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STATE MEETINGS: Tennessee, BGAV

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TBC messengers elect officers, launch Acts 2:17 Initiative

By Lonnie Wilkey and David Dawson/Baptist and Reflector

CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP) – Tennessee Baptist Convention messengers adopted a $35 million budget for 2022-23, approved a constitutional amendment on second reading, renewed a missions partnership with Guatemala and dealt with a variety of resolutions among a myriad of business conducted Nov. 15-16 during their annual meeting at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova.

Attendees gather at the altar for a time of prayer during the Sunday night service at Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova. The service was part of the “opening night” events for Summit (the annual gathering of Tennessee Baptists). Photo by James Wilson 

The theme of the meeting was “Across the Streets, the States and the Seas.”

Messengers also received a final report from the Tennessee Baptist Sexual Abuse Task Force and received a resource entitled “Ministering Well: Best Practices and Resources Related to Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response.”

The convention drew 843 messengers and 104 visitors from 444 churches. Last year’s annual meeting at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, drew 943 messengers. The last annual meeting held in West Tennessee (2018, West Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson) drew 934 messengers).

Budget

In presenting the 2022-23 budget, Jeff Bowden, chair of the Budget and Ministry Committee of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and associate pastor of education at Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, noted that Cooperative Program gifts began strongly last year but dropped off toward the end of the year.

The committee decided to recommend the same $35 million budget as the previous year with the same allocation percentages — 52.5 percent for TBC causes and 47.5 percent for Southern Baptist Convention causes.

Acts 2:17 Initiative

The Acts 2:17 Initiative was officially launched during the Tuesday afternoon session (Nov. 15) of the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention The initiative will provide Tennessee Baptists across the state the opportunity to speak into future priorities of the state convention.

Prior to the Summit, Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, has written that the initiative “could become the most consequential process in the TBC’s recent history and at its heart is us working together in seeking God’s preferable future for our network of churches.”

TBC President Clay Hallmark, who was re-elected to a second term, called the Acts 2:17 Initiative “a watershed mark in our history. We have been working and praying for this day,” he said.

Officers

Messengers veered from tradition by re-electing Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington, to serve a second term as TBC president.

Hallmark ran unopposed and was re-elected by acclamation.

Joel Pigg, senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Trenton, was elected as vice president and Gene Nelson, senior pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville, was elected second vice president. Pigg and Nelson both ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation.   

Since 1942, TBC presidents have generally served only one year on a rotating basis among the three grand regions of the state, although there have been two exceptions. Hallmark ran unopposed and was re-elected by acclamation.

Joel Pigg, senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Trenton, was elected as vice president and Gene Nelson, senior pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville, was elected second vice president. Pigg and Nelson both ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation.   

Constitutional amendment

Tennessee Baptist messengers approved on second reading by a two-thirds majority an amendment to the Constitution which allows a church giving to the TBC-only portion of the Cooperative Program to seat messengers at the annual meeting.

David Worley, chair of the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws and pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church, Cedar Grove, reminded messengers that the amendment did not redefine the Cooperative Program. “It reaffirms the autonomy of the local church,” Worley said.

During discussion, Bartlett pastor Fred Shackelford of Ellendale Baptist Church expressed support of the amendment and noted that the change “better reflects Baptist polity,” but he encouraged Tennessee Baptists to remember that “cooperation is important. That is the heart of the Cooperative Program,” he said.

Ministering well

During the afternoon session on the first day, the TBC Sexual Abuse Task Force presented its report and introduced messengers to the booklet, “Ministering Well: Best Practices and Resources Related to Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response.” The task force was authorized by messengers during last year’s annual meeting and was appointed by TBC President Clay Hallmark.

Hallmark noted the task force was formed with the purpose of “being proactive in helping victims, churches and Baptist people del with the hurt, pain and challenges of sexual abuse, allegations and harassment.”

In a letter included in the booklet, Hallmark added that the goal of the task force “is not to just resource Tennessee Baptists but to equip them.”

Messengers also approved resolutions on avowing opposition to casinos in Tennessee, sexual abuse, revival, biblical sexuality and gratitude.

The 2023 annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will be held Nov. 1-15 at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga.


BGAV elects new executive director at 199th annual meeting

HAMPTON, Va. (BP) – The 199th meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, ended Wednesday morning with a message of hope from Wayne Faison, BGAV’s newly elected executive director. Shortly after being voted into the position, Faison said, “God has called me to BGAV to keep hope alive! When we are able to recognize God for who he is, then we are able to keep hope alive.”

(Left to right) Adam Tyler, Wayne Faison, Carmen Faison, Allen Jessee.

Faison, who was introduced as the candidate by the executive director search team the morning before, said that his ascent to the role was “a matching of callings. As the Lord was working with the executive director search team, the Lord was also working with me.”

He thanked the group of 476 registered attendees, 314 of whom were messengers from BGAV churches, and a virtual online audience. “I don’t take this honor for granted,” he said.

This year’s annual meeting was the first in a hybrid model, with hundreds in physical attendance and many others attending virtually using BGAV’s own ChurchPoint app and the event website. In-person messengers voted in Wednesday’s business session to pass an amendment to the constitution/bylaws that will allow those attending online in the future the ability to not only view and participate, but also to vote remotely.

Messengers approved a 2023 budget of $8,209,800, reflecting a slight decline from last year’s total of just over $8.6 million.

Also in Wednesday’s business session, messengers elected new leadership for the next year. Herbert Ponder, senior pastor of Mount Tabor Baptist Church in Richmond, was elected president to succeed outgoing president Ron Gravatt, who presided over most of the meeting.

Becky McKinney, member of Chatham Heights Baptist Church in Martinsville, was elected first vice president. She was also honored at the event as the outgoing chair of the BGAV executive board.

Mark Hughes, pastor of West End Baptist Church in Dinwiddie, was elected second vice president. Nathan Taylor, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, was also elected to continue as clerk for the next year.

Highlights of the event included inspirational messages by best-selling author Carey Nieuwhof, who spoke to the group twice on Tuesday. Freddy Villarreal, Senior Pastor of Freedom Life Church in Hampton, also was a featured preacher. Villarreal spoke twice on Tuesday and led a segment during Wednesday’s closing worship session.

BGAV will celebrate its bicentennial anniversary next year at the 200th annual meeting, Nov. 13-15, 2023, at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen.

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