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Tenn. Baptists expand membership of presidential study committee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Tennessee Baptist messengers approved the extension of a special committee to study the role of the Tennessee Baptist Convention president after the original recommendation was amended to include all former TBC presidents residing in Tennessee.

Action took place during the 127th annual session of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Nov. 13-14 at the Knoxville-area First Baptist Church, Concord. Highlights of the meeting, which drew 2,081 registered messengers from 736 churches, included strong affirmation of the convention theme, “Together We … Affirm the Family.”

Messengers also took a strong stance against the lottery, elected Nashville pastor Kevin Shrum, of Inglewood Baptist Church, as the new convention president and approved a Cooperative Program budget of $36,934,004.

Prior to the report of the presidential study committee presented by TBC President Hollie Miller, pastor of Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, messenger James Robertson, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, Knoxville, asked for a point of order.

Robertson pointed out that because the convention did not initiate, create or elect it, the committee was not a proper body of the convention and an action to extend the committee would be “inappropriate.”

Parliamentarian Norman Templeton of First Baptist Church, Concord, who was presiding because all three officers are members of the committee, ruled that Miller, as TBC president, had the authority to create the committee under Bylaw 3 of the convention.

Robertson appealed the chair’s ruling but it did not get the needed two-thirds approval to overturn the ruling.

In presenting the report, Miller reiterated that the purpose of the committee was to study the role and effectiveness of the TBC president.

Miller went over findings of the committee, noting that the TBC is the only state convention that does not give its president some kind of appointive powers.

The recommendation of the committee was to extend its assignment for an additional year and to bring a report to the 2002 annual meeting.

“The work of the committee is not yet finished,” Miller told messengers. He noted the committee needs to discover why Tennessee is different from the other state conventions in regard to the role of its president.

Messenger Joe Stacker of Belmont Heights Baptist Church, Nashville, amended the motion to include all former TBC presidents who still live in Tennessee.

Stacker noted the committee includes five former state convention presidents, but observed “we need the wisdom of others.”

Robertson proposed an amendment to the amendment to include the president of the TBC Executive Board and the chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee. His amendment failed.

Doug Sager, pastor of the host church, opposed Stacker’s amendment. “The heart of our president was to assess the convention as it is now.” He advocated keeping the committee as Miller structured it. “Keep the committee as it is, let it work, and bring a report next year,” Sager said.

Marvin Cameron, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kingsport, noted that during the three decades he has attended TBC annual meetings, men of wisdom and stature have been elected as president.

“I see nothing that would hinder the committee’s work by adding these men,” Cameron said.

Bob Pitman, pastor of Kirby Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, spoke against adding the presidents because some of them had signed a letter that appeared in the Baptist and Reflector newsjournal citing their opposition to giving the TBC president appointive powers.

They would bring an agenda that would not be fair to the current committee, Pitman said.

Several other messengers spoke for and against the amendment before a show-of-hands vote was taken. A clear consensus was not evident so a ballot vote was taken. The amendment passed by a margin of 760-742, or 18 votes.

The recommendation from the committee was later approved with no further discussion.

Tennessee Baptist messengers were challenged and exhorted to keep the lottery out of their state by Dan Ireland, executive director of the Alabama Citizen’s Action Program, headquartered in Birmingham. Ireland helped lead the fight a few years ago to defeat the lottery in Alabama.

“Stand up, sound off, and shell out,” Ireland said.

He said the campaign to defeat the lottery on Nov. 5, 2002 will “be a battle.”

The decision that will be made, however, “is not a decision on gambling. It is a decision about the children of Tennessee,” he said.

He told Tennessee Baptists that the church community in Alabama made a difference in defeating the lottery. The same can be done in Tennessee if churches of all denominations work together.

“If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

Ireland challenged TBC churches to raise $1 per resident member to help defeat the lottery. “Everything worthwhile is going to cost you,” he said.

“Commit yourself individually that you will take a stand and let it be known,” Ireland concluded. He left the podium as messengers gave him a standing ovation.

Tennessee Baptists later approved a motion from messenger Kim Allen, pastor of Little West Fork Baptist Church, Clarksville, to receive an offering during the Tuesday evening service that would be forwarded to Gambling Free Tennessee, a coalition of business, civic and religious organizations committed to defeating the lottery in Tennessee. The TBC is involved in that organization.

When the offering was collected that evening, more than $4,700 was given.

During the convention messengers also approved a strong resolution opposing the lottery. The resolution noted the lottery and the entire enterprise of gambling is “completely opposed to God’s Word, reveals a dissatisfaction with God’s provision, encourages a desire to gain something for nothing, and also leads to the moral demise of society.”

The resolution also cited other negative aspects of gambling, particularly its negative influence on children and families.

The resolution called on all Tennesseans “to exercise their influence by voting in the Nov. 5, 2002, gubernatorial election, voting against gambling, and by becoming actively involved in defeating this far-reaching moral issue.”

In electing convention officers, messengers cast 876 votes for Shrum as president over 705 cast for Verlon Moore, retired pastor of Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville.

For first vice president, Walter Taylor, director of missions, Knox County Baptist Association, Knoxville, defeated Richard Holden, pastor of First Baptist Church, Alcoa, 661-463; for second vice president, Reed Dixon, a layman from First Baptist Church, Sweetwater, defeated Tom James, pastor of Alpha Baptist Church, Morristown, 442-410.

Tennessee Baptists approved without discussion a Cooperative Program budget of $36,934,004 for 2001-2002, an increase of $703,409, or 1.9 percent.

The budget included a one-time only lottery response amount of $72,580.

The convention will continue to allocate 62.5 percent of the budget for Tennessee missions and ministries and 37.5 percent for Southern Baptist national and international work.

“We conclude that it is a challenging budget under the circumstances, but it is a realistic and responsible budget,” said Jack Robinson, a messenger from Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, who served as chairman of the TBC executive board’s program and budget committee.

Messengers also approved a resolution on “Freedom” which took note of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and the events that have followed.

The resolution called for messengers “to stand united for freedom and against terrorism of any kind” and “to kneel united in prayer before God for our president, our government, and our military as they take action to protect the cause of freedom and to kneel united in prayer for all victims of terrorism, for all rescue efforts, and for the enemies of freedom.”

The resolution also requested Tennessee Baptists to “commit to kneel united before God in intercession and stand united with all Americans as a witness to the world for the cause of freedom.”

After its passage, messenger Frank Crawford, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Kingsport, requested that copies of the resolution be sent to President George W. Bush and to Tennessee congressmen. His motion was approved.

Another resolution cited missionaries and missions volunteers as “examples of perseverance, determination, courage, compassion, and patience.”

The resolution also commended Tennessee Baptists who have participated in missions activities, and encouraged all Tennessee Baptists to be involved in missions efforts and to give generously through the Cooperative Program and other offerings that support Southern Baptist mission efforts.

The 2002 annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will be Nov. 12-13 at First Baptist Church, Franklin, Tenn.

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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