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Matters for Consideration, SBC Annual Meeting

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Golden Gate Seminary Requests Name Change
Electronic Voting and Quorum Issues Addressed
NAMB Asks for Ministry Assignment Expansion
Convention to Consider Second Vote on Proposed Amendment to Article III of the SBC Constitution


Golden Gate Seminary Requests Name Change

Jeff Iorg

Golden Gate Seminary (GGBTS) President Jeff Iorg signs documents for the sale of the Mill Valley (San Francisco-area) campus. Photo courtesy of GGBTS.

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary will become Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention if messengers to the next two SBC annual meetings approve a February 17 recommendation of the SBC Executive Committee.

The EC voted on February 17, 2015, to recommend that the SBC amend Golden Gate’s articles of incorporation as well as SBC Bylaw 14 to change the seminary’s name to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention in conjunction with the move of its primary campus from the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern California. The EC’s recommendation came in response to a January 14 request by the seminary board’s executive committee, ratified by the seminary’s full board on April 20.

To take effect, the bylaw amendment must be approved by SBC messengers at two successive SBC annual meetings, with the first vote slated for the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in June 2015 and, if approved, the second vote to be taken in St. Louis, Missouri, in June 2016.

Last July, Golden Gate finalized the sale of its property near Mill Valley, California, for a base price of $85 million along with other terms favorable to the seminary. The purchase agreement allows Golden Gate to remain fully operational in its current facilities through the summer of 2016.

Golden Gate Seminary

GGBTS has purchased a six-story building in the Los Angeles area to anchor its new campus by the summer of 2016. Photo courtesy of GGBTS.

The seminary announced in August that it had signed a purchase agreement for the site of its new primary campus in Southern California.

The new site includes a six-story building, an adjacent ready-to-build lot, and more than seven hundred parking places in the city of Ontario, part of Southern California’s Inland Empire region. The building was constructed in 2009 and remained vacant due to the economic downturn. The building’s exterior is finished and all mechanical systems have been installed, but its interior is unfinished. The adjacent lot is already legally entitled for a future building.

The seminary will maintain a regional campus in the San Francisco Bay Area along with regional campuses in Brea, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; and the Portland, Oregon, area.

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(Note: Recommended changes are abridged in this issue of SBC LIFE in order to highlight only the changes in the proposal. Addition of text is indicated by underline and deletion of text is indicated by strikethrough.)

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Amendment to Restated Articles of Incorporation (Name Change) and Amendment to SBC Bylaw 14. Entities and Auxiliary of the Convention

The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommends the Southern Baptist Convention approve and consent to the amendment of the Restated Articles of Incorporation of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; and should the Convention approve the foregoing recommendation, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommends the Southern Baptist Convention act in the first of the required two successive annual meetings (pursuant to SBC Bylaw 37) to amend SBC Bylaw 14.A.(2) to change “Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary” to “Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention” to reflect the new name of the seminary as shown in the proposed Restated Articles of Incorporation.

CERTIFICATE of RESTATED ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION of GOLDEN GATE BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY GATEWAY SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

1. The name of the corporation is Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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SBC Bylaw 14. Entities and Auxiliary of the Convention

14. Entities and Auxiliary of the Convention:

A. The entities of the Convention are as follows:
(2) Institutions: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana; Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, California; Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ontario, California; The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Inc., Wake Forest, North Carolina; Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri.


Electronic Voting and Quorum Issues Addressed

Southern Baptist Convention

Messengers raise their ballots during a business session at the 2014 SBC annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Van Payne.

The SBC Executive Committee voted in its February 17 meeting to recommend bylaw amendments to the Southern Baptist Convention for the potential use of electronic voting devices in the convention hall and to establish a quorum on all SBC business matters as those present at the time of a vote.

In recommending SBC bylaw amendments to allow for electronic voting devices in the convention hall, the Executive Committee added a notation stipulating that their use could begin after this year’s meeting in Columbus. The bylaw change notes that voting by “ballot” may include electronic voting that protects “the integrity of the voting process and provides for messengers’ votes to remain confidential.”

