Past year’s biggest stories include record-breaking totals for Golden Offering, tireless work by DR teams
Baptist and Reflector
Tennessee Baptists gave $1,843,511.03 through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions for 2016-17, just barely falling short of the $1.85 million goal. It’s the largest amount in the 115-year history of the GOTM, reflecting a 7.6 percent increase over the previous year. GOTM offerings have increased more than 20 percent in four years.
Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers responded to at least eight different disasters during the year, the most in recent memory.
As last year began Tennessee Baptists were responding to flooding in Louisiana and the Gatlinburg fires. During the year, volunteers responded to three different hurricanes, working primarily in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Dominica. DR teams also responded to floods in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri. That doesn’t include responses to local disasters caused by storms and high winds by DR teams throughout Tennessee.
Dominica will continue to be a prime focus in 2018 as Tennessee Baptists plan to be there throughout the year on the island in the villages in the La Plaine area, helping to rebuild homes.
Phillip Hardee of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, will coordinate the year-long effort, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. To find out how your church can be involved in Dominica, contact Phillip Hardee at email@example.com.
Other major news in 2017
- A decision by former Tennessee Baptist Convention president Dean Haun to resign as a trustee of the International Mission Board also made national headlines. Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church, Morristown, resigned last January in protest of the IMB’s decision in 2016 to sign an amicus brief in support of a mosque to be built in New Jersey (the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission also signed the brief). In light of that decision the church chose to escrow its Cooperative Program giving, but continued to give funds to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board to support missions and ministries in Tennessee. In February, IMB President David Platt issued an apology to Southern Baptists for the agency’s involvement in the amicus brief. In November, FBC, Morristown, members voted on a plan which will give members a choice to continue to give through the regular Cooperative Program giving channel or a channel that will provide 50 percent to the TBMB and the remaining 50 percent to Samaritan’s Purse (Franklin Graham organization) and The Timothy Initiative (a worldwide church planting effort begun by a Southern Baptist). Haun told the Baptist and Reflector that the plan allows members, based on their own convictions, to decide “what to do with their missions dollars.”
- Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, became the first church in the Tennessee Baptist Convention to send $1 million through the Cooperative Program over a 12-month period (April 2016-March 2017).
- Trustees of Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City voted to incorporate the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as part of the university’s operating procedure. The agreement ensures the partnership of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board as the university fulfills its mission to help “students reach their full potential as educated citizens and worldwide servant-leaders.”
- Messengers to the 2017 Summit at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, voted overwhelmingly to uphold the Committee on Credentials decision to not seat messengers from First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, because a church with a woman pastor does not fit the definition of a “cooperating church” as defined by convention bylaws. FBC, Jefferson City, called Ellen Di Giosia as pastor, effective Aug. 1.
- Offices of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board moved from rented space in Brentwood to the new Church Support Center in Franklin. The facility was dedicated June 3.
- During the 2017 Youth Evangelism Conference in Nashville 712 teenagers made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In addition, 392 rededicated their lives and 210 teenagers indicated they felt God calling them to serve in missions and ministries.
- The number of ethnic churches in Tennessee nearly doubled to about 200 in just 18 months, according to William Burton, ethnic evangelism/church planting specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
- The Tennessee Baptist Mission Board received an anonymous gift of $1,575,000 to endow the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. The endowment is expected to generate an estimated $50,000 to $75,000 annually for the GOTM.
- During the 2016 Summit, messengers adopted City Reach, an effort to reach the five largest metropolitan areas in the state — Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Clarksville, and Chattanooga. The effort began in earnest in 2017 as Tennessee Baptists traveled to Knoxville to minister through City Reach Knoxville.
- Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes announced plans to streamline its residential care by moving to regional campuses and placing an increased emphasis on foster care. The number of residential facilities will decrease from five to three with campuses at The Ranch, Millington, Brentwood, and Chattanooga. The 75-acre campus in Bartlett will be sold while the Oakdale residence will be transitioned to a foster care home.
- In light of a church shooting in Nashville and one later in Texas, churches throughout the state put an increased emphasis on church security. Church security specialist Ken Alexandrow observed that hope and denial will not protect a church. “Every church needs a plan to protect its assets,” he said. For more information on church security, contact Mark Lemay, facilities/risk management specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The remains of Tidence Lane, the first pastor to serve in Tennessee, was moved from its previous location to the grounds of First Baptist Church, Whitesburg, which was formerly known as Bent Creek Baptist Church. Lane was the founding pastor of Bent Creek in 1785.
- Though the name of the former Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention was changed to Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in 2016, it did not officially take effect until Jan. 1, 2017. Contrary to what many people understand, the Tennessee Baptist Convention is still in existence as the network of churches which has an annual meeting in November of each year.
- David Leavell, pastor of First Baptist Church, Millington, was elected by acclamation as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention during The Summit held in November at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.
- Connie Bushey, who served on the staff of the Baptist and Reflector for 32 years, retired May 31. In addition, Archer Thorpe, who served on the staff of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for more than 27 years as a stewardship and leadership specialist, retired Dec. 31.
- Deaths of prominent Tennessee Baptists during the year included Ken Sparks, longtime Carson-Newman University football coach; Earl Wilson, retired president of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation; and Candy Phillips, retired executive director of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union.
The Hands and Feet of Jesus
In a year that was marked with devastation, Tennessee DR teams showed love and compassion again and again. Below is a “by-the-numbers” look at just a few of the ways that the Tennessee DR units made an impact:
Projects completed in Gatlinburg in 2017 after deadly wildfires besieged the area in late 2016. Projects included feeding, demolition, tree removal, and ash sifting and removal, among many more.
Work hours recorded in the United States and beyond.
Loads of laundry done for victims and team members.
Chain saw projects completed.
Gallons of water purified for drinking and other purposes
Meals prepared for victims and team members.
NOTE: Statistics provided by Tennessee DR and NAMB. Stats do not reflect projects and services that were not reported or were done locally.