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News for Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2010 — a year in review
New TBC leadership, disaster relief response top TBC stories
By Lonnie Wilkey
Baptist and Reflector

BRENTWOOD — There was no shortage of news in the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 2010. Following is a synopsis of some of the year’s major stories and events.

The convention went through a change of leadership as James Porch retired as executive director in July after holding the position for 18 years.

Porch was succeeded by Randy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church, Sevierville, and standing president of the convention.

Upon his election as executive director, Davis stepped down as president and Poly Rouse, vice president and pastor of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage, assumed the position. Rouse was later elected in November for a full term as TBC president.

Davis hit the ground running, visiting numerous churches and associations throughout the state.

Natural disasters

Two natural disasters also dominated news in 2010.

An earthquake rocked Haiti last January killing or injuring hundreds of thousands of people and leaving an estimated 1.5 million people without homes.

Numerous Tennessee Baptists traveled to Haiti to help with relief efforts.

In addition, a number of TBC churches participated in a Southern Baptist Convention-wide effort to provide “Buckets of Hope” to Haitians. Tennessee Baptists provided 13,904 buckets which contained enough food staples such as rice and beans to feed a family of six to eight people for a week.

Relief efforts in Haiti have been hampered in recent months by political unrest in the country and disease, but volunteers are still going to the country on a regular basis.

In May heavy rains caused record flooding primarily in West and Middle Tennessee, leaving millions of dollars in damages. Several churches across the state were damaged or destroyed. Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center in Linden was hit hard, with several buildings destroyed including the Tabernacle. The building has been demolished and a “Hearts Awaken” campaign has been launched to build a new worship center at the conference center. See photos on page 1.

Disaster relief volunteers were busy for months with clean up efforts following the flooding.

Other stories in 2010

Other significant stories in 2010 included the following:

• The Baptist and Reflector celebrated its 175th anniversary. The paper was established in 1835 as The Baptist.

• Wm. Fletcher Allen, editor of the Baptist and Reflector from 1987-98, died on Feb. 27 at the age of 78.  The South Carolina native authored a history of the B&R in 2005 entitled Telling the Truth in Love: A brief History of the Baptist and Reflector from 1835.

• The report of the Great Commission Task Force which was adopted by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in June in Orlando, Fla., was a major SBC event which will impact Baptist state conventions in years to come. Under a current cooperative agreement with the North American Mission Board, the TBC receives more than $474,000 annually for ministry projects in Tennessee. These funds will be phased out over the next few years. Loss of these funds will particularly impact churches and associations in rural areas of the state. The two conventions Tennessee has a partnership/connection with, Iowa and Montana, also will lose funding. Two Tennessee Baptists served on the task force — Union University President David Dockery and Donna Gaines, wife of Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova.

• Trustees of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation elected Gary Coltharp to succeed W. L. “Bo” Childs as president. Childs retired Oct. 31 after serving as president since 1995. Coltharp, who became the eighth president of TBF on Nov. 1, has been on the Foundation staff since 1998.

• In June, total giving by Tennessee Baptists through the Cooperative Program since 1926, the year after it was established, topped the $1 billion mark.

• Tragedy struck the state on June 16 when Palmer Maphet, a Tennessee Baptist summer missionary from Mount Juliet and a student at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, was killed in an automobile accident near Portland, Maine. Three other students and their summer sponsor were injured in the accident.

• In August 61 people were baptized in a joint baptism service by seven churches in Nolachucky Baptist Association. Among those baptized were 28 members of the Carson-Newman College football team.

• In September, the TBC Executive Board adopted a resolution affirming the Cooperative Program and took the first step in moving toward a 50/50 distribution of CP funds with the SBC. In November, TBC messengers approved the Executive Board recommendation that will begin the move toward a 50/50 distribution “beginning 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. For several years the TBC has operated under a 60/40 distribution of CP funds, with 60 percent remaining in state for TBC missions and ministries.

• In October, Concord Baptist Association, headquartered in Murfreesboro, celebrated its 200th anniversary.

• In November, TBC messengers also approved the formation of a Vision 2021 Strategic Planning Team (see story on page 1).

• Also in November, Union University announced plans to  build a 24,000-square-foot facility in Hendersonville. The facility will be the first permanent four-year university presence in Hendersonville and Sumner County.

• In December, David Dockery celebrated his 15th anniversary as president of Union University in Jackson. During his tenure enrollment has increased from 1,972 in 1995 to 4,186 in the fall of 2010 and the budget has increased from $18 million to $81 million.

• Work continued throughout the year on the new Missions Mobilization Center which is being constructed in Mount Juliet on property donated by Don and Ann Davis, members of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage. When completed, the MMC will house the TBC disaster relief units along with other ministries. The house, currently under renovation, will be used to house volunteers working on the MMC and later for furloughing missionaries. Work is being done as funds are available. 

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