According to background materials provided to Executive Committee members, EC staff assessed the viability and expense of taking and counting votes by messengers for the past several years. Following this assessment, the EC reported electronic voting could allow the ability to schedule elections closer together, “make the best and most efficient use of time in annual meeting programming,” and provide for “messengers’ votes to remain confidential.”

In recommending a quorum for transacting matters of Convention business as “those present” at the time of a ballot, the Executive Committee retained bylaw requirements that a messenger must be present at the time a vote is taken in order to participate. Voting by proxy is not permitted. The tabulation of all votes is under the supervision of the registration secretary.

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(Note: Recommended changes are abridged in this issue of SBC LIFE in order to highlight only the changes in the proposal. Addition of text is indicated by underline and deletion of text is indicated by strikethrough.)

SBC Bylaw Amendments Regarding Voting
SBC Bylaw 10. Election of Officers, replacing SBC Bylaw 34. Voting and SBC Bylaw 35. Quorum, and Renumbering of Successive Bylaws

The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommends the Southern Baptist Convention amend SBC Bylaw 10. Election of Officers to include, adjust, and replace the provisions of SBC Bylaw 34. Voting and SBC Bylaw 35. Quorum as follows, and that the successive SBC Bylaws be renumbered accordingly, effective upon adjournment of the 2015 annual meeting.

10. Election of Officers and Voting:

B. Election of officers shall be by ballot, provided however that if there is only one (1) nomination, and no other person desires to nominate, the registration secretary or anyone designated for the purpose may cast the ballot of the Convention. If an officer does not receive a majority of votes cast on the first ballot, subsequent ballots shall carry the names of those who are included in the top 50 percent of the total votes cast in the previous ballot.

D. The president, in consultation with the registration secretary, shall appoint tellers. The tabulation of any vote by the tellers or otherwise (such as by electronic means) shall be under the supervision of the registration secretary. The president or registration secretary shall announce election and voting results to the Convention as soon as practicable.

E. Any materials, instructions, and/or devices necessary to vote shall be made available to the messengers. Printed ballots shall be provided each messenger upon registering. The chairperson of the tellers shall report the vote to the secretaries. The tabulation of the vote on all issues and elections will be announced to the Convention as soon as possible by the secretaries.

F. No proxy voting is permitted. All propositions, decisions, and choices shall be by a majority vote of the messengers present and voting in person, except where provisions have been made for a greater than majority vote. Except for officer elections, votes may be taken by ballot, by voice, by rising, by show of hands, by common consent, or by some other acceptable method. “Ballot” shall include electronic voting that protects the integrity of the voting process and provides for messengers’ votes to remain confidential.

G. The quorum for conducting business at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention shall be those present.

34. Voting (wording moved above to Bylaw 10.F.)

35. Quorum: The quorum for conducting business during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention shall be a minimum of 25 percent of those duly registered and seated messengers.


NAMB Asks for Ministry Assignment Expansion

NAMB

Doug Carver (right), executive director of the North American Mission Board’s chaplaincy team, leads a discussion of religious freedom issues with fifty-five Southern Baptist senior military chaplains. NAMB President Kevin Ezell (second from right) participated in the conference call along with Russell D. Moore (not pictured), president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Photo by Susan Whitley/NAMB.

Chaplain-led ministry near overseas military bases someday may become part of the North American Mission Board’s church planting outreach if a proposed ministry amendment is approved during the June 16–17 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The SBC Executive Committee approved a recommendation to be presented to messengers in Columbus, Ohio, to enable NAMB to “provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the International Mission Board in assisting churches to plant churches for specific groups outside the United States and Canada.

This language mirrors the change in IMB’s ministry statement approved by SBC messengers in 2011, which states,

“Assist churches by evangelizing persons, planting Baptist churches, and nurturing church planting movements among all people groups outside the United States and Canada; and, provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the North American Mission Board in assisting churches to reach unreached and underserved people groups within the United States and Canada.

EC leaders said the possibility of military chaplains facing religious liberty constraints is a key factor for the recommendation, though the wording allows for other contingencies that may prompt future NAMB/IMB overseas cooperation.

