By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

BRENTWOOD — Directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board met April 25 for their first official meeting since a name change last November.

Messengers to the Summit in Sevierville last November overwhelmingly voted to change the name of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

Mike Sams, chair of the TBMB, cited the historical aspect in his opening remarks. “We want to be a people on mission to seek and save the lost … to win Tennessee for Christ,” he observed.

“Our name reflects that and reminds us that we are a missional people,” added Sams, pastor of First Baptist Church, Martin.

During the meeting TBMB directors approved several changes to the bylaws reflecting the name change.

The TBMB also adopted a resolution establishing May 28 as a Day of Prayer for Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers. The resolution asks all churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to “pray specifically for the summer ministry at the conference centers.” A more comprehensive article on the day of prayer is scheduled for the May 17 issue of the Baptist and Reflector.

Board members heard reports from the standing committees of the TBMB, including updates on progress toward meeting the Five Objectives, the long-range plan for the TBMB adopted two years ago by convention messengers.

Though board members were informed baptisms have dipped during the last two years, steps are in place to reverse the trend.

Larry Robertson, pastor of Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville, and chair of the baptism objective committee, noted prayer outposts will be established across the state this year to encourage churches to pray for evangelism. “This is a spiritual battle,” he observed.

Roc Collins, strategic objectives director for the TBMB, reminded directors “there is no way to win Tennessee for Christ without the hand of God upon us.”

He noted that Tennessee can be won for Christ but it “won’t be with a new program. We need to be excited about reaching the lost for Christ and to be engaged with those who are lost,” he said.

During the TBC president’s report, Steve Freeman, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Springfield, reminded board members of his desire to see every Tennessee church baptize at least 17 people in 2017.

“If we meet that quest we will easily fulfill objective 1 of our Five Objectives which is to see at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship,” Freeman said.

“I believe it is imperative that we’re successful in that mission,” he added.

Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, reported that Cooperative Program giving is currently 2.5 percent above budget needs but is slightly below what was given during the same time frame last year. As a result, he noted next year’s budget probably will not reflect an increase.

The Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions is a different story, Davis said. “We have seen strong growth in GOTM giving.” After three successive years of 6 percent growth, GOTM receipts are just under 9 percent over what was given at the same time last year.

“The message is starting to be heard that Tennessee is a missions field,” Davis said.

“There is a pressing and shared passion of reaching the person across the street and the country as well as across the seas,” he added.

In other news related to the GOTM, it was announced that an anonymous gift of more than $1.5 million has been given to help endow the state missions offering.

TBMB directors also adopted a $1,925,000 goal for the 2017-18 GOTM offering, a 4.5 percent increase over the current goal of $1,850,000. The allocations include $105,000 for revitalizing churches; $677,000 for reaching the lost; $138,000 for reaching people groups in Tennessee; $335,000 for meeting human needs; and $378,500 for equipping future generations.

The TBMB leader reported that construction is progressing on the new Church Support Center in Franklin and that the building is scheduled to open May 22. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication is scheduled for Saturday, June 3.

Davis also recognized six members of the TBMB Communications Team (Chris Turner, Royce DeGrie, Connie Bushey, Mike Salva, Corinne Williams, and Lonnie Wilkey) for capturing 13 awards during the recent awards competition held by the Baptist Communicators Association. See separate story above.

Greg McCoy, president of Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and Anthony Burdick, director of pastoral care for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in Memphis, also gave ministry partner reports.

After the regularly scheduled meeting ended, the TBMB met in executive session for an undisclosed discussion.