CORDOVA — Messengers to the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention — held during The Summit at Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova — veered away from tradition on Nov. 15 by electing Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington, to serve his second term as president of the TBC.
Hallmark ran unopposed and was re-elected by acclamation.
Joel Pigg, senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Trenton, was elected as vice president and Gene Nelson, senior pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville, was elected second vice president. Pigg and Nelson both ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation.
Since 1942, TBC presidents have generally served only one year on a rotating basis among the three grand regions of the state, although there have been two exceptions.
In 2010, TBC vice president Poly Rouse completed the term by then-president Randy C. Davis, who vacated the position after being elected president and executive director of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (now Tennessee Baptist Mission Board). Rouse, pastor of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage, was elected for his own term in November. The president that year was to come from Middle Tennessee.
The most recent exception was Bruce Chesser, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, who served consecutive terms in 2019 and 2020. After his election in 2019, he served a second year because the TBC did not hold an in-person gathering in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Chesser nominated Hallmark for a second term during Tuesday afternoon’s business session, noting that there is nothing in the TBC bylaws that stipulate against it. Chesser said the one-year terms are simply “ a tradition” that had been followed for many decades.
“(During my time as president), I saw the value of having a second year,” Chesser said.
Chesser said he had talked with several other past presidents, and they each agreed that it essentially takes a year to find a rhythm as president — and by then, the term is over.
“My hope is that today will be the start of a new tradition,” Chesser said when he nominated Hallmark.
Hallmark has led FBC, Lexington, to become the top-ranking GOTM-giving church in the state while also sending 12 percent of undesignated funds through the Cooperative Program.
After Hallmark was re-elected, Andy Mayfield of FBC Rutherford nominated Pigg for vice president. Mayfield noted that Pigg has led Salem Baptist through a season of great growth — transforming a church of less than 40 members into a congregation that now averages around 200 in attendance on Sundays.
Mayfield then added, “But the most important fact about Pastor Joel is that he loves Jesus.”
Todd Stinnett, pastor of Black Oak Heights in Knoxville, nominated Nelson for the position of second vice president.
Stinnett noted that Nelson was his Sunday School teacher when Stinnett was 11 years old. He said that Nelson poured into him and the other boys in that class, and said he was “eternally grateful” for the impact that Nelson had made on his life. B&R