By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Last year, The Summit – The Gathering of Tennessee Baptists, which includes the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention – was canceled due to concerns created by COVID-19.
A year later, the pandemic is still with us, but perhaps, we have learned better to function within it. Some people still wear masks, some do not. Some folks have been fully vaccinated while others have chosen not to get the shots.
So far, for the most part, we can make the decision that best meets our needs and beliefs.
When we gather at Brentwood Baptist Church, beginning on Nov. 14 for the evening service typically billed as a Tennessee Baptist Reunion, I encourage us to be accepting of each other.
Some may wear masks; others will not. Allow each person to do what is best for him or her. We don’t know what health conditions others may have or whether they are being cautious to protect someone they love. We need to give each other the freedom that we want others to give us.
With that said, the annual meeting will give many Tennessee Baptists an opportunity to visit with old friends and perhaps make new ones.
A strong program has been planned for both the Tennessee Baptist Pastors’ Conference which meets on Nov. 15 and the annual meeting, slated for Nov. 16-17. Inspiring messages will be delivered from a host of speakers with updates from the staff of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and TBC entities.
The Sept. 15 issue of the B&R previewed the upcoming annual meeting. In that issue, Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, expressed his desire that Tennessee Baptists “will come to Brentwood in record numbers to celebrate what the Lord is doing in our state.”
While the pandemic shut down much of the world, it has not stopped God’s people in our Tennessee Baptist churches. Tennessee Baptists are still sharing the gospel and giving generously to support missions in our state and around the world. Churches across Tennessee are baptizing new believers each week.
If anything, more people heard about Jesus Christ because the pandemic forced churches to utilize technology that enabled them to reach people who never darkened the door of their church through technology such as Facebook Live and other online streaming services.
The Summit will provide opportunities to give God the praise for what He has done through Tennessee Baptists.
And, what would a gathering be without a business meeting? Tennessee Baptists will elect a new slate of officers. Kudos to outgoing officers Bruce Chesser (president), Chuck Groover (vice president) and Corey Cain (second vice president) who did an extra year due to COVID. In his role as president, Chesser was especially skilled in helping to steer the TBC ship through uncharted waters.
Tennessee Baptists also will consider changes to the Constitution and Bylaws which, if passed, will enable churches that choose to give to Tennessee Baptist causes only an opportunity to fully participate in state convention life and have messengers at the annual meeting. See the Sept. 29 issue of the Baptist and Reflector which printed a Question and Answer section about the proposed changes.
The proposed changes are not intended to diminish the Cooperative Program. Our convention leadership is clearly supportive of the Cooperative Program as the best way to support mission and ministry needs in Tennessee and around the world. The proposed changes simply allow churches to exercise their autonomy.
If possible, plan to attend the event in person at Brentwood Baptist or watch via online streaming at www.tnbaptist.org.
Our outgoing president (Chesser) said it well in the Sept. 15 issue. Summit is not only a time to celebrate what God has done, it also “is a time to recommit ourselves to taking the gospel to every corner of Tennessee and beyond.” B&R