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Resolutions Committee revisions to be presented at SBC meeting
Posted on Feb 21, 2002 | by Art Toalston

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EDITORS' NOTE: This story replaces one with the same headline in BP on 2/20/02.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--New procedures relating to the Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention will be recommended during the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.

Among the proposed changes approved during the SBC Executive Committee's Feb. 18-19 sessions in Nashville, Tenn.:

-- The Resolutions Committee will be selected 75 days prior to the SBC annual meeting, instead of the current 45 days.

-- Proposed resolutions may be submitted as early as April 15 but no later than 15 days prior to the SBC annual meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider submissions. No resolutions could be submitted during the annual meeting.

-- Proposed resolutions must be accompanied by a letter from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC annual meeting certifying that the individual submitting the resolution is a member in good standing.

-- Proposed resolutions preferably would be submitted by e-mail or mailed to the Resolutions Committee in care of the SBC Executive Committee. The drafts must be typewritten, titled, dated and include complete contact information for the person and his or her church.

-- No person will be allowed to submit more than three resolutions per year.

-- If a properly submitted resolution is not forwarded by the Resolutions Committee to the SBC annual meeting, the author could seek a two-thirds vote of messengers to bring the proposed resolution to the convention floor.

-- The 10-member Resolutions Committee would include at least two members who were members of the previous year's committee.

Several facets of the proposed changes were noted to Executive Committee members prior to their unanimous voice vote.

Jim Butler, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Southaven, Miss., and a member of the Executive Committee's administrative subcommittee, said the proposed changes will give the Resolutions Committee a longer time frame in which to deal with resolutions.

Under the current process, he said, "you only have a few hours and a few days -- it's really a crunch time -- and sometimes you don't have the opportunity to deal with and pray over and think through resolutions as much as you would like."

Additionally, the new process "gives the people who submit resolutions a longer period of time" to draft well-thought-out proposed stances for the SBC, Butler said.

And, he noted, "At present, there is no continuity at all" on the Resolutions Committee. "Each year there's a brand new group of 10 people who meet. They have no idea of the mindset or the rationale of the previous committee."

Butler noted there will be no change in the Resolutions Committee's required reporting in the Convention Bulletin on its action related to all resolutions properly submitted for consideration.

Bill Merrell, the Executive Committee's vice president for convention relations, also reacted positively to the recommended changes. "Having served now for six years as staff liaison to the Resolutions Committee, I can say by experience that a recurrent concern has been the limited time the committee has to deal with resolutions that are submitted from the floor. It had become very nearly a practical impossibility to give due consideration to resolutions that were submitted during the annual meeting, if the committee had had no prior opportunity for research or reflection."

Merrell also noted, "Aside from giving the committee more time to consider resolutions, I also expect Southern Baptists to see these changes as affording them more ability to be heard. As it stands now, resolutions can only be submitted by messengers in person at the annual meeting, and during a five-hour window. But under the proposal, it would be possible for any Southern Baptist in good standing in his local church to submit resolution proposals over the several months prior to the convention. They will also be able to watch the proceedings over the Internet to see how messengers respond to their suggestions without actually attending."

August Boto, the Executive Committee's vice president for convention policy, agreed. "These suggested amendments allow greater access to rank and file Southern Baptists. There may be a significantly greater number of resolutions submitted, but the Resolutions Committee will also have two weeks to consider them rather than just a couple of days."

Merrell also noted that there are other aspects of the changes that shift more power to the people. "Formerly, the established practice of the convention was to grant the Resolutions Committee authority over which resolutions were to be acted on by the messengers," he said. "The suggested amendments modify that authority by specifying that the convention can by a two-thirds vote require the committee to report out a particular resolution. While we believe that such an action would probably be rare, formerly there was no provision for that kind of review. Under the proposal, there would be a specific mechanism should the messengers agree in sufficient that the committee has erred.

"If the changes are adopted, we would naturally expect to discover additional adjustments that would have to be made to address unanticipated problems," Merrell said. "But in assessing those adjustments we would want to stick with the overarching goals of providing more access by our people, more time for the Resolutions Committee to produce and present quality resolutions to the convention, and a greater comprehension by the world at large of who we are, the God we serve, and how wonderful he is."

In other business during their two-day meeting, Executive Committee members:

-- approved, with no fanfare, the creation of an SBC Funding Study Committee "in light of the financial challenges to the seminaries," stemming in part from more than $4 million in cutbacks enacted last year by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The committee, whose members were not announced Feb. 19, is to present a report at the Executive Committee's Sept. 16-17 meeting.

-- elected Marty Odom, a realtor and member of Quail Springs Baptist Church, Edmond, Okla., as secretary of the Executive Committee. C.J. Bordeaux, senior pastor of West Monroe Baptist Church, Monroe, N.C., and a former president of the state convention's Pastors' Conference, also was nominated. Odom succeeds Ann Frazier of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., who died Jan. 1 of cancer.

-- elected two individuals to fill vacancies on the SBC Committee on Nominations: Damon Jones, pastor of Old Town Hill Baptist Church, Muncie, Ind., and Bill Hall, a member of Trinity Baptist Church, Cambridge, Ohio.

-- approved two Executive Committee members to serve as directors of the Southern Baptist Foundation: Jim R. Daniel, a banker from Oklahoma City, and Ronald E. Williams, a banker from Vidalia, Ga., beginning in June.

-- approved the selection of Nashville, Tenn., for the 2005 SBC annual meeting on June 21-22 and Greensboro, N.C., for the 2006 annual meeting on June 13-14.

-- approved a recommendation to the SBC annual meeting of $176,962,402 as the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year.

-- approved a recommendation to the SBC annual meeting of $7,305,652 as the Southern Baptist Convention Operating Budget for 2002-03, to include such Executive Committee initiatives as Empowering Kingdom Growth, which was endorsed by the committee during its Feb. 19 sessions; supporting the ongoing work of the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life; developing strategies for expanding the subscription base and influence of SBC Life, journal of the Executive Committee; continued enhancement of the SBC Internet site, www.sbc.net, and related sites; and sponsoring an annual Baptist Press student journalism conference.

-- approved a 1.6 percent increase in the Executive Committee staff salary structure.

-- responded to a motion referred to the Executive Committee during the 2001 SBC annual meeting to direct the committee "to work toward providing financial aid, in the form of grants for Ph.D. studies, to African Americans seeking teaching or writing careers with Southern Baptist Convention institutions, general boards, or commissions."

The Executive Committee responded that it "recognizes the great need to enroll African-American and ethnic students in Southern Baptist seminary doctoral research programs to prepare for teaching in Southern Baptist life"; that it "acknowledges and commends the strategies already being implemented at SBC seminaries to attract such students"; and that it requests SBC churches "to encourage qualified African-American and ethnic graduate students to attend SBC seminaries."

-- received as information that C. Barry McCarty will again be asked to serve as chief parliamentarian during this June's SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.
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