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Tenn. Baptists increase budget, OK partnerships

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Messengers to the 137th annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention adopted an increased budget for 2011-12 and approved two new partnerships Nov. 15-16 at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Messengers also said, through a resolution, they are opposed to a name change for the Southern Baptist Convention.

An update from the Vision 2021 Task Force was given, and messengers referred a motion concerning the teaching of evolution at Carson-Newman College to the Executive Board's education committee for further study.

This year's annual meeting drew 1,211 messengers from 500 churches, down slightly from last year.

Fred Shackelford, pastor of Springhill Baptist Church in Paris, was elected president of the convention without opposition. He was nominated by fellow Paris pastor Corey Cain of Maplewood Baptist Church, who said Shackelford "has a heart for missions and evangelism."

Shackelford served previously as the convention's vice president and is an Executive Board member. Springhill Baptist Church gives 9.5 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. At 34, Shackelford is one of the youngest pastors in recent years to be elected president of the convention.

Dean Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church in Morristown, was elected vice president. There were no other nominees. Haun served this past year as president of the Tennessee Baptist Pastors Conference and is a member of the Executive Board.

Josh Lancaster, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockwood, was elected second vice president. He, too, was unopposed and is a member of the Executive Board.

Two TBC staff members were reelected to their offices for the last time. Julie Heath, a member of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville, was reelected recording and statistical secretary. Dan Ferrell, a member of ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, was re-elected registration secretary.


Earlier, messengers approved on second reading a change to the constitution and bylaws that provides for the exclusion of the recording secretary and registration secretary from annual election. The convention's executive director will appoint individuals to serve in those offices in the future.

During the Executive Board report, Randy Davis, the executive director, noted that less than 30 years ago the average Tennessee Baptist church gave about 11 percent of the undesignated offerings it received through the Cooperative Program. The percentage now is 6.1 percent, which is up from 5.7 percent the previous year, Davis said.

Davis thanked messengers for helping the TBC complete the past budget year with an increase of $233,641 over the previous year. He also encouraged churches to accept the challenge to increase their CP giving by 1 percent of their budgets, a goal issued by Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.

Messengers adopted a CP budget of $36,750,000 for the coming year; the $250,000 increase is 0.7 percent over this year. The budget raises the amount forwarded to SBC missions and ministries to 40.25 percent, up from 40 percent last year. Messengers also approved a motion that any amount received in excess of the budget would be allocated 50 percent to the SBC and 50 percent to the TBC (with a prorate division based on the base budget).

Phillip Senn, a messenger from Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Troy, submitted a resolution titled "Resolution on SBC Presidential Task Force Considering a Name Change of the Southern Baptist Convention."


The resolution acknowledged SBC President Bryant Wright's appointment of a task force and said "it has been argued that keeping the name Southern Baptist Convention could cause harm to our missionary efforts worldwide."

The resolution noted that "messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention have repeatedly turned away such proposals" and that the SBC is "recognized worldwide as a convention of churches partnering together for 'One Sacred Effort, the Propagation of the Gospel.'"

Tennessee Baptists resolved to "support retaining the historic name 'Southern Baptist Convention' and oppose any change to such name."

Messengers also adopted resolutions affirming the teaching of biblical creation in Tennessee Baptist churches and institutions and issuing a call to prayer preceding the U.S. presidential election next November.

TBC messengers approved a partnership agreement with International Mission Board missionaries serving in Italy and another with Baptists in the greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, area.

Jack Kwok, executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, thanked Tennessee Baptists for entering the partnership with Ohio.

"It's a great joy that we enter into this partnership," Kwok, a former Tennessee Baptist pastor, said, adding that 11.5 million people live in Ohio and an estimated 6.7 million of them do not know Jesus Christ.

Charlie Worthy, a missionary in Italy, thanked Tennessee Baptists as well. "We are thrilled for the partnership," said Worthy, who is from Memphis and is a graduate of Union University in Jackson.


Both partnerships will begin Jan. 1, 2013, and continue through Dec. 31, 2017.

During the final session messengers discussed a motion by Bill Carden, a member of First Baptist Church in Tullahoma, who noted that the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, in its report to the SBC last year, asked state conventions to hold their colleges and universities "accountable to Baptist convictions and an authentic Christian worldview education." Cardin's motion called for the TBC to "affirm and accept this challenge of the SBC Great Commission Resurgence Task Force."

During discussion, Carden noted that since 2002, two Carson-Newman faculty members have offered lesson plans on evolution for high school biology teachers on a website not connected with the college. Messengers called for a study of the issue to be conducted by an Executive Board committee and reported by the Baptist and Reflector before next year's annual meeting.

A motion presented by Sam Nichols of First Baptist Church in Collierville, was referred to the Executive Board's budget and ministry committee for further study.

Nichols said the TBC matches retirement, life and disability insurance for ministers, staff and secretaries for a total budget expenditure of $1,388,000. Many people are unaware of the coverage and in some cases it is duplicated by churches, Nichols said.

Nichols asked for the budget and ministry committee "to determine how the plan can be modified to only provide protection benefit coverage for church staff members with less than 500 in membership and give at least 2 percent of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program."


In addition to business, messengers heard testimonies from church leaders who had seen people reached for Christ recently, and they heard reports from entities. Times of corporate prayer were scattered throughout the meeting.

Next year's annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will be Nov. 13-14 at Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett.

Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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