By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — The directors of Tennessee Baptist Mission Board approved a budget goal of $2.4 million for the 2022-23 Golden Offering for Tennessee during their April 26 meeting in Brentwood.
The action comes on the heels of news that with about four months to go in the current GOTM year, a record amount ($1,976,260 as of late April) already has been given and is expected to exceed the $2.1 million goal later this summer.
The budget includes funds for the TBMB’s baptism, church revitalization and new churches objectives, as well as funds for GOTM promotion, associational services, compassion ministries, disaster relief, Woman’s Missionary Union and the Collegiate Ministries Group.
Tennessee WMU President Yolanda Heuser, a board member from Lantana Road Baptist Church, Crossville, reminded directors that “we know that Tennessee needs Jesus and that the missions support provided by GOTM funds is vital.”
Board members were given their first update from the Sexual Abuse Task Force which was authorized by messengers to the 2021 annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention which was held at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood.
The eight-member team was appointed by newly-elected president Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington. See list of members in this issue.
The task force was assigned to evaluate:
• The process of how the Tennessee Baptist Convention responds to allegations of sexual abuse occurring in churches and TBC entities and reported to the TBC.
• The process of how Tennessee Baptist Mission Board seeks to protect those it serves from sexual abuse and responds to allegations growing out of TBMB ministries and events; and
• The resources and assistance provided by TBC and TBMB to cooperating churches on best practices to protect their congregations from the evil of sexual abuse.
The recommendation from messengers also called for the task force to “compile a report, including suggestions for improvements, for presentation to cooperating TBC churches no later than the 2022 annual meeting in Cordova.”
Victoria Tillman, an attorney and member of Bells Campground Baptist Church, Knoxville, shared what the group has done since its first meeting on Feb. 22 and will continue to do until the final report is presented.
The task force wants to “equip our churches to keep sexual abuse from happening,” Tillman stressed. See preliminary report in the May 25 issue.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of TBMB, along with various staff members provided updates on various ministries.
Ukrainian crisis. Davis noted Tennessee Baptists “have been a source of hope and encouragement” to the Ukrainians. To date, Tennessee Baptists have given about $250,000 toward relief efforts, he said. Due to disaster relief responses in place with the North American Mission Board, it will be a while before Tennessee Baptists will be needed on site. “It will be a long-term response. We will have our turn.”
A significant year. In 2024, the Tennessee Baptist Convention will celebrate its 150th anniversary in Murfreesboro, where the first annual meeting was held. The celebration will be held during Summit, which is scheduled for the week of Nov. 10, 2024. Davis announced that James Porch, former executive director, will serve as honorary chairman of the celebration.
“The year 2024 also marks the conclusion of the Five Objectives initiative launched in 2014,” he continued. “Great movements such as Guidestone Financial Resources (which began in Nashville), our educational institutions, compassion ministries such as the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home and Baptist Memorial Healthcare, headquartered in Memphis, all began when a few Baptists had the opportunity to dream together to meet current needs,” Davis observed.
“A call to prayer in seeking the perfect will of God, gathering demographic information about the current and projected population of Tennessee and providing multiple venues for grassroot Tennessee Baptists to identify needs and opportunities for missions and ministry will be components in envisioning our post-2024 work,” he added.
Blue Oval City. In September of 2021, Ford Motor Company, along with SK Innovations of Korea, announced plans to construct Blue Oval City, a $5.6 billion project to produce electric trucks and electric batteries at the 4,100-acre site in Stanton (Haywood County), formerly known as the Memphis Regional Megasite.
It will be the largest automobile manufacturing plant in the nation, according to projections. The project is expected to create 6,000 new jobs at the plant with another 2,000-3,000 jobs in various support plants/industries that will be located in the region.
In addition, staff member Danny Sinquefield reported on efforts that are being made to help prepare Baptists in West Tennessee to prepare to minister to the thousands of people who will be moving to West Tennessee in the near future. “God is at work,” he noted.
Board members were given an update on the Baptist conference centers at Linden and Newport. See story in this issue.
In other actions, board members heard a variety of reports from TBMB committees and TBC entity leaders. They also adopted three recommendations related to TBMB governing documents and ministries.
The next meeting of the board will be held Sept. 13. B&R