Messengers gave the necessary second-year approval to revise qualifications for churches to send messengers to the annual meeting. In order to confirm the recommendation, it needed to be reaffirmed by messengers for the second time during this year’s SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
Describing the recommendation as “small-church friendly,” last year’s EC chairman Ernest Easley told messengers the proposal to revise Article III of the SBC Constitution—with related adjustments to Article XIV and SBC Bylaw 8—was a response to a motion from the 2013 annual meeting in Houston that requested updating messenger qualifications.
The amendments took effect on June 17 at the end of the annual meeting.
Under the proposal approved by messengers, each cooperating church that contributes to Convention causes during the preceding fiscal year will automatically qualify for two messengers.
The Convention will recognize additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of two options:
- One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts which the church contributed in the preceding fiscal year through any combination of Cooperative Program gifts, gifts given to SBC work through the Executive Committee, or gifts made directly to any SBC entity; or
- One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributed in the preceding fiscal year through the same means as outlined above.
Also under the new proposal, churches can now qualify to send up to twelve messengers.
While one messenger voiced concerns of increased cost and possibly hurting small-church participation during annual meetings, messengers overwhelmingly approved the recommendation.
EC chairman Mike Routt noted the amendment does not inhibit people from coming, but rather invites more to the table by allowing any cooperating church to send two messengers.
“We understand that the majority of our Southern Baptist churches are smaller churches,” he noted. “We also understand that on the average, two persons come per church. So we have gone from one member, one messenger from each church to two.”
Routt also said the reason for increasing the amount from $250 to $6,000 was an adjustment to the rate of inflation. “In 1888, for each messenger to the Convention, there was $250 given,” he said. “Today, many years later, 126 years later, the figure $6,000 was the same amount of money that it was in 1888.”