By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Of all people, perhaps David Green is the least surprised at the way Randy C. Davis has led Tennessee Baptists for the past 10 years.
Green served as the chairman of the search committee charged with finding a successor to James Porch who was retiring as executive director in June of 2010.
Green remembers asking Davis, who had been elected TBC president in November, if he would submit a resume.
Davis said no when he was first asked, Green said.
The search went on and the committee was prepared to present its candidate when he dropped out at the last minute, recalled Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greeneville. “Our committee was at a loss. We didn’t know what to do.”
The committee had a scheduled meeting in Brentwood in conjunction with a board meeting, he recalled. During the meeting, Davis was presenting his president’s report. During that report, Green said he felt God providing him assurance that Davis would be the next executive director.
When the search committee met, Green asked if God had put anyone’s name on their heart. Everyone responded, “Randy Davis,” he said.
“We knew it was from God. I called Randy and asked if he would pray about submitting his name for consideration. He told me he would give me an answer in three days after praying about it,” Green recalled. Three days later, he called back and said he would allow his name to be considered. He later became the unanimous choice of the search committee and later the entire Executive Board in June of 2010 during a special called meeting.
Green is confident the Executive Board made the right choice.
“Randy has led the state convention with confidence, clarity and dependence on Christ,” Green said. “He has led by example.”
Green noted Davis is “down to earth” and communicates well with everyone. He also is intentional about soul winning, Green added. “That is one of the things that spoke to us the loudest about him when we were searching.”
Other Baptist leaders in the state agree with Green that Davis was indeed the right man for the position.
“Randy has been making strides in connecting people across Tennessee by sharing a recurring set of common goals (the Five Objectives),” said Rick Stevens, director of missions for Cumberland Baptist Association, based in Clarksville, and president of the DOM Fellowship.
“I have also seen him go to great lengths to minister to pastors who have experienced tragedy and loss. He cares about people and the local church,” Stevens said.
Union University President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver noted that it has been a joy to serve alongside Davis. “He is a faithful servant who cares deeply about and for the partner ministries of Tennessee Baptists,” he observed.
He does that by being knowledgeable, being present and being engaged, Oliver added. “Personally, his fervent prayer for Union and for me as its leader is a tremendous blessing.”
Martha Pitts, president of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union, observed that Davis “has united Tennessee Baptists because he serves like Jesus and listens to all.
“He gathers an amazing leadership team but makes sure everyone from Memphis to Mountain City gets his ear,” she added.
Dean Haun, a longtime friend and current pastor of one of Davis’ former pastorates (First Baptist Church, Morristown), observed that Davis “has a unique gift of bringing believers together from all traditions through encouragement, vision and to work for a common goal of reaching our state with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Haun also noted that Davis “has been the pastor of the entire Tennessee Baptist family. The statewide listening sessions he has held across the state proved that he desires to hear the heart of the pastors on the ground,” he added.
Poly Rouse, pastor of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, was serving as vice president of the convention with Davis when Davis accepted his new role. “From the beginning to date I have always seen the appointment of Randy Davis as a God-send to Tennessee Baptists,” Rouse said.
“I am grateful for our friendship and his daily commitment to God’s Word and partnership with every TBMB church across our state,” Rouse continued.
Bobby Welch was one of Davis’ first major hires in 2011 as associate executive director. Welch, now retired, observed that Davis’ greatest attributes are his love for the Lord, the Bible, his wife and family and his “deep, unwavering desire to do what is right that honors the Lord.”
Welch noted Davis has been effective in bringing Tennessee Baptists together. “He has been extraordinary, given the challenges of these times.”
Phyllis Bates served as Davis’ administrative assistant for nearly eight of his 10 years. “His quality of leadership and commitment to his position has been an inspiration to me,” she said.
“I watched him go morning and night across Tennessee preaching and speaking. He would always tell me if he could get from the morning appointment to a night appointment to make it. It didn’t matter the size of the church or location. He loves serving the Lord and Tennessee Baptists,” she said.
Haun did have one criticism of Davis. “He needs to quit saying ‘Roll Tide’ in my presence. It’s very offensive,” he said with a grin.