By Lonnie Wilkey
FRANKLIN — The Committee on Arrangements of the Tennessee Baptist Convention unanimously recommends that the 2020 Summit, scheduled for Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood in November, “be postponed indefinitely” until next year.
The decision was made Aug. 20 during a Zoom meeting of the arrangements committee which also included TBC president Bruce Chesser, TBC vice presidents Chuck Groover and Corey Cain, and Clay Hallmark and Glenn Metts, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, along with TBMB staff members.
A special Zoom meeting of the TBMB board of directors has been called for Aug. 27 to consider the recommendation.
If approved by the TBMB directors, it would be the first time the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention has been postponed indefinitely (cancelled) in its 146-year history.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, explained that the recommendation was sent to the Committee on Arrangements after a meeting held Aug. 13 by convention officers, TBMB elected leadership, the chair of the Committee on Arrangements and TBMB administrative officers.
The decision to postpone the 2020 annual meeting of the convention and associated events and activities, commonly known as Summit: An Annual Gathering of Tennessee Baptists, was taken after consulting with medical experts.
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It was not an easy decision to make, Davis affirmed, “but it became apparent that we would be putting off the inevitable.”
Hallmark observed that convention leaders wanted to proceed with Summit because people are weary of seeing events cancelled. Yet, he added that leaders must make hard decisions that may not always be popular. “We cannot take the risk of people taking COVID-19 back to their churches,” he said.
Tiger Brooks, chair of the Committee on Arrangements, said he appreciated the unity shown during the Aug. 13 meeting as leaders considered the pros and cons of an in-person annual meeting and risk exposing messengers and guests to COVID-19. Middle Tennessee is considered one of the “hot spots” for the virus in the state.
“There is far more to lose in coming together in-person than in not coming together,” noted Brooks, associate and executive pastor of Indian Springs Baptist Church, Kingsport.
Chesser affirmed that postponing the annual meeting and Summit “is the most prudent course and safest decision” to make.
Davis called the vote taken by the Committee on Arrangements “a historic step.”
“Much thought and prayer has gone into this decision and I appreciate the seriousness with which those who serve on the committee considered this monumental decision,” Davis said.
“In the end, this comes down to considering the safety of messengers, guests and TBMB staff who would attend the Summit. Logistically, it would be extremely difficult to provide and maintain for several days the type of environment necessary to keep that many people safe,” Davis concluded.
If the recommendation is approved on Aug. 27, additional details and information will be released following the meeting of the TBMB directors.
— Chris Turner, director of communications for the TBMB, contributed to this report.