NAMB trustees approved seeking the proposed amendment in February 2014, making formal request last fall for the Executive Committee to consider it. The SBC’s Organization Manual requires that changes to ministry statements of the SBC’s entities be approved by the EC as well as a majority vote of messengers at an SBC annual meeting.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell, in an email to the SBC entity presidents and state Baptist convention executives, explained the rationale behind NAMB’s request for the ministry statement change.

“This request is being driven by two specific challenges,” he wrote.

First, as the climate in the United States becomes “more hostile toward religious liberties,” NAMB wants to be positioned to “take proactive steps should large numbers of our military chaplains decide they can no longer serve the military in good conscience,” he wrote. “If that becomes the case, we would like the freedom to plant churches adjacent to military bases outside the United States with the specific purpose of serving the US military population.”

Second, since NAMB is encouraging its church planters to adopt one of the unengaged, unreached people groups identified by IMB, “If they are approved through IMB’s process to do this, we are providing funding for the planter and a member of his church to make a trip overseas to visit that people group,” he wrote.

In either instance, Ezell said in his email, “we would proceed with a new plant only with IMB’s support” and, in cases of church planters ministering to unreached people groups, “our planters would work through IMB’s process.”

IMB President David Platt, in a January 15 letter to Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, reported, “The leadership of IMB gladly affirms and supports this recommendation as a step toward further cooperation between the two entities for the sake of the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.”

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(Note: Recommended changes are abridged in this issue of SBC LIFE in order to highlight only the changes in the proposal. Addition of text is indicated by underline and deletion of text is indicated by strikethrough.)

North American Mission Board:
Request for Approval of Ministry Statement Amendment

The Executive Committee recommends the Southern Baptist Convention adopt the following amendment to the ministry statement of The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention [as printed in the SBC Organization Manual].

NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD
of the Southern Baptist Convention

MINISTRIES

1. Assisting churches in planting healthy, multiplying, evangelistic Southern Baptist churches in the United States and Canada; and provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the International Mission Board in assisting churches to plant churches for specific groups outside the United States and Canada.

Work in partnership with churches, associations, and state conventions, and the International Mission Board to start new congregations with a priority to reach population centers and underserved people groups; lead a missional movement to encourage Southern Baptist churches to become church planting congregations.

The articles above are adapted from Baptist Press news reports by BP Editor Art Toalston and other BP staff, published following the February 16–17, 2015, SBC Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.


Convention to Consider Second Vote on Proposed Amendment to Article III of the SBC Constitution

Southern Baptist Convention

Southern Baptist Convention messengers cast votes during a session of the two-day 2014 SBC annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Van Payne.

Messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, will vote on a second reading of a proposed SBC constitutional change on Article III. The proposed change comes in response to a motion made at the 2013 SBC annual meeting in Houston, Texas, to update the provisions of Article III regarding qualifications for seating messengers from cooperating churches for participation in each year’s SBC annual meeting—the sixteenth motion on this article in thirty-five years.

Prior to last year’s annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, the Executive Committee adopted a draft proposal at its February 2014 meeting and circulated the wording of that proposal through Baptist Press and SBC LIFE. Then-SBC president Fred Luter asked the chairman of the Executive Committee to prepare a question and answer about the proposal, which was carried in the Pre-Convention issue of SBC LIFE in April 2014.

The Executive Committee also provided a dedicated email address for Southern Baptists to submit questions, concerns, and/or comments concerning the proposal. The EC received valuable input from numerous Southern Baptists and monitored conversations on Southern Baptist-related blogs and through the Baptist state convention papers.

In response to several concerns raised, the EC amended the draft proposal at its June 9, 2014, meeting. The following day, messengers to the SBC annual meeting overwhelmingly adopted the proposal on its first reading with no questions from the floor and without debate. In order to officially revise Article III, the recommendation must be approved by messengers a second time during this year’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

In preparation for the last year’s annual meeting, SBC LIFE published two question-and-answer articles with then-EC chairman Ernest Easley about the proposed recommendation. The first article, covering several pages in the Pre-Convention issue, addressed fourteen questions. The second article, in the Summer issue, addressed two additional questions raised through email submissions and related discussion on blogs and in state papers. The full text of the questions and the answers given by Easley may be accessed at the following internet addresses: www.SBCLife.net/ProposedRevisions and www.SBCLife.net/Article3Update. The news article that accompanied the initial Q&A may be found at www.SBCLife.net/Article3Review.

