From Dyersburg to Ducktown, from Memphis to Mountain City, Tennessee Baptists impact the state for Jesus
Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Who, exactly, are Tennessee Baptists? The best way to answer those questions is by going directly to the source. Below, in their own words, are a few of the leaders and lay people from the Volunteer state, talking about their faith and their ministry.
Former SBC president
Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church
I am grateful to pastor a church that actively participates in and through the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Tennessee Baptists love Jesus Christ. We believe He is divine and eternal, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died an atoning sacrificial death for our sins, rose bodily, victoriously and eternally from the grave, ascended to heaven, will soon return as King of Kings, and He is the only way of salvation. We believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. We believe people without Jesus are lost and separated from God. We believe when anyone repents of sin, believes in Christ’s death and resurrection, and receives Him as Lord and Savior, that person is born again. We believe that every Christian is commanded by Christ to share this good news about Jesus with everyone in the world and we believe in working together cooperatively to accomplish that great mission.
Director of Missions
Big Hatchie Baptist Association
Everywhere you go in this great state, just around the corner you will find a Tennessee Baptist. They are your neighbors and co-workers, they may serve on the school board or umpire your kids’ ballgames. They love unconditionally, serve faithfully, and they want to make a difference for eternity. Sunday School teachers, deacons, pastors and faithful church members – these are Tennessee Baptists and I am glad to be one of them.
Pastor of Discipleship and Students
Hopewell Baptist Church
Tennessee Baptists are a man named Charles Shepherd — a faithful man who shared the gospel with me when I was 9 years old. They are the ladies of our rural church organizing housewarming parties for local foster children. They are churches that commission international church planters to some of the biggest cities in the world. Tennessee Baptists are ordinary people with an extraordinary commission under the authority of Jesus Christ.
Nolachucky Baptist Association
Tennessee has long been known as the “Volunteer State” and Tennessee Baptists are no exception. Many Tennessee Baptists serve Christ by volunteering in their church, community, association, state, nation and around the world using the gifts, skills and talents with which God blessed them. From the humble prayer warrior to disaster relief, food pantry or pregnancy center volunteers to short-term missionaries, Tennessee Baptists share love to people by being the hands and feet of Christ.
Tennessee WMU president
Love, compassionate, deeply desiring to see the unsaved come to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, by accepting Him as their Savior and Lord; these are all the things I would use to describe a Tennessee Baptist. However, if I had to summarize into one word what it is to be a Tennessee Baptist, it would be compassionate. Compassion in showing our love for Christ by being His hands and feet, through the various ministries and mission projects, and the support of missionaries, but more importantly, in the deep seated desire to make disciples that make disciples. Our number one goal is to lead the “lost” to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord; and this encompasses all of the aforementioned. Yes, a Tennessee Baptist is a compassionate soul winner for the Lord!
Pastor, First Baptist Church
I’ve had the privilege of serving churches in two of our three grand divisions in Tennessee. The one constant in all these churches was the love and passion members had for evangelism and missions. In spite of differences in culture, age, background, friendships or communities, this was the glue that has held us together and set our course. This is the glue that will hold us together for the future.
It has been my distinct honor and privilege to be a Tennessee Southern Baptist for 71 years. Across these years I have been nurtured, challenged, corrected and ministered to by Tennessee Baptists. But most of all, I have been loved. Tennessee Baptists have three distinct characteristics. We are a people on mission to reach Tennessee and the rest of our troubled world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are a people of the Book. As a whole, Tennessee Baptists have been and are faithful to the infallible Word of God and we are a people committed to the local church through which we serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Most every day, I thank my dear Lord for the influence of Tennessee Baptists on my life.
Luis R. Lopez
Acting Director of Missions
Robertson County Baptist Association
Tennessee Baptists are sinners saved by the grace of God who have made this beautiful and welcoming state our earthly home. We are tall, short, skinny, big, white, black, yellow and brown — all redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We speak English, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, etc., and stand at the foot of the Cross. We are on mission to proclaim His wonders and worship in small, medium-sized and large churches in small towns and cities.
SBC Executive Committee
Tennessee Baptists are people who are passionate about living out the Great Commandment and fulfilling the Great Commission. Churches across the Volunteer State have a laser sharp focus on reaching the nations and their neighborhood. This dynamic network of like-minded churches cooperates together to make an impact for God’s kingdom here at home and around the world. I am glad to be a part of the Tennessee Baptist family.
David L. Ward
When I think of who Tennessee Baptists are, I think of those who exemplify the life of Jesus Christ. I became pastor at Redemption Church in Columbia on June 16, 2019. Shortly after becoming pastor, I met Lewis McMullen. Lewis is a man who walks the walk and talks the talk. He contacted me, invited me out to lunch and explained to me how he could help our church as a new start up from a financial standpoint. He has also preached at my church when I had military duty. He is always available to talk to me in regards to church as well as overall life matters, and he has helped strengthen my walk with Christ. I recently was promoted to Command Chief Warrant Officer of the Tennessee Army National Guard and he attended my Change of Responsibility Ceremony at our State Headquarters. That meant a lot to my wife, Jennifer, and me. When he congratulated me, he also gave me a gold coin with Ephesians 6:13-17 on it — “Put on the Whole Armor of God.” When I think of who Tennessee Baptists are, I think of Lewis McMullen.
