If approved by messengers during the annual meeting at The Summit in Chattanooga in November, it will be the fourth consecutive year the budget has stayed at $35 million.
The budget allocation will remain the same: 52.5 percent for Tennessee Baptist Convention ministries and 47.5 percent for the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Budget and Ministry Committee informed the directors during their Sept. 12 meeting of four financial pressures that are impacting the budget: a decade of flat Cooperative Program receipts, the buying power of CP dollars has decreased nearly 20 percent over the same time frame, wage inflation (the TBMB wage scale is 18.7 percent behind the national average) and a move to equal distribution of CP receipts with the SBC.
The budget does include a 5 percent raise for staff raises, but it still leaves the staff 13 percent behind the national average.
In addition, the TBMB staff has been reduced from 135 full-time positions in 1989 to 90.95 full-time equivalent positions today, according to information provided to the directors. Three-and-one-third positions were eliminated from the 2023 budget and two-and-a-half positions from the 2024 budget. Two other positions are on hold, according to the Budget and Ministry Committee.
“We were hopeful the budget could go up, but the dollars just are not there,” said Marty Comer, chairman of the committee and pastor of Sand Ridge Baptist Church, Lexington.
“We need to be prayerful about our stewardship,” he added.
During the meeting, the board elected Fred Shackelford, pastor of Ellendale Baptist Church, Bartlett, as chair-elect with no opposition. He was nominated by Corey Cain, pastor of First Baptist Church, Seymour. Cain described Shackelford, a former TBC president as “a faithful disciple who loves Jesus.”
Current chair-elect Jeff Bowden, associate pastor of education at Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, will become the chair following The Summit as current chair Victoria Tillman, a member of Bells Campground Baptist Church, Powell, steps down.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, noted exciting days are ahead for the convention and cited the “big rocks” the convention will focus on, including the 150th anniversary of the convention in 2024 along with a celebration of the Five Objectives, the convention’s strategic plan that was established in 2014, and a transition to the Acts 2:17 Initiative, an effort to discover God’s priorities for the convention in the future.
Jay Hardwick, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist and chair of the Acts 2:17 Initiative Committee, provided a brief update on the committee’s progress.
He noted that more than 11 months ago, “God brought together a diverse team with a shared desire to seek God’s vision for the future of our family of churches.
“After statewide listening sessions and a survey that allowed us to hear from more than 1,000 Tennessee Baptists, hours and hours spent praying and pouring over what we heard, and wrestling through the implications, I am thrilled to say God is giving us a shared vision for the future of our cooperative work in and from Tennessee,” he said.
“Our plan is to bring this shared vision for the future to be prayerfully considered and adopted by our Tennessee Baptist family at the Summit this year, that we might be unified and propelled into the 2030s and into God’s preferable future for Tennessee Baptists,” Hardwick added.
Regarding the Five Objectives, Davis said “we want to celebrate what we have accomplished” while also wanting to “finish well.”
Another “big rock” for Tennessee Baptists is related to Blue Oval City, the new Ford plant being constructed near Stanton that will bring a population boom to the area over the next decade.
“Blue Oval City is a unique opportunity and is something that Tennessee Baptists can rally around,” Davis said.
Board members approved several recommendations in addition to the budget. Among them:
• A recommendation from the New Churches Objective Committee that the TBMB board of directors request that Carson-Newman University and Union University consider the addition of a church planting course to their Schools of Theology and Missions.
• A recommendation from the Collegiate Ministries Committee that the directors authorize the creation of a subsidiary corporation known as the Baptist Collegiate Ministries of Clarksville along with related recommendations for the formation of the corporation.
According to background information given to board members, the BCM subsidiaries were created between 1997-2011 to enhance local “ownership” of campus ministries.
The subsidiaries are led by a board of directors, comprised primarily of leaders from local Baptist churches and elected by the TBMB Collegiate Ministries Committee. Prior to board approval at the meeting, the Austin Peay BCM was the only campus ministry with a facility and TBMB staff not to be connected to a local board.
• Approved an amendment to the TBMB Directors’ Organizational Manual; to include the establishment of the TBMB Amy Hood Adoption Endowment Fund Advisory Body which will be responsible for administering the fund, establishing criteria, reviewing applications and recommending grant distributions.
• Approved a recommendation that the Tennessee Hunger Fund be amended so that effective Nov. 1, 2023, all designations to the Global Hunger Fund be allocated as follows: 50 percent to Tennessee Hunger Fund and 50 percent to International Mission Board — Send Relief. The previous allocation was 25 percent to Tennessee Hunger Fund, 65 percent to IMB and 10 percent to the North American Mission Board.
According to information given to the directors, the TBMB has been able to meet only about 41 percent of the requests coming from Tennessee Baptist hunger ministries due to a lack of funds. Approximately one in eight people in Tennessee face hunger, according to the latest GOTM statistical information.
Board members also heard reports from TBC President Clay Hallmark and TBC entity heads Charles Fowler, Carson-Newman University; Jeremy Sandefur, Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy; Bill Gruenewald, Tennessee Baptist Foundation; and Dub Oliver, Union University. B&R