FRANKLIN — Directors of Tennessee Baptist Mission Board adopted a record goal of $2.7 million for the 2023-24 Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions and approved seven other recommendations including a revision to the GOTM Process and Guidelines that would eliminate the following guideline: “GOTM funds are NOT provided for the salary of TBMB staff or Tennessee WMU staff.”
Tennessee Baptist leaders Clay Hallmark and Randy C. Davis each brought reports and challenges during the meeting held April 25 in Franklin.
Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington, observed that churches can be known for many things, ranging from possessions and personalities to programs and preaching. While those things have their place, churches need to be known as “houses of prayer,” he maintained.
“In a world that has been turned upside down and is crazy, we need to lead our churches to be houses of prayer. Prayer changes people.”
Hallmark noted prayer conferences will be held all across the state during the next two weeks and he challenged board members and all Tennessee Baptists to attend “Nothing great is going to happen in Tennessee or in the Southern Baptist Convention until God’s people pray,” he concluded.
Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, reminded the directors that “as a Great Commission ministry we will face challenges” in the days ahead. It is imperative to avoid “the devastating distractions that have the potential to derail our focus,” he said.
He encouraged Tennessee Baptists to take part in the Acts 2:17 Initiative and have input in determining the focus of the convention in the years ahead. “We will face every challenge as it comes, but we also will stay the course and we will serve our churches,” he affirmed.
During his report, Davis introduced Leah McLemore, whose husband, Eric, served as pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Milan, until his untimely death Feb. 17 at the age of 34. She shared about the stresses faced by ministers and their families and thanked Tennessee Baptists for their support over the past few months. See story on page 9.
Later, Davis introduced the board to pastor Pat Hood of LifePoint Baptist Church, Smyrna, who shared his testimony and information about the Amy Hood Adoption Endowment fund which was established earlier this year to provide funding for adoption expenses for Tennessee Baptist couples who desire to adopt children.
Amy Hood was a strong advocate for adoption, Davis said, noting that the Hoods adopted three international children after their children were grown.
Amy Hood died unexpectedly Oct. 30 of last year at the age of 57. See article “TBMB Establishes Amy Hood Adoption Endowment Fund” at baptistandreflector.org. Additional information on how people can apply for funds will be announced after guidelines are established and the corpus reaches a certain amount.
Board members were reminded that the GOTM goal is consistent with the Five Objectives goal of reaching $3 million in GOTM receipts by 2024-25.
James Griffith, chair of the resource development objective committee and member of the GOTM administrative team, noted that growth of the GOTM has outpaced CP giving in recent years. “This has put us in a situation where we are rapidly approaching having ministry funds available but insufficient funds for staff to conduct the ministries.”
Tennessee Baptists gave a record $2,227,367 to GOTM last year. The projected amount for this year is $2,250,000, according to Joe Lovell, chief financial officer for TBMB. The 2022-2023 GOTM goal is $2.4 million.
Lovell explained that while Cooperative Program income has been relatively flat for the past decade, Tennessee Baptists rank second among state conventions in CP giving through the Southern Baptist Convention.
Yet, if CP giving does not see a growth of at least 2.5 percent over the next few years, it will soon reach the point where CP is insufficient for the necessary personnel and mission support costs, Lovell said.
Board members were informed that GOTM funds used for personnel would only be in the compassion ministries and disaster relief areas.
TBMB director, Corey Cain, pastor of First Baptist Church, Seymour, said he was “not comfortable” with the recommendation. “I love GOTM. I don’t like the move to cover personnel,” he said, citing his fear that less money will be used for ministry.
“You are not alone in your discomfort with this move,” Davis acknowledged. “I never see a time coming when so many salaries will be paid by GOTM that it would diminish the funds used for ministry,” he said.
Griffith agreed that the committee “wrestled with those concerns.” He said the committee finally reached a “comfort level” with the decision. “Our greatest asset is our people. GOTM will support those who do those ministries,” he said.
An amendment was offered to limit salaries only for compassion ministries and disaster relief.
Directors debated the merits of the amendment. Concerns were expressed about moving from a Cooperative Program focus to an independent giving focus and that it would set a precedent that could be misused in the future. Support for the amendment centered on trust for the staff and flexibility for the future. The amendment failed overwhelmingly by a show of hands vote.
Directors then voted on the original recommendation and it passed by a 38-26 margin with two abstentions.
Church planting site property purchase process: Directors approved a recommendation to amend section II of the Directors’ Organizational Manual to allow for the purchase of property sites that are anticipated to be good locations for future church plants.
Board members were informed the need for the policy has grown out of the planning process for Tennessee Baptists’ response for the BlueOval City Project and the need for 40 new church plants over the next 10 years.
They also were informed that primary sources of funding for purchases will come from the Church Fund, the BlueOval City Fund, borrowing internally from the GOTM Reserve Fund or other funds that become available.
Auditor engagement: Board members authorized the TBMB president and executive director and the chief financial officer to negotiate and execute an agreement to provide auditing services for TBC institutions and TBMB for fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
TBMB Operations Manual: Approved the latest version of the manual which ratifies many of the sexual abuse prevention practices that TBMB has always practiced.
Church Lease: Approved a lease agreement to lease a church building from Hebron Cemetery Association, located within three miles of BlueOval City that can be used for a church plant or training center for the next 10 years. The agreement calls for investing approximately $50,000 in renovation costs and a $12,000 per year lease payment.
Special solicitation campaign for The King’s Academy: Approved a request from Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy (The King’s Academy) to raise funds to help the school reach the Maasai people of southern Kenya through the provision of Christ-centered secondary education at The King’s Academy. The special campaign will allow the school to solicit funds from TBC churches from May 2023 through April 2026 with the possibility of extending the campaign for another three years.
TBMB Special Services: Directors approved changing the name of the Mississippi River Ministry corporation to “TBMB Special Services” and the necessary changes associated with the action.
The next meeting of the TBMB directors is scheduled for Sept. 12. B&R