers adopted a $35 million budget for 2022–23, approved a constitutional amendment on second reading, renewed a missions partnership with Guatemala and dealt with a variety of resolutions among a myriad of business conducted Nov. 15–16 during their annual meeting at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova.
Messengers also received a final report from the Tennessee Baptist Sexual Abuse Task Force and received a resource entitled “Ministering Well: Best Practices and Resources Related to Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response.” The theme of the meeting was “Across the Streets, the States and the Seas.”
The convention drew 843 messengers and 104 visitors from 444 churches. Last year’s annual meeting at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, drew 943 messengers. The last annual meeting held in West Tennessee (2018, West Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson) drew 934 messengers).
In presenting the 2022–23 budget, Jeff Bowden, chair of the budget and ministry committee of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and associate pastor of education at Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, noted that Cooperative Program gifts began strongly last year but dropped off toward the end of the year.
The committee decided to recommend the same $35 million budget as the previous year with the same allocation percentages — 52.5% for TBC causes and 47.5% for SBC causes.
Acts 2:17 Initiative
The Acts 2:17 Initiative was officially launched during the Tuesday afternoon session (Nov. 15) of the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The initiative will provide Tennessee Baptists across the state the opportunity to speak into future priorities of the state convention.
Prior to the Summit, Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, wrote in a recent column that the initiative “could become the most consequential process in the TBC’s recent history and at its heart is us working together in seeking God’s preferable future for our network of churches.
“We want to understand what opportunities God wants us to seize together; what needs He wants us to meet across out state and hearing what dreams and visions He will speak through grassroots Tennessee Baptists.”
TBC President Clay Hallmark, who was re-elected to a second term, called the Acts 2:17 Initiative “a watershed mark in our history. We have been working and praying for this day,” he said.
Messengers veered from tradition by re-electing Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church Lexington, to serve a second term as TBC president.
Hallmark ran unopposed and was re-elected by acclamation.
Joel Pigg, senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Trenton, was elected as vice president and Gene Nelson, senior pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville, was elected second vice president. Pigg and Nelson both ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation.
Since 1942, TBC presidents have generally served only one year on a rotating basis among the three grand regions of the state, although there have been two exceptions. Hallmark ran unopposed and was re-elected by acclamation.
Tennessee Baptist messengers approved on second reading by a two-thirds majority an amendment to the constitution which allows a church giving to the TBC-only portion of the Cooperative Program to seat messengers at the annual meeting.
David Worley, chair of the committee on constitution and bylaws and pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church, Cedar Grove, reminded messengers that the amendment did not redefine the Cooperative Program. “It reaffirms the autonomy of the local church,” Worley said.
During discussion, Bartlett pastor Fred Shackelford of Ellendale Baptist Church expressed support of the amendment and noted that the change “better reflects Baptist polity,” but he encouraged Tennessee Baptists to remember that “cooperation is important. That is the heart of the Cooperative Program,” he said.
During the meeting, the TBC Sexual Abuse Task Force presented its report and introduced messengers to the booklet, “Ministering Well: Best Practices and Resources Related to Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response.” The task force was authorized by messengers during last year’s annual meeting and was appointed by TBC President Clay Hallmark.
Hallmark noted the task force was formed with the purpose of “being proactive in helping victims, churches and Baptist people deal with the hurt, pain and challenges of sexual abuse, allegations and harassment.”
In a letter included in the booklet, Hallmark added that the goal of the task force “is not to just resource Tennessee Baptists but to equip them.”
Messengers also approved resolutions on avowing opposition to casinos in Tennessee, sexual abuse, revival, biblical sexuality and gratitude.
The 2023 annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will be held Nov. 1-15 at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Lonnie Wilkey and David Dawson of Tennessee’s Baptist and Reflector.