Messengers at 2014 Annual Meeting will consider Bylaws revisions

July 15, 2014
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Messengers at 2014 annual meeting will consider bylaws revisions:
Election of a president-elect, and Cooperative Program support

Messengers to November’s annual meeting in Columbia will vote on separate recommendations to change the convention’s bylaws, allowing for the election of a president-elect, and giving clarification to what it means to be a “bona fide” contributor to the convention’s work based on Cooperative Program giving.

These recommended changes to the convention bylaws were introduced to messengers at the 2013 annual meeting in Columbia.

Messengers this year will also hear the first reading of recommendations that will change how future amendments to the convention bylaws are considered and communicated.

The 2014 annual meeting will be Tuesday-Wednesday, Nov. 11-12, at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia.

Electing a president-elect

If approved, messengers to the 2015 annual meeting will elect a candidate to serve a one-year term as president-elect of the convention. A president, first and second vice presidents, recording secretary, and registration secretary will also be elected. The convention staff’s executive director-treasurer serves as the treasurer of the convention.

Beginning with the 2016 annual meeting, a convention president will not be elected as the president-elect will assume that position. In 2016, election of the president-elect will replace the annual election of a convention president.

If, during his term office, the president must resign, the first vice-president will become the convention president, and the second vice-president will become the first vice-president. The position of president-elect will be unaffected.

During his year of service, the president-elect will have access to all convention-related meetings where the president has access.

The recommendation is a change to Article IV of the convention’s Bylaws, Part One.

Bill Rigsby, pastor of North Anderson Baptist Church in Anderson, and chairman of the 2014 Bylaws Committee, said, “In 2013, when this was originally discussed, we felt that our year-to-year change in the presidency could be more streamlined if we had a president-elect who could serve a year before becoming president.

“As we have it, a president must be elected and then spend time meeting with the previous president, gathering information and counsel before moving forward,” Rigsby said. “With the change in the bylaws, the president-elect, becoming president, doesn’t lose any ground and can move right along.”

Brad Atkins, pastor of Powdersville First Baptist Church and a past convention president, said he personally favors the change and agreed with Rigsby.

“This change will allow the incoming president to see what will be expected, begin to get involved alongside the convention’s Executive Board, and also have input into the meeting at which he will preside,” Atkins said. “I do believe it allow for easier and more efficient transition between leaders.”

D.J. Horton, pastor of Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Moore, said, “Most state conventions elect presidents to a two-year term, and even the Southern Baptist Convention ceremonially elects a president for two consecutive one-year terms.

“In South Carolina, it’s tough to be a local pastor and a full-time convention president,” he said. “For me, it’s been good because both my church and family have been very gracious about my time. This proposal allows for a president-elect to shadow a current president to better understand the role and prepare for it.”

Horton said, “It’s a little misleading what a president can really accomplish. The chairman of our Executive Board has more authority because he serves a five-year term as a board member and is involved with the convention staff on a 365-day basis. A president serves 12 months, and he needs to be in a position to make the best use of all of that 12 months. Shadowing the president for a year allows that preparation.”

Cooperative Program support will be expected

If approved, Bylaws Part One, Article II, will define a “bona fide contributor to the convention’s work” as including “a monetary contribution to the Cooperative Program.” Churches have been given additional messengers to the annual meeting for each $1,000 contributed to convention work, and the bylaws change specifies that these contributions be through the Cooperative Program during the fiscal year of the annual meeting.

Likewise, in Article III, those serving on the convention’s Executive Board as institutional trustees and convention committees will come from churches that have made “a monetary contribution to the Cooperative Program.”

Except for existing language regarding additional messengers based on $1,000 increments, the recommendations do not specify a minimum contribution amount to be a “bona fide contributor to the convention’s work.”

Rigsby, chairman of the Bylaws Committee, said, “I believe every church that participates in South Carolina Baptist Convention life needs to have the privilege of being in the convention because they participate in Cooperative Program giving.

“We appeal to churches to give, but what we are saying is this: ‘To have a stand in the convention you must participate in the Cooperative Program.’ ”

Rigsby applauded the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) giving by churches to various convention agencies and causes, but he said, “We are strictly talking here about the Cooperative Program, which is the heartbeat of our cooperative work together as Southern Baptists.”

Steven McClain, pastor at Beaumont Baptist Church in Spartanburg and a member of the convention Bylaws Committee, said, “Our South Carolina history shows that we Baptists are better together, and that’s why we support the Cooperative Program. But, there seems to be some who are involved, don’t support the Cooperative Program, and yet have messengers to the convention.

“We also have a few churches, big and small, who are saying, ‘Why should we give to the Cooperative Program? We can keep our money and invest it in our own missions work.’ That’s an attitude that doesn’t speak to cooperating with other convention churches in missions and evangelism.” McClain will present the recommendation at the 2014 annual meeting on behalf of the Bylaws Committee.

Marshall Blalock, chairman of the Executive Board’s Budget, Finance & Audit Committee and pastor of First Baptist Church, of Charleston, said, “The by-law change offers a clarification of what it means to be a ‘bona fide contributor’ to the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Support for the Cooperative Program represents an authentic commitment of churches to the mission and work of the convention. The suggested change re-emphasizes the vital relationship of churches collaborating together for the sake of the gospel.”

Convention president Horton said, “We have some wonderful churches that range in their percentage giving to the Cooperative Program, and we rejoice in whatever giving comes to the Cooperative Program. We rejoice in all of it. There is room at the table for every church that believes the Cooperative Program has value, but we really don’t benefit including churches in decision-making if they aren’t supporting anything.”

Bylaw changes to be heard in 2014 and considered in 2015

In addition to action items surrounding the president-elect and Cooperative Program giving, messengers in 2014 will hear a first reading on amendments to Bylaws Article XII and XIII.

Within Article XII, amendments to the bylaws, coming from the floor of the annual meeting, must be presented before the final session of the annual meeting with two-thirds of the messengers present and voting when the amendment is introduced. Nothing has been recommended that changes the requirement for a first and second reading of amendments at different meetings of the convention, annual or special meetings.

Also, within Article XII, a recommended change allows for pre-publication of an amendment to appear 30 days prior to a vote in a print or electronic issue of The Baptist Courier or on the Courier’s Website. Any of the three advertising venues will suffice as notice to South Carolina Baptists of a proposed change in the bylaws.

The language in Bylaws Article XIII is also changed to reflect this recommendation.

Keywords: ByLaws , annual meeting , messengers , South Carolina Baptist Convention

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