Five Objectives progress, anniversaries top news of 2018
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Statistics indicating that the convention-adopted Five Objectives are having an impact in Tennessee, along with significant anniversaries of Tennessee Baptist Mission Board ministries, were among the top stories in the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 2018.
In addition, two TBC entities underwent changes in leadership in 2018.-
Baptisms in 2017 increased by slightly more than 2 percent over the previous year, according to the 2017 Annual Church Profile. Baptism numbers for 2018 are still being collected from ACP reports.
In addition, Tennessee Baptists met the annual Cooperative Program budget for the second time in three years for 2017-18. Cooperative Program receipts were $745,213 or 2.2 percent over the previous year. The $3,123,108 given by Tennessee Baptist churches also was $104,572 or 0.30 percent above budget needs for the year.
As to the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, Tennessee followed a record-setting year ($1,843.511.03) in 2016-17 with the second highest total ever given through the GOTM — $1,797,423.72. The second highest amount also came during a multi-hurricane season in which Tennessee Baptists gave more than $1 million to disaster relief efforts in addition to the GOTM gifts.
Two TBMB ministries reached significant milestones in 2018.
The Youth Evangelism Conference celebrated its 50th anniversary during the annual event held March 9-10 at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. In addition to last year’s venue, the conference has also met at Belmont University, Vanderbilt University, Opryland and the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.
Though the conference has had a myriad of speakers over the past 50 years, the YEC always has focused on sharing the gospel with Tennessee teenagers, YEC officials agree.
For the first time in 20 years, the 2019 YEC will have a new conference coordinator. Last year Kent Shingleton, who planned and led the conference for 20 years, passed the torch to Jay Barbier, TBMB evangelism events specialist.
Barbier said his prayer is that the conference will continue to be a vibrant force that leads to lives being changed for many years to come.
In July, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers gathered at the Missions Mobilization Center in Mount Juliet to celebrate 40 years of DR ministry in the state. Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the TBMB, noted that Tennessee Baptists have responded in “a united, cooperative manner” for 40 years to disaster ranging from earthquakes to tsunamis, from flood to fires, from tornados to ice storms and terrorist attacks.
Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief “is built upon people loving God and loving their fellow man,” Jones observed.
In July, Walter Grubb stepped down as president of The King’s Academy (Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy) after serving with the institution for 31 years, including the last 24 as president/headmaster. During his tenure as president the academy saw significant improvements in enrollment and campus facilities.
Earlier in the month, trustees of TKA elected Michael Mercer, headmaster of First Baptist Academy in Powell, as Grubb’s predecessor and eighth president of the academy.
In July, Randall O’Brien announced that he would retire Dec. 31 as the 22nd president of Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, a position he has held since 2008.
Prior to his election as C-N president, O’Brien served as executive vice president and provost of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Paul Percy, executive vice president and provost at Carson-Newman, will serve as interim president.
Other top stories
- Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief began a year-long effort in Dominica to help residents there recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria which struck the island in September of 2017. Numerous teams went to Dominica during the year to help residents replace roofs on their homes. Months after the hurricane, many residents still were without electricity in some areas of the country. Phillip Hardee of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, coordinated volunteer teams. “The damage was unbelievable,” he observed. Relief efforts in Dominica are expected to continue in 2019.
- Longtime TBMB staff member Paul Clark died Dec. 24 after a long illness. Clark was director of worship and music ministries for the TBMB. He suffered a stroke in November of 2015, just after the annual Summit. Clark directed both the Tennessee Men’s Chorale and the Tennessee Ladies Chorus. He was nationally known throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, having served as president of the Southern Baptist Church Music Conference in 2007. In 2017, Clark received the organization’s W. Hines Sims Award for leadership in church music. See column by Todd Brady on page 5.
- City Reach, an effort to impact the five major metropolitan areas of Tennessee expanded from Knoxville to Nashville in 2018. City Reach Knoxville began in 2017 and ended in December. City Reach Nashville will continue through the end of this year. City Reach Memphis will begin this year for 2019-20, followed by Chattanooga in 2020-21 and Clarksville in 2021-22.
Eighteen months after their church buildings were destroyed by the Gatlinburg fires in November of 2016, Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg dedicated its new sanctuary and youth/building fellowship hall on May 6.
- David Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greeneville, was elected president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention during the annual Summit held at West Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson.
- Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, completed his second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention in June.
- Tennessee native Paul Chitwood of Jellico, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, was elected unanimously to serve as president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, succeeding David Platt who announced he was returning to the pastorate earlier in the year.
- Tennessee Baptists joined others in speaking out on domestic violence after comments made by former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson surfaced in early 2018. Among Tennessee Baptists urging churches to speak out against domestic violence was Randy C. Davis, TBMB; Tony Rankin, a clinical therapist and minister of pastoral care at First Baptist Church, Nashville; Donna Gaines, wife of Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova and former SBC president; and Art Webb, a Christian counselor with Watauga Baptist Association, based in Elizabethton.
- During the 25th All Nations Camp held at Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center May 28-June 1, 156 international students made first-time salvation decisions. The camp drew a record 438 campers and staff.
- Tennessee Baptists joined the effort other state conventions have been involved in since 2001 to provide Christmas backpacks for needy children in Appalachia. Tennessee Baptists provided 3,344 backpacks in their first year of involvement with the ministry, according to Joe Sorah, compassion ministries specialist for the TBMB.
- Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief received two $200,000 grants from an anonymous source for relief efforts to help hurricane victims in North Carolina and Florida.
- Longtime TBMB staff member Tim Bearden retired Dec. 31 after 22 years on staff. Bearden served in a variety of roles, most recently as senior manager of the two Tennessee Baptist conference centers — Linden Valley in Linden and Carson Springs in Newport.