By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Though the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s official partnership with the Guatemala Baptist Convention does not take place until next year, it is off to a good start.
A team of 22 Tennessee Baptist volunteers traveled to Guatemala in early May to participate in the Guatemala convention’s Sixth Annual Leadership Summit.
Tennessee Baptists are no strangers to Guatemalan Baptists, said Garry Eudy, who will serve as field coordinator for the partnership.
He noted that a team of Tennessee Baptists taught the TBC “More Life” evangelism approach two years ago and last year a team taught the 1-5-1 Harvest Plants approach. Harvest Plants are off campus efforts (outside the walls of the church) geared toward people who don’t know Christ as their Savior for the purpose of sharing the gospel, discipling people, and starting churches.
“This year, in light of the coming partnership, the goal was to introduce as many TBC pastors to as many GBC pastors as possible,” Eudy said.
Eudy noted that the Summit was “decentralized” this year and was held in five different locations around the country for maximum impact. “Instead of four or five teachers, we had 22. And instead of 120 attendees we had around 325-350,” he shared.
Eudy said more question and answer sessions were built into the program than in previous years. “I think it helped the Guatemalan and Tennessee pastors get to know and appreciate one another. Many from both camps testified that they really identified with each other because they discovered that they are facing the same things and issues in their churches,” he said.
The Tennessee pastors also had the opportunity to preach in Guatemalan Baptist churches around the country and to visit other churches.
“This gave them the information and experience they need to consider and pray about going back to Guatemala with their churches during the partnership,” Eudy said.
In addition to new relationships and newfound friends, the week-long effort also saw souls saved as several people made professions of faith while the team was in the country.
Kim Margrave, TBC volunteer missions specialist, said she was pleased at the response to this project.
“It is the first time that we put together a pastors conference,” she noted. “Many of the Tennessee churches that went are considering taking teams from their church or association back in the future to work with some of the churches they met,” Margrave added.
Eudy said he was “encouraging pastors and associations to form partnerships within the partnership. Developing an ongoing relationship and a mutual missions strategy and ministry plan will be much more effective and rewarding than simply ‘going on mission trips’ to different places each year,” he noted.
Hopefully, the summit paved the way for many to start a partnership with their new friends in Guatemala,” Eudy added.
Volunteer Brent Moore, pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville, observed that the experience “was mutually edifying to both Guatemalan pastors and Tennessee pastors.”
Team members included: Channing Kilgore, South Whitwell Baptist Church, Whitwell; Dale Ellenburg, First Baptist Church, Pigeon Forge; Gary Stafford, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Covington; Brent Moore, FBC, Clarksville; Mark Bass, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Crossville; Troy Luttrell, Kimball Baptist Church, Kimball; Mark and Jan Gregory, Calvary Baptist Church, Murfreesboro; Josh Lake and Stephen Foster, Boone Trail Baptist Church, Gray; Cory Hammett, First Baptist Church, Dandridge; Daniel Parker, Parkway Baptist Church, Smyrna; Charles Pratt, First Baptist Church, Somerville;
Curt Wagoner, Riverdale Baptist Church, Murfreesboro; Kenneth Summey, Lascassas Baptist Church, Lascassas; Randy Pool, Sanford Hill Baptist Church, Henderson; Mark Smith, Dan Carson, and Solano Guzman, Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage; and Kevin and Laura Minchey, Belle Air Baptist Church, Murfreesboro.