By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Messengers during the 2021 annual meeting in November at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood overwhelmingly approved a recommendation from the directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board that the new president of the convention appoint the task force.
The recommendation, as approved by messengers, reads:
“That the messengers to the 2021 annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, meeting at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, Tennessee, authorize the newly elected president to appoint a sexual abuse task force for the purpose of evaluating:
(1) The process of how the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) responds to allegations of sexual abuse occurring in churches and TBC entities and reported to the TBC;
(2) The process of how Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) seeks to protect those it serves from sexual abuse and responds to allegations growing out of TBMB ministries and events; and
(3) The resources and assistance provided by TBC and TBMB to cooperating churches to help educate church leaders on best practices to protect their congregants from the evil of sexual abuse.
The recommendation also calls for the task force to compile a report, including suggestions for improvements, for presentation to cooperating Tennessee Baptist churches no later than the 2022 annual meeting of the TBC in Cordova.
In fulfilling his assignment, Hallmark said he sought the recommendations of people from throughout every region of the state.
“My goal was to bring together a diverse group of people who had different levels of expertise both on sexual abuse and Baptist polity,” he said.
“I am thankful for the many recommendations and volunteers I received from throughout the state. After much prayer and consideration of this important task force, the following people have agreed to serve Tennessee Baptists on the Sexual Abuse Task Force.”
The committee will be chaired by Victoria Tillman. She is the current chair-elect of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. Tillman is an attorney with McKinney and Tillman, P.C. and a member of Bell’s Campground Baptist Church in Powell.
Other members are:
Chuck Cagle, an attorney at law at Lewis Thomason, P.C. in Nashville. His law firm helps public school districts across the state of Tennessee to write policies and deal with many legal issues such as sexual abuse. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Nashville.
Dani Bryson, assistant district attorney for the 23rd Judicial District. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Dickson, and a director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Sam Nichols, executive pastor of First Baptist Church, Collierville. He is an immediate past director of the TBMB.
Gary Chesney, a commercial insurance producer of the Price and Ramey Insurance group which helps churches create policies related to sexual misconduct. He also is the mayor of Morristown and a member of First Baptist Church, Morristown.
Ann Singleton, Title IX Coordinator and compliance officer for Union University where she also serves as the associate provost and dean for instruction. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Jackson; and
Kevin Shrum, pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville, and a former president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He is a former trustee at Union University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Hallmark requested for Tennessee Baptists to pray for the task force in the weeks and months ahead. B&R