Describing the recommendation as “small church friendly” before last year’s messengers, Easley walked messengers through the Executive Committee’s process of deliberation.

“The Executive Committee floated the recommendation out across the Convention the last several months in order to build consensus which has really proved beneficial in the current recommendation that we have today,” Easley said just before messengers voted in favor of the revision.

Easley addressed initial concerns with the recommendation that involved the perception by some that it negatively impacted smaller churches. He noted that most of these congregations “give proportionately to the Cooperative Program” and that the recommendation now includes a reference to CP support.

The recommendation also addressed concerns that earlier proposed Article III revisions could have been interpreted to “impose a confession of faith upon a church,” Easley, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, said. That perception “was never our intent,” he added.

Easley said the wording in the first part of the recommendation—No. 1. (1) of Article III—was adjusted. The amended text now reads, “Has a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith.” Easley said the words “closely identifies” were taken directly from the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

Article III currently states that churches in friendly cooperation with the Convention can send one additional messenger for every 250 members or for each $250 per year “paid to the work of the Convention.” The $250 amount dates back to 1888.

Under the new proposal approved by messengers, each cooperating church that contributed to Convention causes during the preceding fiscal year would automatically qualify for two messengers.

“In the years where records have been kept, most churches send two messengers,” Easley said at the time. “The second largest category of representation,” Easley said, “is of churches that send only one messenger.”

Further, “pastors are often accompanied by their wives,” he said. “We thought it reasonable to encourage them to come as a couple, no matter the size of the church or the amount of the church’s gifts to the Convention.”

According to new proposal, a cooperating church would be able to send additional messengers by one of two options, whichever allows them to send the greater number of messengers up to a maximum of twelve messengers per church:

  • One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts through any combination of gifts through the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for Convention causes, or to any SBC entity.
  • One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the same combination of the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for Convention causes, or to any SBC entity.

The $6,000 figure was selected by adjusting for inflation and other factors since 1888, Easley said in the published question and answer. The amount is meant to be comparable to the $250 figure adopted in 1888.

For those who may not have seen the 2014 discussion in SBC LIFE or who were unable to attend the 2014 SBC annual meeting, the questions and answers are still posted at the sites listed above. They have also been turned into a PDF and are posted on the SBC Annual Meeting App under “Resources.”

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Proposed Amendment to Article III to Be Considered by SBC Messengers at the June 16–17, 2015, Meeting

Article III. Composition: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of Baptist churches in cooperation with the Convention. The following subparagraphs describe the Convention’s current standards and method of determining the maximum number of messengers the Convention will recognize from each cooperating church to attend the Convention’s annual meeting.

  1. The Convention will only deem a church to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention, and sympathetic with its purposes and work (i.e., a “cooperating” church as that term is used in the Convention’s governing documents) which:
    1. Has a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith. (By way of example, churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.)
    2. Has formally approved its intention to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention.(By way of example, the regular filing of the annual report requested by the Convention would be one indication of such cooperation.)
    3. Has made undesignated, financial contribution(s) through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity during the fiscal year preceding.
  2. Under the terms above, the Convention will recognize to participate in its annual meeting two (2) messengers from each cooperating church, and such additional messengers as are permitted below.
  3. The Convention will recognize additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of the options described below. Whichever method allows the church the greater number of messengers shall apply:
    1. One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity; or
    2. One additional messenger for each $6,000 which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity.
  4. The messengers shall be appointed and certified by their church to the Convention, but the Convention will not recognize more than twelve (12) from any cooperating church.
  5. Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he or she is appointed.
  6. If a church experiences a natural disaster or calamitous event and, as a result, the church is not qualified to appoint as many messengers as the church could appoint for the Convention’s annual meeting immediately before the event, the church’s pastor or an authorized church representative may, for no more than the three (3) annual meetings after the event, certify the facts to the registration secretary and obtain the same number of messengers it could have certified for the Convention’s annual meeting immediately before the event.

 


Adapted and updated from Baptist Press reports by Shawn Hendricks and David Roach published on June 10 and June 12, 2014.

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May 2015 Edition
Volume 23, Issue 4
May 2015