By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — The board of directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board have approved expanding the definition of a cooperating Baptist church to include those churches that give through the Tennessee Baptist Convention portion of the Cooperative Program budget without restriction or designation.
The action was one of several recommendations adopted by the TBMB directors during their meeting Sept. 12 in Franklin.
In addition, Mike Kemper of Jackson and interim pastor of Smyrna Baptist Church, Humboldt, was chosen without opposition as chair-elect for 2019. He will follow Cal Hampton of Clarksville who will serve in 2018, following current chair Mike Sams of Martin whose term ends with the November meeting of the board.
Steve Marcum, chair of the budget and ministry committee said the purpose of the recommendation is to include churches that support the TBC but not all Southern Baptist Convention ministries. As it stands now, contributions that bypass either the SBC or TBC are counted as designated gifts, not Cooperative Program giving.
According to background information given to the board members, “several churches across the state have expressed frustration with actions and activities occurring on the Southern Baptist Convention level. Some of them wish to direct gifts around specific SBC institutions but desire to continue full support of activities at the Tennessee Baptist Convention level.”
TBMB leaders emphasized that it is not a new designation and that they are not redefining the Cooperative Program.
“The Cooperative Program is our primary method for funding missions and ministries in both Tennessee and around the globe,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB. “Promoting the Cooperative Program through our regular giving channels will be our priority, but we also honor the autonomy of the local church.”
Board members passed the recommendation with a few dissenting votes. It must be approved by a two-thirds majority of messengers during the annual meeting held during Summit, scheduled for Nov. 12-15 at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.
The board also adopted a Cooperative Program budget goal for 2017-18 of $34,500,000 with $700,000 allocated to Cooperative Program administration and promotion with the remainder allocated as follows: SBC, 46.64 percent; TBMB, 30.50 percent; Carson-Newman University, 5.55 percent; Union University, 5.5 percent; Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy, 1.01 percent; Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes, 0.85 percent; Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, 4.35 percent; Tennessee Baptist Foundation, 0.50 percent; and convention operations, 5.05 percent.
Marcum said the budget is $500,000 under the present budget goal of $35 million. There has been a downward trend in Cooperative Program giving over the past 10 months, he told board members.
He noted that maintaining the current budget “is too aggressive in light of present giving. This is still a step of faith on our part,” Marcum said.
Marcum informed board members that the percentage allocated for SBC causes is a half-step removed from the 47.75 percent that originally was planned due to the downturn in CP giving from churches. “We felt this was too aggressive and would put an unfair hardship on our partner organizations.”
The 50-50 planned distribution of Cooperative Program funds between the TBC and SBC will be delayed but it is still moving forward, he added.
The budget will require the adoption of messengers at the annual meeting.
- Board members approved renewing the partnership with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio in the area of Greater Cincinnati/Dayton and to expand the partnership to include western Ohio beginning Jan. 1, 2018 and concluding Dec. 31, 2020. The recommendation will require adoption by messengers to the annual meeting.
- Board members adopted a Tennessee Hunger Fund Policy in response to a request from the North American Mission Board. Previously, the state convention collected funds from churches for Global Hunger Relief (formerly World Hunger Fund) and sent 80 percent to the International Mission Board and 20 percent to the North American Mission Board. NAMB would then send money back to Tennessee to use for hunger needs. NAMB asked southern states to keep money for ministries in their state before sending the remaining funds to the IMB and NAMB. Under the new policy, 25 percent of the offering will be used for the Tennessee Hunger Fund with 65 percent going to the IMB and 10 percent to NAMB.
- Board members adopted a Disaster Relief Non-Credential (NCV) Policy that will allow for non-credentialed volunteers to serve on DR teams. All volunteers, however, will have to undergo safety and situational training on site. According to background information given to board members, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief “has primarily and almost exclusively used only trained and credentialed volunteers during disaster relief responses. In recent years, some national partners have encouraged the use of “spontaneous untrained volunteers” that show up during a response. Also, some churches involved in TBDR have expressed a desire to involve non-credentialed members and even prospects in the ministry.”
- Board members approved the adoption of the third Sunday in May as the Annual Day of Prayer for Baptist Conference Centers.