By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
It was so good to see you all.
I mentioned in a letter to our Tennessee Baptist Mission Board staff shortly after Summit 2021 ended that I thought that our convention was the best national or state convention I’ve attended in 45 years of ministry.
That’s a strong statement and I realize my perspective may be skewed by us not gathering for two years as the people and churches who make up the Tennessee Baptist Convention. But I believe we were ready to enjoy a spirit of unity and a dose of encouragement as we live in the sea of negativity around us.
However, I primarily believe God’s hand was on our gathering and graciously blessed our time together.
With a little space to reflect since the closing gavel dropped, here are some of my reflections on our annual meeting.
• The Tennessee Homecoming was amazing. That’s what we call the Sunday night service that kicks off Summit week and that we began in 2016 in Sevierville. Simultaneously, we also hosted an All Nations Worship with 30 language groups at a church across town. A total of between 1,800 and 2,000 Tennessee Baptists from many tribes, tongues and nations gathered to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. How can it not be a great week when it begins like that?
• The Pastors Conference led by President Corey Cain and President-elect Derek Smith was an incredible source of edification and encouragement. God used every preacher and every singer to bless our hearts. Pastor Ternae Jordan, a great pastor and a great friend, was elected the first African-American president of the Tennessee Baptist Pastors Conference.
• All TBC committees were busy behind the scenes providing excellent service to help Tennessee Baptist messengers enjoy the Summit and complete the work their churches sent them to do. I want to personally thank this vitally important group of volunteers from across the state. If you’ve never served on a TBC board or committee, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with us here at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board to find out how you can get involved.
• TBMB team and volunteer helpers worked tirelessly for months leading up to, and during, Summit. They were always at their posts. They ensured that what every messenger, guest, officer and committee member needed was provided in a timely manner with excellence. A million details were covered. And time after time, no matter how tired the team appeared, they exuded joy. I am so honored to serve Tennessee Baptists alongside such a wonderful team.
• It was a great showing of messengers. We had more than 900 messengers representing more than 500 Tennessee Baptist churches. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to literally see so many friends from Mountain City to Memphis. We worshiped, we laughed, and we remembered and mourned those no longer with us. We conducted Kingdom business respectfully and orderly while drinking in the great preaching of Willie McLaurin, Mike Glenn, and Bruce Chesser.
• The trifecta of President Bruce Chesser, and Vice Presidents Chuck Groover and Corey Cain provided exemplary convention leadership over the last two years. Dr. Chesser (or Pastor Bruce) is the first president to serve two full years since 1942 and was a constant source of encouragement and wisdom as we served churches during the pandemic. Dr. Chesser warmly moderated the TBC meeting with the fairness and respectfulness you’d expect of a Christian gentleman and servant-leader.
• The good people at Brentwood Baptist Church were incredible hosts. I’d like to personally thank my friend Mike Glenn and the great support and hospitality provided by his staff. They made Tennessee Baptists feel right at home during our four days occupying their campus.
• And a personal highlight was receiving the Peyton Manning jersey from Dave Howeth who heads up NAMB’s SEND Denver initiative. Tennessee Baptists and SEND Denver have been in missions partnership for several years now and it has been a pleasure to support this amazing group of church planters, four of whom have strong Tennessee Baptist ties.
Friends, I don’t know about you, but I needed to see you, and see us all together. I was reminded that we need each other, that Kingdom work was meant to be done cooperatively and in community, and that together God is blessing us to do a great work in Tennessee, across America and around the world.
It truly is a joy to be with you on this journey. B&R