By Lonnie Wilkey
For nearly 20 years, Judson Baptist Association, Stewart Baptist Association and Truett Baptist Association have been linked together by sharing one director of missions.
William Gray served all three associations as DOM until two years ago when he stepped down to become pastor of Bear Spring Baptist Church in Dover.
Joe Shannon, a pastor who had been serving as Gray’s associate, was elected director of missions.
He is pleased that leadership in the three former associations felt led to form JST Baptist Association. The change officially took place Jan. 1.
Shannon noted that leadership in Judson initiated conversations with Truett Baptist leaders about joining together. Truett suggested they include Stewart Association in the conversation.
Because the associations were linked together, they already had an advisory committee comprised of representatives of all three associations in place, Shannon said. The advisory committee studied the matter and made recommendations to each of the association’s executive boards. Each association approved the merger at their respective meetings.
The new association is comprised of 51 churches in eight Tennessee counties (Stewart, Houston, Montgomery, Humphreys, Hickman, Dickson, Benton and Williamson). One of the churches is located in Cadiz, Ky., just across the state line, Shannon said.
“It’s a lot of ground to cover,” he acknowledged, but he noted it will be easier because they can now have one meeting instead of three.
The association will have two offices, one in Dover and the other in Bon Aqua. Shannon will split his time between the two locations.
The three associations had joined together in the past for mission opportunities and that will continue to be the case, the DOM said. “We plan to have mission opportunities locally, across the state, nationally and internationally that our churches can partner in,” he added.
Shannon observed that the churches’ love for missions drew them together, regardless of the association they were located in.
His goal is simple as he begins leading one association in 2019.
“I would like to see our churches partner together for the furtherance of the gospel in their respective communities.” B&R