It has taken a while to sort through the email responses, suggestions and comments that were made when I originally wrote an article proposing constitutional amendments to be presented at the BGCT annual meeting in Houston this fall.  There are several issues which have come to the forefront, related to my intention to make these proposals, to which I have given much consideration.  The advice, in most cases, was good, the suggestions as to how to make sure the proposals are not derailed by referral or some other parliamentary maneuver, excellent, the offers of assistance genuine and, I can assure you, your active involvement is desired. 

The two main concerns that have been raised at this point have to do with the trustee boards at the educational institutions and the inclusion of spouses in the term limits.  Though this is still a work in progress, the proposals will take into consideration the fact that the educational institutions rely heavily on their trustees for recruitment of students and fundraising, and that limiting their terms might hurt this effort.  We will work on the wording of this particular proposal to avoid having that occur.  Several of the schools have the ability to name either some or most of their trustees, and those individuals would not be affected by this proposal.  For the others, we are working on a way of wording the proposal so that it would not have a negative effect on them.  That’s why the proposals were announced in advance, and why advice was considered so valuable.

It has also been pointed out that the proposal to limit the number of BGCT related appointments to one member of a particular church at a time would, in most cases, keep spouses from serving at the same time, and that this would spread the leadership out over a broad enough segment of churches that the few spouses who might be selected by a team of elected officers would not make much of a difference.  That will also be taken into consideration.

One thing is clear.  There are many people, including many church leaders, who have expressed a favorable opinion about this kind of arrangement to broaden the leadership base of the convention, and push those who are responsible for committee and trustee board selection to dig deep and find those people who are generally passed over because they don’t have some kind of denominational-political pedigree or because they are not related to or connected by their school relationships to those who have the influence to put their name in the hat.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of three quarters of a million people sit in our church pews, participate in our Bible study classes and are involved in the life of their BGCT affiliated church, and that is more than enough for a rich deposit of experience, enthusiasm and ability to provide the BGCT with all the leadership it could ever need without ever repeating a single name on a single board or committee. 

It has also been pointed out that this will be an impossible task without some kind of organization.  So be it.  But it will be an organization that exists for the purpose of bringing these proposals to the BGCT, and doing what it can to get them passed, and after that, it will dissolve.  I have no interest in promoting denominational politics.  This will not be a liberal, moderate, conservative or fundamentalist organizational effort.  It will be an effort which has the future of the BGCT in mind, a desire to see more people involved in leadeship and the benefits of the new ideas and fresh spiritual perspective that they can bring.  It is not about control, it is about making the BGCT something which does not have to be controlled by an agenda, or by the current system of fiefs and favors which has, by all evidence available, been counterproductive to the Baptist goal of advancing the gospel of Jesus. 

The bottom line is that your interest, and your favorable opinion of these proposals, whatever final form they may take, will not matter much unless you come to Houston and participate in the convention.  If you are interested in doing that, then put the BGCT dates, November 16-17 and be here.  If you would like to participate in the planning, and help promote these proposals, please email me at  For those of you who live close enough to come to a meeting, one is being planned for late August here in Houston.  When those plans are finalized, I’ll post an announcement.


About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

2 responses

  1. Ken Coffee says:

    Lee, you wrote, “….how to make sure the proposals are not derailed by referral or some other parliamentary maneuver….” Referreal is not generally seen as a parliamentary maneuver. It is a safeguard to keep emotional motions from being foisted upon the convention messengers, taking advantage of them for a momentary fulfillment of an emotional need. Whatever motion is presented will almost invariably be referred to a committee, unless that motion has come through that committee, which is how it should be. That is particularly true of constitutional ammendments. When you start monkeying with the constitution, it should not be easy to do. It should take time and much deliberation. The same is true in a church situation. Constitutions should not be easy to ammend.

  2. Jack Matthews says:

    I’m not familiar with the BGCT constitution, so I can’t comment on its procedures for being amended, but if I understand parliamentary procedure correctly, referral can most definitely be considered a “maneuver,” depending on the circumstances. The chair, or an order of business committee, has the power to make a referral. That ruling can be overturned from the floor but it takes a two thirds vote to do that. Anything that might be controversial, or in the case of Baptist conventions I’ve observed in recent years, that goes against what the group in power wants to do, usually gets referred, where the power group can then rationalize why they do not want the messengers to vote on it.

    I believe the procedure for amending the constitition of the Tennessee Baptist Convention requires a two thirds vote in favor of the motion at the convention where it is made, and a two thirds vote at the subsequent annual meeting. If that’s the case in the BGCT, then you have your work cut out for you, and whatever organization you form to accomplish the task will have to be active for more than a year.