Board authorizes conference center renovations, additions at meeting
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
THOMPSON’S STATION — The directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board met April 27 for the first time since last fall when a joint in-person/virtual meeting was held at Thompson Station Church to vote on postponing the Summit.
Some TBMB directors chose the Zoom meeting option but a majority of the directors were present at Thompson Station Church for the meeting.
Social distancing was practiced to the greatest extent possible.
“We are so grateful to gather in person as Tennessee Baptists to do the work of the Kingdom,” said Glenn Metts, chair of the TBMB directors and pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, Seymour.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, agreed. “I am thrilled and I praise the Lord that we can be here together,” he said.
The directors heard numerous reports from Davis and other TBMB staff members and acted on several committee recommendations, including approval for the purchase of about 200 acres of land adjacent to Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center.
Board members heard a positive financial outlook, especially considering the pandemic which forced many churches to miss many in-person gatherings during 2020. Davis said the TBMB staff was prepared for a 20 to 40 percent decrease in Cooperative Program giving following COVID-19, but Tennessee Baptist churches gave faithfully and missed the budget by only 1.5 percent.
At the same time, Tennessee Baptists gave a record amount to the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, Davis said.
William Maxwell, administrative director, told board members that during his 27 years on staff that “we are in the best financial shape we’ve ever been in.”
Board members received updates on every aspect of the Five Objectives that are geared to annually seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by 2024; having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024; planning and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024; realizing an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024; and realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
Board members were unified as they approved nine recommendations from board committees. Most recommendations were approved by common consent or unanimously. No recommendation received more than two no votes or abstentions.
Recommendations adopted included:
• The TBMB Directors’ Organizational Manual was amended to change the name of the Properties Committee to Mission Support Committee to include responsibility for all areas of the Mission Support Group (Accounting, Human Resources, Technology) as well as property and facilities.
• A resolution was approved recognizing Mary McDonald for her faithful service to Tennessee Baptists upon her retirement as accompanist for the Tennessee Men’s Chorale since 1985.
• Amendments to the agreement between TBMB and Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union were adopted. The amendments clarified or updated terminology in the agreement which was created in 2003 to clarify various employment, operational and financial issues between TBMB and WMU.
Five recommendations were adopted which dealt with property and capital investments.
• Directors approved the sale of Baptist Collegiate Ministry property at UT-Health Science Center in Memphis for $450,000. Proceeds from the sale will be reserved in the BCM capital needs fund for use by TBMB in the ministry of Baptist Collegiate Ministries of Memphis as determined by the board of directors. Victoria Tillman, chair of the Collegiate Ministries Committee, noted that most of the work done by BCM specialist Benjie Shaw on that campus is done one on one with students where they are. “This is an amazing opportunity,” she said. “We can use the money to advance the ministry there.”
• Directors authorized the purchase of about 200 acres of land (northern tract, 80 acres; southern tract 120 acres) at a cost of $1,200 per acre or $240,000 for both tracts. Both properties will be purchased from the Conference Centers Capital Needs Fund or as determined by the Administrative Committee, according to information given to the directors.
• Directors approved the construction of an additional 35 hotel rooms at Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center in Newport under the following conditions: the total project cost will not exceed $4.7 million and the financial plan and debt is approved by the Administrative Committee prior to the start of construction. Once constructed the additional rooms are expected to increase revenues by $323,244, according to information supplied to the directors. A question was raised about starting construction when construction costs are climbing to an all-time high. Maxwell told the board the committee had looked at those issues. “If we get into it and can’t do it for $4.7 million, we might have to stop,” he acknowledged.
• The board authorized the concept of a five-phase cabin village complex at Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center for the eventual replacement of the existing Whippoorwill, Deer and Buffalo cabins. The directors also authorized the construction of Phase 1 of the project that will house approximately 60 individuals in bunk beds with sufficient meeting and function space that will allow for self-contained groups to sleep and meet in one building. The total cost of the Phase 1 project is to not exceed $600,000, according to information supplied to board members. In addition, the financial plan must be approved by the Administrative Committee prior to the start of construction and volunteer labor is to be used to the greatest extent possible.
• Directors voted to authorize the Administrative Committee to exercise the Board’s authority to do all things deemed necessary and appropriate to borrow a sum of money on behalf of TBMB not to exceed $6.2 million for a term of not more than 20 years and other terms and conditions required by the lending institution and agreed to by the Administrative Committee. The funds would be used for the two major construction projects approved for the conference centers and other potential capital expenses over the next five years.
Following the affirmative votes, Davis noted the directors “made decisions that were monumental.”
He expressed appreciation that the directors asked questions while expressing a spirit of unity while meeting in person for the first time in months. “This is an exciting day to be a Tennessee Baptist,” Davis said later, “and it was affirmed by our directors.” B&R