By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Partnership missions in Tennessee is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
In recognition of what partnership missions has meant to Tennessee Baptists since that initial trip to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) in 1980, Tennessee Baptist History has devoted its Fall 2015 issue to partnership missions.
In addition, the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will feature partnerships during a special celebration banquet to be held on Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. at Crosspointe Baptist Church in Millington, about one mile from where The Summit is being held at First Baptist Church. See ad on page 6 for more information.
Tennessee Baptist History is the journal of the Tennessee Baptist Historical Society. The journal is published annually by the TBHS with the assistance of a grant provided by the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Jim Taulman, editor of the journal, observed that “partnership missions may seem like an unusual topic for a history journal, but it really isn’t.
“Part of our role as the history journal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention is to record the work of the convention. Partnership missions has been a significant part of the Tennessee Baptist Convention for many years,” Taulman wrote in the latest issue.
The issue contains articles from TBHS president Bill Mc-Kee, James Porch, former TBC executive director; Bart Gibbs, IMB missionary; Betty Wiseman, retired women’s basketball coach at Belmont University who led several missions trips to partner countries; Bobbie Dunn, longtime partnership missions volunteer; Charlie Worthy, current IMB missionary with TBC partner Italy; and others.
In his article, Gibbs shared how a one-month “adventure” to Upper Volta led to a full-time career as a Baptist missionary.
He noted that his one-month commitment stretched into six months. “I can honestly say that my volunteer experience on the Upper Volta Project clarified my calling to become a missionary,” Gibbs wrote.
Gibbs returned to the United States and later enrolled in seminary. In 1984 he learned that the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) had a job opening for a general evangelist to work with newly formed churches that were established as a result of the work of Tennessee Baptists in Upper Volta.
By that time political changes had occurred that led to the country being renamed Burkina Faso.
Gibbs and his wife, Jane Anne, were appointed to Burkina Faso and he returned to the country “to work with some of the same kids who had hauled rocks with me in 1981.” He is still serving as a missionary in West Africa.
Carroll Owen served on the staff of the TBC when the partnership began. Owen has read the latest copy of the journal. “As I read Bart’s (Gibbs) article I found myself reminiscing about some of my own involvement with the project and some of the people and things they shared out of their own experiences,” Owen said.
“What really thrilled me, though, was what he (Gibbs) shared about some lasting results and consequences of what our volunteers did there in five years a quarter of a century ago.”
For more information about the journal or TBHS, contact Taulman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-595-2597.