SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Tom Madden, 90, executive director/treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention from 1979-89, died Sunday, July 19, in Shelbyville, Tenn.
A native of Enid, Okla., Madden came to Tennessee in 1951 to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenbrier after serving as a pastor in both his home state and in Texas. His ministry would continue in Tennessee for the remainder of his life. Even after his retirement as executive director, he remained active in serving various TBC institutions and churches.
Madden left Greenbrier in 1954 to accept the pastorate of First Baptist Church in Tullahoma, where he ministered until 1976 when he joined the staff of the convention as director of convention ministries, serving in that role until being selected as executive director (then executive secretary-treasurer) on Jan. 1, 1979.
As a Tennessee pastor, Madden was president of the state convention in 1969 and served on the state convention’s executive board from 1958-64 and 1970-76.
At the SBC level, Madden served on the SBC Executive Committee from 1966-74 and was a director of the former SBC Education Commission. A strong supporter of Christian higher education, Madden had earned degrees from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Current TBC Executive Director James Porch followed Madden as pastor of First Baptist in Tullahoma and, later, to the state convention.
“For over 30 years, he allowed me to walk in his footsteps, but upon his insistence, never in his shadow,” Porch said. “His desire prevailed; I have been my own person throughout our friendship. We shared a connection — a reciprocal human effort to travel through an extended season, blending our ministries. We prayed together, laughed at each other, cried with each other, disagreed face to face and always moved on.”
Carroll Owen, a retired TBC staff member, knew Madden for more than 35 years and became director of convention ministries when Madden moved to the executive director’s role.
“Two things that always impressed me were his love for churches, especially the smaller ones, and his commitment to missions,” Owen said, noting that Madden was the “driving force” behind Tennessee Baptists’ partnership with Michigan Baptists and the hunger and relief project in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), West Africa.
“These provided much of the impetus for the volunteer movement which has seen so many Tennessee Baptists become personally involved in missions,” Owen said. “I’ll always be grateful for the privilege of serving Tennessee Baptists under his leadership.”
Another longtime colleague was Gerald Stow, retired president of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes.
“Tennessee Baptists have lost a great friend in the homegoing of Dr. Tom Madden,” said Stow, who was president of the TBC executive board when Madden was called as executive director.
“He was a wonderful role model to many who knew him. I admired his work ethic, his care and concern for pastors of small and large churches and his devoted relationship to our directors of missions and heads of our Baptist institutions,” Stow continued. “Above all, he had a deep passion and love for the lost. He will be missed.”
Virginia Wagnon, who joined First Baptist in Tullahoma in 1957, recalled that Madden was always ready to respond to the needs of his congregation. “I remembered his mowing the grass wearing a tie. After observing this several times I finally figured out that the reason he did so was to be ready if he got a call that some family needed him.”
She added that Madden was not only her pastor but also was “a pastor’s pastor and the town’s pastor. I think anyone who knew him those years he was in Tullahoma would agree.”
Madden was preceded in death by his wife Edna Earle. He is survived by two children, Thomas J. Madden III of New Jersey and Jane Madden of Nashville, and two grandchildren.
The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at First Baptist Church in Tullahoma. The body will lie in state in the chapel of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Brentwood Wednesday evening and the family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Burial will be July 23 at 1 p.m. at Hollywood Cemetery in Jackson, Tenn.
Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (www.tnbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.