KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Tennessee Baptist Convention messengers overwhelmingly adopted a recommendation from the TBC Executive Board to begin moving toward a 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program funds with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Messengers also welcomed new Executive Director Randy Davis, adopted a $36.5 million budget, authorized a strategic planning team, extended two missions partnerships and a missions “connection”; and approved a resolution affirming the Cooperative Program.
The theme of the Nov. 9-10 meeting at Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville was “Exalting Jesus through Ministry.” Attendance for the TBC’s 136th annual meeting was up about 10 percent from last year — 1,283 messengers compared to the 1,173 who attended the 2009 meeting in Jackson.
The TBC budget currently provides 60 percent of Cooperative Program receipts for Tennessee Baptist missions and ministry endeavors, while forwarding 40 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministries. The recommendation approved by messengers begins the process of moving toward a 50/50 distribution to begin “no later than the 2012-2013 budget year and continue in a manner and over a time frame so as to enhance, not inhibit, the ministry of the TBC as well as the SBC.”
The six-part recommendation said the specific plan for achieving the desired allocation would be determined by a proposed strategic planning team. It also called on the convention’s Budget and Ministry Committee to “monitor the giving of TBC churches and the impact of adjusted percentage allocations through an appropriate subcommittee or other means.”
Messengers also approved the Executive Board recommendation authorizing the convention president, Executive Board president and executive director to jointly appoint a Vision 2021 Strategic Planning Team.
Davis told messengers that for him personally “this is the most important action we will take.”
He noted that his desire when accepting the executive director position earlier this year was “to have a blue-ribbon group to examine everything we do. It is to be a thorough examination of where we are in state convention life and where we are going.”
Davis said the names of team members, which will include Tennessee Baptists from all walks of life and churches of all sizes, will be announced before the end of the year. The team will begin meeting soon afterward and will provide periodic reports to the Executive Board and a final report to messengers at the 2011 annual meeting.
Messengers elected Poly Rouse, pastor of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, as president for 2011. Rouse, who was elected last year as convention vice president, had served as president since June after Davis resigned as president to become executive director/treasurer. Davis previously was pastor of First Baptist Church in Sevierville.
Two other officers were elected without opposition: Fred Shackelford, pastor of Springhill Baptist Church, in Paris, vice president, and Norman Templeton, a layman from First Baptist Church Concord in Knoxville, second vice president.
The 2010-11 budget of $36.5 million was approved without opposition. The budget is $500,000 higher than the budget for the past fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31. Cooperative Program receipts for the past year were $1.46 million, 4.08 percent below budget.
Richard Wallace, a member of First Baptist Church, Sevierville, and chairman of the Budget and Ministry Committee, called the new budget a “budget of vision and a budget of hope.”
Davis said he knew the question would be asked, and he asked it himself, “Why raise the budget when we didn’t meet last year’s budget?”
The answer, Davis said, is “a tremendous need to push back the lostness of humanity. We need to go in a different direction.”
Davis said he understands the economy’s impact on church budgets.
“We will monitor expenditures and will be wise stewards of the monies entrusted to us,” Davis pledged.
Messengers also approved a $1 million challenge budget for the coming year to be allocated 50 percent to SBC causes and 50 percent to TBC causes (with a pro-rata division calculated on the base budget). Any funds received in excess of the challenge budget would continue to be allocated based on the challenge budget percentages.
Messengers extended three current missions relationships. Partnerships with the Montana Southern Baptist Convention and the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary were extended for three years, ending Dec. 31, 2013. A state convention to state convention “connection” with the Baptist Convention of Iowa was extended for two years, ending Dec. 31, 2012.
The TBC’s 2011 annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.
Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (www.tnbaptist.org), newsjournal of churches affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.