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Messengers approve EC recommendations, hear reports on 2022 motions

SBC Executive Committee officer Richard Spring oversees part of the EC's report to messengers June 14 at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Photo by Sonya Singh

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention Daily Bulletin will move online for 2024, with print editions remaining only if printing services are convenient.

Messengers approved the change during the June 14 SBC Executive Committee Report upon the recommendation of EC trustees.

“Efforts will be made to continue to produce the SBC Bulletin in print from, however,” the amendment reads, “should print form be unattainable for an overnight turnaround, the publication will be published online.”

Messengers approved the change in addition to passing the first approval of a constitutional change clarifying that the titles of pastor and elder may only be used in relation to men in churches. A second two-thirds approval by messengers is required at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting to confirm the change.

Regarding the online publication of the bulletin, the move required amendments to SBC Bylaw 7 regarding the daily bulletin, SBC Bylaw 5 regarding the annual Book of Reports, SBC Bylaw 20 regarding the Committee on Resolutions, and SBC Bylaw 26 affecting procedures regarding the bulletin’s publication.

The EC deemed the change, effective upon adjournment of the 2023 meeting, necessary because of “the volatility of the printing industry.”

The Executive Committee responded to three other motions referred to trustees from the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., but the EC’s responses required no vote from messengers.

Relationship between SBC messengers and SBC entity trustees

A motion originally submitted by 2022 messenger Jerry Watts of Mississippi asked the EC to obtain a legal opinion about the relationship between SBC messengers and SBC entity trustees. Watts had sought clarification of whether trustees were answerable to messengers, and what recourse, if any, messengers have regarding trustee action.

In response, the EC answered in the Wednesday Bulletin on June 14 “that it received as information the legal opinion regarding the relationship between Southern Baptist Convention messengers and appointed trustees of SBC entities and standing committees and that it further acknowledges the process and procedure for messengers to follow, if or when they are dissatisfied with the actions or decisions of appointed trustees or standing committee volunteers, as outlined in the Southern Baptist Convention governing documents.”

Request for EC to examine organizational structure

The EC responded to a 2022 motion submitted by Scott Smith of Indiana asking the EC to examine its organizational structure regarding how accountable paid EC staff are to EC trustees regarding the staff’s daily actions related to the Convention.

Smith had requested EC trustees “make any needed policy or structural changes that they can and that are within their purview or if necessary, bring any recommended changes in either how said staff operates or is structured before the convention at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2023.”

In response, the EC said it declined to study internal accountability, citing the sufficiency of current policies and procedures outlines in governing documents including the Business and Financial Plan, EC Bylaw 5.1, and the Personnel Policies of the Executive Committee. Additionally, the EC said, the personnel policies were recently revised in conjunction with EC officers.

Study on the impact of EC waiving attorney-client privilege

In another motion referred to trustees from 2022, Sherri Martin of Florida sought an update regarding the legal impact of waiving attorney-client privilege and asked that the update be made available no later than 30 days prior to the 2023 annual meeting.

The EC reported that it indeed sought a legal opinion of the impact of such a waiver, but found the “legal effect and impact on the Southern Baptist Convention of the Executive Committee’s waiver of the attorney-client privilege is an open matter that cannot be easily assessed at this point in time.”

The potential impact is unknown, the EC said in its response, because the ultimate outcome of open lawsuits is not known, the potential action of insurers cannot be projected and the U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating the SBC. The ultimate outcome of that investigation is unknown at the present time.