Conservatives fail to gain ground in Tennessee_120803

Posted: 12/05/03

Conservatives fail to gain ground in Tennessee

JACKSON, Tenn. (ABP)--Several attempts to place more conservatives in leadership of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and its institutions failed during the convention's annual meeting.

The convention's 1,905 messengers also adopted resolutions supporting the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment and the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. A 2003-04 budget of $35.55 million was adopted, which is 4.4 percent less than the current budget. The Southern Baptist Convention will receive 37.5 percent of undesignated funds, while 62.5 percent will finance the state convention's ministries.

Led by a group called Concerned Tennessee Baptists, conservatives offered seven substitute nominees to those presented for election by convention committees. All seven nominations from the floor failed.

Some conservatives are concerned that too many members of the committee on committees and the committee on boards--which nominate leaders--are associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a moderate group that differs from the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention. A motion to consider changing the qualifications for those serving on the two committees was narrowly defeated.

The defeats caused some conservatives to question their financial support of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

"It's going to cause many of us to rethink the way we support state mission giving," Glenn Denton, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lebanon, told the Nashville Tennessean.

Former Nashville pastor Bill Sherman of Fairview said screening committee members for support of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is at odds with the traditional Baptist belief of soul liberty. "It will be a can of worms we will regret from now on," Sherman said.

In other business, messengers elected Mike Boyd, pastor of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, as president over Randy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sevierville, 53 percent to 47 percent.

Davis, described as an inerrantist in his nomination speech, was endorsed by Concerned Tennessee Baptists in a "2003 Conservative Voters Guide" distributed to messengers.

Robert Tyson, a director of missions from Springfield, was elected first vice president with no opposition.

Millington pastor Steve Flockhart, who was endorsed by the conservative group, was elected second vice president over Michael Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, 57 percent to 43 percent. Flockhart, pastor of Crosspointe Baptist Church in Millington, was nominated by prominent conservative pastor Jerry Sutton of Nashville.

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