Despite pandemic, Hilldale Baptist surpasses budget, mission goals
By David Dawson
Those words, commonly heard at weddings, also describe the commitment displayed by the members of Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville, in 2020.
Amid all the devastating details of last year, including economic hardships brought on by the pandemic, Hilldale had a record setting year in giving. The church not only surpassed its overall budget, but also reached its goals for the Cooperative Program and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions.
“It’s easy to see that God did a miracle in our midst,” said pastor Larry Robertson. “I’m so proud of our church family for a job well done, and for their willingness to let God use them in this way.”
The church exceeded its $3.1 million budget by more than $73,000, in addition to designated giving. This display of generosity would be noteworthy for any year, but it was especially impressive during a year that featured so many adjustments.
The temporary suspension of corporate worship gatherings, for instance, resulted in a drop in giving at many churches in Tennessee and across the nation. It also raised the importance of giving in “non-traditional” formats.
“Fortunately, we were already using an online giving platform, so we didn’t have to create that from scratch,” said Robertson. “But we did promote online giving more than before, along with mail-in giving.”
Robertson noted that the church also made some adjustments — for safety reasons — to the manner in which the offering was collected during the months when cooperate worship was held.
“Since regathering in June, we haven’t passed an offering plate,” said Robertson. “We set up collection boxes, and people have used them without complaint.”
Due to the economic impact of the pandemic, many churches utilized the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a federally-funded business loan program that offered relief to many businesses and to certain nonprofit organizations, including qualifying churches. The loan could be used to cover payroll costs, rent, interest and utilities.
However, Hilldale Baptist Church elected to use other methods to meet its budget.
“Let me preface this by saying that I don’t criticize any churches who took the PPP loans, but we chose not to,” said Robertson. “Our members were giving so faithfully during quarantine that I didn’t want to mess up the miracle God was doing. I’m glad we made that decision.”
Robertson watched with amazement as the church responded to challenges of 2020 with boldness and courage each week.
“We gave more in 2020 than in the history of the church — and for that to happen during a global pandemic? Wow, it was incredible,” said Robertson.
In addition to the record-high totals, the church celebrated another victory with its budget, Robertson said.
“We also paid off our Family Life Center during the year to the tune of about a half a million dollars,” he said, “and we continued our missions giving. Again, I’m just so proud of our church family.”
Robertson said 2020 will certainly be remembered as a difficult and challenging year. But he said many positive occurrences also emerged during the course of this unprecedented time.
“The past year was a mixed bag of emotions,” he said. “Some of our people testify of the positive impact the extra time together had on their families during quarantine — a time that would have eluded them otherwise as it usually does. But on the other hand, some have struggled with loneliness and depression. So, we’ve seen both sides.”
Robertson said, above all else, 2020 demonstrated that while circumstances are continually changing, the goodness of God remains constant — as evidenced by those whose lives were forever changed by coming to know the Lord.
“While numbers are different than in past years, it’s been exciting to see new Christians being baptized and new members joining the church. And we’ve seen some who began their journey with us online,” said Robertson. “God is at work!” B&R