HUNTINGDON, Tenn. (BP)–When Lana Suite (pronounced suit) begins planning a trip for her church’s senior adult women, one of the first things she does is call the Carroll-Benton Baptist Association, based in Huntingdon, Tenn. — to reserve the association’s van.
Suite’s congregation, McLemoresville (Tenn.) Baptist Church, had a van but it was old and not reliable enough to take on long trips. But using the association’s van, the group has visited the Hermitage in Nashville, Tenn., Shiloh National Park, Land Between the Lakes State Park and the birthplace of Alex Haley in Henning, Tenn.
McLemoresville Baptist, which draws about 100 people to a Sunday morning worship service, is saving money to buy a new van, Suite said, noting it has saved more toward the purchase because it was able to sell its van after the Baptist association started providing a van to its churches.
After it buys a van, McLemoresville Baptist Church will still need the association’s vehicle for large events like its youth retreat held recently in Gatlinburg, Suite said — and it will need the association’s van simply because the church is growing.
The association’s van is used almost every day of the week, said George Hill, the association’s director of missions. It serves associational groups and the 30 churches of the association and one mission congregation.
Part of the reason the van is so busy is the association has so many churches, Hill said, and part of the reason is Baptists in the association are very active.
The association uses it to transport people from its churches to national events, such as training at the LifeWay conference center in Ridgecrest, N.C., or to conduct disaster relief work; state events, such as those provided by the Tennessee Baptist Convention; and to area events, such as those held by the association.
The churches use it for various reasons, Hill continued. The smaller congregations use it more than the bigger congregations, he explained, because they may not be able to afford to buy a vehicle. But the larger churches often take big groups and need to transport more people than they regularly transport, he said.
Churches which couldn’t afford to buy enough vehicles to transport people to an event had to borrow or rent vehicles, Hill pointed out, or limit their efforts away from the church site.
“It’s really been a blessing to all of our churches,” Hill said.
The association was in the position of many of its churches before buying the van, Hill recounted. It had to borrow a vehicle or vehicles from churches for association trips. But buying the van wasn’t easy, requiring almost four years of savings of designated gifts from the churches before its purchase.
The association raised the full price before buying the van to avoid paying any interest, to be good stewards of the offerings, Hill noted.
Ken Zike, pastor of Missionary Grove Baptist Church, Camden, Tenn., noted associational leaders give Hill credit for developing and pursuing the idea of buying the van. He said groups show their gratitude by regularly returning the van clean.