By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Updated May 3, 2019
THOMPSON’S STATION — Directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board approved four recommendations and heard plans for a Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response Task Force during their meeting April 30 at Thompson Station Church in Thompson’s Station.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, announced plans for the task force during his report to the board of directors.
Though the issue of sexual abuse of children in Southern Baptist churches became widely known after articles were released by The Houston Chronicle in February, Davis said the TBMB has been assisting churches in taking steps to prevent sexual abuse for 20 years and will continue to do so.
“There is a great desire to make sure we are doing all we possibly can to serve our churches in this area,” he said.
The TBMB leader observed that “one instance of abuse on a minor” is one too many.
Davis said he plans to work with Greg McCoy, president of Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes “to fight the hellish and evil assault on any child and we desire to continue at this spiritual warfare with collaboration and cooperation and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
During his report later to TBMB directors, McCoy reiterated Davis’ desire to protect children throughout Tennessee. “We want to keep our kids safe,” he said.
Davis stressed that the TBMB and TBCH will do everything possible to “equip our churches in the protection of children.”
He announced the formation of a task force, to be chaired by Bill Choate of the TBMB staff and a member of Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, to work toward that goal of helping churches prevent sexual abuse in their congregations and to develop a response plan if it happens. (The list of members is at the end of this article.)
During his report, Davis also stressed the need to protect children in the womb as it relates to abortion. He reported that Tennessee legislators had considered a Fetal Heartbeat Bill that would greatly reduce the number of abortions in Tennessee if a heartbeat is detected.
The bill was sent to a study committee during the summer. Such action usually regarded as an attempt to kill the legislation, but one of the bill’s sponsors (Mike Bell of Riceville) told The Tennessean in April that his intent is to set a specific date for a hearing and to develop language to make the bill “stronger.”
Davis noted that earlier this year, 125 ministers signed a petition against the bill. He noted his desire is to get 1,000 pastors and “tens of thousands” of lay leaders across Tennessee to sign a petition in favor of the Fetal Heartbeat Bill. “We want to get this bill back to our legislators in the fall,” he said.
Davis observed issues like sexual abuse of children and abortion “will always be with us” and while it is appropriate to deal with those matters, it’s also imperative “to stay focused on Objective One (of the Five Objectives adopted in 2014 by messengers to the Tennessee Baptist Convention) and that is “to see the spiritually lost of Tennessee come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
He encouraged board members to “not drift from our mission. We cannot lose sight of our vision.”
TBMB directors approved a recommendation from the Committee on Boards to appoint Dennis Culbreth, director of missions for Hamilton County Baptist Association and member of Stuart Heights Baptist Church, Chattanooga, to fill a vacancy on the board of trustees of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation.
Directors also approved a recommendation from the TBMB’s Budget and Ministry Committee that “the board chair (Mike Kemper) and the TBC president (David Green) be requested to appoint a “Cooperative Program Allocation Task Force” with a charge “to examine the stewardship of investment of all missions dollars coming from our Tennessee Baptist churches and going to our Tennessee Baptist and Southern Baptist entities and return a recommendation to the Budget and Ministry at their spring meeting in 2020.” The recommendation was approved without opposition.
Directors approved two recommendations from the Administrative Committee. The first was simply an update to governing documents to reflect the name change from Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. The second recommendation authorized the purchase of property adjacent to the University of Tennessee, Martin, BCM property at a cost of $275,000 to be paid from the Contingency Reserve Fund.
TBMB directors also adopted a 2.1 million goal and budget for the 2019-20 Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. The budget includes Associational Ministries, $210,000; Evangelism Initiatives, $215,000; Leadership Development, $119,000; Compassion Ministries, $303,000; Disaster Relief Ministries, $93,000; Special Friends Camp, $100,000; Church Planting and Revitalization, $614,000; Preparing a New Generation, $346,000; and GOTM Promotion and Development, $100,000.
Also during the meeting, board members heard reports from TBC president David Green, TBMB committees, Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes, Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and Baptist Memorial Health Care System, Memphis.
|Bill Choate||Collegiate Ministries Director||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Kelly Campbell||Vice President, Family Care||Tennessee Baptist Childrens Home|
|Tiffany Bailey||Collegiate Missions Specialist||Tennesee Baptist Mission Board|
|Martha Espinoza||Ministry Assistant||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Rhonda Manor||Production Coordinator||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Wendy Johnston||Children’s Director||Chilhowee Hill Baptist Church|
|Bruce Chesser||Pastor||First Baptist Church Hendersonville|
|Eric Nichols||Pastor||Thompson Station Church – Columbia|
|Vicki Hulsey||Childhood Specialist||Tennesee Baptist Mission Board|
|Maria Burton||Author, Women’s Conference Speaker||Iglesia La Esperanza|
|William Maxwell||Administrative Director||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Willie McLaurin||Special Assistant to the Executive Director||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Benji Shaw||Baptist Collegiate Minister||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Jeralyn Collins||Preschool Director||Clearview Baptist Church|
|Sherry Fesmire||Director of Kids Ministry||Englewood Baptist Church|
|Bruce Edwards||Youth Specialist||Tennessee Baptist Mission Board|
|Joseph Stegall||Pastor||Providence Baptist Church|
|JayAnn Wetherington||Juvenile Clerk||Henry County Juvenile Court|