Editor’s note: Tennessee Baptists who plan to nominate individuals for the offices of president, vice president and second vice president are encouraged to send their nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in an upcoming issue of the Baptist and Reflector prior to the Summit in November.
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
LEXINGTON — Tennessee Baptist Convention President Clay Hallmark has announced plans to seek a second term as convention president.
“It has been an honor to serve Tennessee Baptists. I am thankful for so many who have reached out to me about potentially serving the convention another year as president,” he said.
“I believe a second year will give us some consistency in some of the major things we are attempting as Tennessee Baptists. My goal would be to see that the resources and website being created by the TBC Sexual Abuse Task force are implemented,” continued Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, hosted a meeting of former convention presidents in May to seek their input on a number of items, including the possibility of the convention president serving a second term. He noted that he had heard from former presidents who believe a second term would be beneficial.
Since the early 1940s, Tennessee presidents have been elected to a one-year term on a rotating basis by the three grand regions of the state, Davis said.
He noted this has been done traditionally since that time.
The convention’s governing documents do not provide details for the election of a president other than they must be resident members of cooperating Baptist churches.
Bruce Chesser, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, and immediate past president of the TBC, informed the Baptist and Reflector on July 25 that he planned to nominate Hallmark for a second term.
“In 2019 I had the honor of being elected to serve as the president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. In early 2020 we were faced with COVID-19 and, because of all of the cancelations and postponements, it became necessary for me to serve a second term in that position. It was during the second year of service that I realized the importance of having two years of service, instead of just one,” Chesser said.
Chesser said he began talking with convention leadership about the question of having the option of our convention president serving for a second year if the messengers agreed. “A few months ago, many of the former presidents of the Tennessee Baptist Convention met together and we agreed that the second year would have many merits to it. From a personal perspective, I was just learning my way around the various entities and board meetings and the term of service was over. I found the second term to have much more continuity and opportunity for meaningful service to our denomination.”
Chesser also noted that there is no written guideline that the TBC president must come from a different grand division each year. “That is simply our tradition. I believe it is a good tradition. I believe that we should continue to rotate our convention president. But I also believe that it would be advantageous for an individual to have the opportunity, if they are willing, to serve a second term,” he continued.
For that reason, Chesser said he plans to nominate Hallmark for a second term at the Summit in November. “Dr. Hallmark has served us well over the past nine months and I believe he will finish well when we give him a second term.
The election of Hallmark would not prevent the next president (in 2023) from being from East Tennessee should messengers want to continue the current custom of rotating presidents among the three grand regions, he added. B&R