// history

9: Dr. J. Timothy Sumners, 1975-78

Love is the Theme
The Pastorate of Dr. J. Timothy Sumners, 1975-78
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no 1 aw. ” Galatians 5:22-23

Rev. J. Timothy Sumners

Four months after Rev. Campbell’s resignation. North Cleveland called Rev. Timothy Sumners as her pastor. One of the church’s youngest pastors, to that date, Sumners, 31, came to North Cleveland from an associate pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. After hearing a favorable report from a pulpit committee composed of Kenneth Andrews, Bill Cochran, Kenneth Russell, Hoyt El rod and T.J. Cawood, North Cleveland voted, by standing vote, unanimously to call Sumners. Beginning his tenure on September 14, 1975, Sumner served as pastor for three years, till August 28, 1978. While at North Cleveland Sumners received a doctoral degree from Luther Rice Seminary in Jacksonville, Florida in May, 1978.
A quiet but thoughtful individual, Sumners led the church to consider several matters relating to the furtherance of the local ministry of the church. The deacons also took an active role in several of these concerns. In February, 1976, the church approved the formation of a Church Council “to coordinate and plan the activities of the church.” In establishing this council, church leaders hoped the church program could flow smoother and be more effective without confusion or overlapping. Later in the year, the church approved that the following church officers serve as the Church Council: Pastor, Associate Pastor, Minister of Youth, Minister of Music, Sunday School Director, Training Union Director, Women’s Missionary Union Director, Brotherhood Director, Director of Library Services, Church Host or Hostess, and the Chairman of the Deacons. While the council functioned as a planning committee, it also served as an advisory body.
Later in 1976, the church began to consider the necessity of a church constitution. Although she had operated effectively without a written statement of purpose for thirty-nine years. North Cleveland members recognized the need for defined set of guidelines and schedules. As a result, she appointed Glen Greene, Mrs. J.L. (Francine) Haney, James Hendrix, John Morrow, Mrs. Danny (Libby) : Douglas, Mrs. Earline Gannaway, Tony Teague, Mrs. Ressie Hancock, T.J. Cawood, Ralph Dean Earby and Walter Townsend as Constitution and By-Laws Committee. Primarily the proposed Constitution would detail North Cleveland’s purposes, her Article of Faith, provisions for memberships, ordinances, and requirements for church organizations and church members, Organized in May, 1976, the Constitution committee worked throughout the rest of the year, and submitted a finished draft for the church’s consideration in September, 1977.
Generally, the church’s primary objectives are stated in the Constitution’s Preamble
“We the members of the North Cleveland Baptist Church, Cleveland Tennessee, in order that we may secure to ourselves and those who come after us the rich blessings of joining our efforts together that we may better serve Christ, the living Son of God, in peace, and in love, to provide for the presentation and security of the principles of our faith, to insure that this church may be governed in an orderly manner consistent with New Testament teachings to preserve the liberties inherent in each individual member of this church, and the freedom of action of this body with respect to its relation to other churches of the same faith, to preserve and protect the highest kind of spiritual unity and Christ-love and fellowship which we seek to know and share with each other, and that we may not forget our privilege of taking Christ to the lost here and everywhere, do declare and establish this Constitution and these By-Laws. All previous action, customs, and procedures by the members of this church have either been embodied in or deleted from this Constitution and By-Laws in their entirety, and therefore became null and void upon the adoption of this article except in the case of legal obligations of the church.
After a series of revisions and additions, the church approved the Constitution and By-Laws, and agreed to implement the provisions for a ten-month trial period, Further discussion on the matter took place during church business meetings held on May 5, and July 19, 1978, when the church apparently agreed that revisions needed to be made in the By-Laws, In January, 1979, however, the deacons recommended that the 1977 Constitution be utilized for an indefinite period of time. Although the church appointed a By-Laws Revision Committee on October 15, 1979, and elected another similar committee in December, 1980, little action on the necessary alterations seems to have transpired.
The Constitution details North Cleveland Baptist’s purpose as one of taking the message of Christ to mankind, of reflecting God’s righteousness and honor in all matters, of providing the potential for spiritual growth among its members and for all men everywhere, and of representing Baptist doctrine and polity worthily. In that respect. North Cleveland wholeheartedly supports the “Baptist Faith and Message” statements of the SBC annual meetings in 1925, and in 1963, respectively. The church also promises to support, “insofar as it is practical,” the efforts of the Bradley Baptist Association, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention in their particular service and mission endeavors. In this document. North Cleveland provides for her local ministry and membership as well. Membership in North Cleveland Baptist is open to those who “believe in a sovereign, democratic, and New Testament church,” who profess Christ as Lord and Saviour, who are approved for membership by church vote, and have made adequate provisions concerning
baptism.
Stipulating that church property and financial matters are strictly the responsibility of the entire church membership, the Constitution gives the pastor, deacons, and other appropriate leaders the authority to faithfully represent the church in making and executing church decisions. These actions, however, transpire only after some type ofchurch approval.
In respect to committee action, the Constitution states:
The church shall elect such standing committees and special committees as it may deem necessary to carry on the various phase of the church program effectively and efficiently. All committee members and the chairman of all regular committees– unless otherwise specified?ج