Black Church Development Specialist
When I think of who Tennessee Baptists are, two ideas come to mind: missions-minded, action-oriented. Where there is a need in our state, Tennessee Baptists respond! Whether locally or internationally, Tennessee Baptists are impacting God’s people through the Cooperative Program, the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions and volunteerism that is second to none. As a church planter, the Big Hatchie Baptist Association, Tennessee Baptist Foundation and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board combined resources to see that Kingdom work in our small rural town is happening. They provided guidance throughout the process that saw a group of five grow to what is today known as Forerunner Baptist Church. Two other churches have been planted from the Forerunner family, and plans are that those churches will plant others.
White’s Creek Baptist Church
Tennessee Baptists are men called by God to do God’s work where God leads them. They are men with wives who know the power of prayer and whose wives share in their ministry. Tennessee Baptists are men who work long hours, go home, then go visit people in hospitals, people in nursing homes, people who are sick and people who just need a friend to listen to them.
I am one of those God has called to bivocational ministry. I am one that God has given a Proverbs 31:10 wife (she is worth more than rubies). I am thankful beyond words to my Lord Jesus Christ for saving my soul, for calling me to preach His word, to pastor in Tennessee and live out our Lord’s Great Commission. What is a Tennessee Baptist? For me, it is living in real life, Joshua 24:15 — “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”
Director of Missions
Gibson Baptist Association
Having served an association in Middle Tennessee and now serving in West Tennessee, I recognize we are various subcultures and ethnicities across the state. We cherish our autonomy. However, we gladly join hands in cooperation to reach our state for Christ. We value cooperation being the home state of the idea of the Cooperative Program. Evangelism and missions define our heartbeat.
As a pastor of Nashville Chinese Baptist church, it has been my joy and honor to serve 12 years as a pastor in this Chinese local church. We are Mandarin Baptist church, affiliated with Tennessee Baptist Convention. I feel honored to be called by God to guide around 100 American Chinese into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and spiritually empowering worship. I am also honored to experience equipping them to become authentic disciples of Jesus Christ who administer their spiritual gifts through caring fellowship groups that reach out to the entire community through friendship and evangelism, thereby fulfilling their life mission in the world. It is our honor to be part of the ministries of Tennessee Baptist Mission Board to reach Tennessee, reach the nations and change the world for the glory of God by supporting some missionaries, both domestic and abroad, and having fellowship with around 70 students every Friday. … The goal of my ministry is to evangelize within the member’s circle of influence, beginning with their loved ones, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers, eventually reaching out to the entire world for Christ to the glory of God to fulfill the great commandment and the great commission. (Matthew 22:37-39, 28:18-20)
To be a Tennessee Baptist, to me, is to be a born again believer, submitting to the authority of God’s Word, a disciple abiding in Jesus Christ under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit and openly testifying as such. I, as a Tennessee Baptist, seek to be in unity with others as an active member of a local Baptist church. I want to be informed through my church, local association and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board of issues affecting me as a Christian and a Baptist and to give sacrificially in support of the overall mission of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. I’m blessed to be a Tennessee Baptist to the bone!
Association Mission Strategist
CrossNet Baptist Network
Most denominations are “top down,” meaning there’s a large organization, often managing smaller organizations, that eventually manages the church. Unlike “top down” religious groups, Tennessee Baptists manage religious affairs from the “bottom-up” as a group of autonomous churches who partner together for common goals. We believe we are stronger together, defined by cooperation, a cornerstone of Southern Baptist life. Its mission work is financed through the Cooperative Program, but on the basis of voluntary cooperation, not compulsion.
Minister of music
Mount Gilead Baptist Church
In Tennessee Baptist churches, I was raised from birth, saved, called to ministry, taught, trained, discipled and mentored. I met my wife when we were both students at Union University. I served two churches in Tennessee for a combined 30 years as minister of music. The profound influence of Julian Suggs, Paul Clark, Randy Davis, Scott Shepherd and many other pastors and worship leaders helped shape my worship leading as well as my Christian growth. I am grateful for the ministry of Tennessee Baptists!
Minister of education
Springfield Baptist Church
I have been in Tennessee for 25 years as minister of education at Springfield Baptist Church. When I think of what Tennessee Baptists have meant to me I cannot help but think about Tim Holcomb, Ken Marler, Mark Coo, and Bruce Raley. Those four men have been a tremendous influence on my ministry. I figured out a long time ago that I needed to learn from those smarter than me. That’s what I did.
Nashville Baptist Association
I am blessed to be a Tennessee Baptist. We are a diverse group of people who speak more than 150 languages representing more than 90 people groups. We live in downtown condos and rural mountain hollows. We represent many political and theological views. The one thing most important to us all is our Love for Christ and our desire to serve Him. B&R