By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Elects new officers, approves Church Support Center design
BRENTWOOD — Members of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention approved for recommendation to the messengers of the TBC annual meeting a budget of $34,250,000 for 2015-16.
The dollar amount is the same as the 2014-15 budget but the percentage of the receipts that will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention will increase 1.83 percentage points, from 42.07% to 43.90%. This represents a dollar increase of $476,418 from $14,408,975 in the current budget to $14,885,393 in the proposed budget or a 3.3% increase in dollars. The budget must be adopted by messengers during The Summit Nov. 9-11 at First Baptist Church, Millington.
The Sept. 16 meeting was the first since the Executive Board reorganized its committee structure around the Five Objectives adopted by messengers at last year’s annual meeting held during The Summit at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood.
The Five Objectives are:
(1) Seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by 2024;
(2) Having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024;
(3) Planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024;
(4) Realizing an increase in local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024; and
(5) Realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
During his report Davis reviewed strategy for each of the Five Objectives with testimonies from TBC staff and board member Michael Crandall, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Dyersburg.
Executive Board members also approved the schematic design of the new Church Support Center “with the understanding that additional modifications to the design may occur as the design goes through the municipal approval process, pricing, and continued value engineering.”
Board members were provided an artist’s rendering of what the new facility will look like as well the proposed floor plans of the two-story building which will be built in the Berry Farms mixed use development located south of Franklin adjacent to I-65. Groundbreaking is slated for March 5, 2016 at 2 p.m. on site, with construction to begin soon afterward.
The cost of the new facility will be covered from the sale of the former Franklin Road property ($8.75 million) plus interest earned since the sale.
TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis said the desire was to have a building that denotes “wise stewardship and excellence at the same time. We think this building says that,” he observed.
Steve Freeman, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Springfield, was elected without opposition to serve as chair of the Executive Board for 2016. He was nominated by Larry Robertson, pastor of Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville.
Mike Sams, pastor of First Baptist Church, Martin, was chosen to serve as chair-elect for 2016, also without opposition. He will automatically then serve as chair in 2017. He was nominated by Jim Acree of First Baptist Church, Dyer.
Corey Cain, pastor of Maplewood Baptist Church, Paris, presented the report of the Conference Centers Strategy Planning Team.
The team was formed in 2013 to “study, research, and envision the future” of the conference centers.
The planning team reported they considered all options including selling one or both camps but concluded they should keep both sites.
The team presented eight recommendations designed to improve the financial condition of the conference centers. The primary goal is to maximize the annual supplement for operation and capital maintenance at $350,000 by the end of fiscal year 2020. The recommendations were adopted.
Board members learned the centers are on their way to that goal, with a savings of $150,000 in a year’s time through various cost cutting and savings measures.
Board members approved three recommendations from the Coordinated Convention Ministries Committee. The first is an East Asia Initiative Renewal with First Baptist Church, Clarksville and International Mission Board missionaries serving in East Asia for the purpose of strengthening medical missions currently being done by members of FBC.
The initiative with FBC was first approved in 2013, began in 2014, and will conclude on Dec. 31 of this year. The renewal will run from Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2017.
Board members approved a similar initiative (Harvest of Israel Missions Initiative) with First Baptist Church, Morristown, which is working with IMB missionaries for the purpose of strengthening human aid ministry currently being done by the Morristown congregation. The initiative will begin Jan. 1, 2017 and run through Dec. 31, 2018.
Gary Rickman, TBC strategic relationships director, shared with Board members that initiatives are basically “churches stepping out in faith to do something big. We’re coming alongside to help promote this ministry,” he said, noting that the initiatives do not receive Cooperative Program funding.
Because they are initiatives they do not need convention approval from messengers at The Summit, Rickman added.
The Executive Board did approve a new partnership with the Baptist Convention of New England and the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
Kim Margrave, volunteer missions specialist for the TBC, told Board members that Tennessee Baptists are currently in partnership with Send Cincinnati and the Greater Dayton area in Ohio. “The Ohio convention approached us in June and asked us to partner with them to help them transition from being a receiving state to a sending state,” she said.
The New England Convention is comprised of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Needs in New England include church starting and revitalization, campus ministry, and more. “There are a lot of things we can do,” Margrave shared with the Board.
The TBC will partner with and mentor the Ohio convention to do ministry in New England, she said.
The new partnership was approved without opposition and will begin Jan. 1, 2017 and last until Dec. 31, 2021, pending approval of TBC messengers in November.
TBC President Michael Ellis delivered a devotional and shared his president’s report with Board members. “We can accomplish our goals together,” Ellis observed.
“We have a strong convention and I am so grateful to be part of a convention that’s doing what I believe Christ has called us to do,” he added.
Board members also heard reports and updates from Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy, Union University, Carson-Newman University, and the Tennessee Baptist Foundation.