CHATTANOOGA — Messengers to the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention elected Jay Hardwick as president of the TBC on Wednesday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Hardwick, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church, was opposed by Todd Stinnett, pastor of Black Oak Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville. It was the first time in more than 15 years that the election included more than one candidate.
With ballots cast through secret ballot during Wednesday’s morning session, Hardwick received 309 votes (56.6 percent); Stinnett received 232. Two ballots were deemed illegal.
Hardwick was nominated by Corey Cain, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Seymour. “Jay is a humble servant with a heart to serve,” Cain said.
Hardwick, who became senior pastor of Forest Hills in December of 2020, currently serves as chairman of the Acts 2:17 Initiative Vision Team and is a trustee at Union University in Jackson.
Prior to moving to Tennessee, he served as associate executive director/chief strategist of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
A graduate of North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C., Hardwick earned his master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He currently is pursuing his doctor of ministry degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He and his wife, Lara Beth, have three daughters.
Stinnett was nominated by Dean Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church, Morristown. Haun said Stinnett has shown “a love for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board” and an “unwavering love for God’s Word.”
Clay Hallmark, outgoing president of the TBC and pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington, told messengers that having two candidates for president was not a sign of division but instead shows “the deep bench of leadership that we have in Tennessee.”
James Griffith, bivocational pastor of South Harriman Baptist Church, Harriman, was elected vice president of the convention. Griffith, who ran unopposed, was nominated by Victoria Tillman. “James believes in the cooperation of churches to fulfill God’s Great Commission,” Tillman said.
Griffith, who is a pharmacist, is a former director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Bivocational pastor Dannie Bell of Whitesburg was elected second vice president. Bell ran unopposed and was nominated by Keith Mowery, pastor of Buffalo Trail Baptist Church, Morristown. “(Bell) is the real deal,” said Mowery. “Many call him a friend — and he will call everyone in Tennessee a friend.”
Bell has served for 28 years as a bivocational pastor in East and Middle Tennessee. He recently resigned from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Nolachucky Baptist Association and is currently serving as a supply pastor for Bethel Baptist Church, Morristown. B&R