PHOENIX (BP)–Messengers offered 17 motions June 14 during the opening day of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. All but one of the motions, however, were referred to SBC entities or ruled out of order during the subsequent business sessions of the convention. The remaining motion was referred by messengers for a vote at the 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans.
A motion by Keith Rogers from Santan Baptist Church on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Chandler, Ariz., called for the Committee on the Order of Business to reinstitute at least one evening session, preferably on Tuesday evening, for the annual meeting. According to Rogers, “many of our lay leaders, including some from the church that I pastor, and bivocational pastors who could only attend an evening session, were not offered that opportunity this year.”
Rogers, in the same motion, said a missionary appointment service should be a part of that evening session. The Committee on the Order of Business moved that the motion be referred for consideration in connection with the 2012 SBC annual meeting. Messengers approved the motion to refer.
Eleven motions were automatically referred because they dealt with the internal operations or ministries of SBC entities. Several were referred to LifeWay Christian Resources. Those included:
— A motion from Tim Overton of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., requesting that LifeWay Christian Resources be asked to consider creating materials to equip fathers to lead families in regular home devotionals.
— A motion from Craig Thomas from Whitwell (Tenn.) First Baptist Church asking LifeWay Christian Resources to reinstate disclaimers when they sell “The Shack” because the book undermines or opposes articles two and four of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Those articles pertain to the Trinity and salvation. In 2009, LifeWay posted in stores a discernment notice for readers of The Shack, primarily because of the fictional book’s depictions of different modes of God’s existence — namely the representation of God as a woman. The notice about the book later was removed.
— A motion from Channing Kilgore of South Whitwell Baptist Church in Whitwell, Tenn., to recommend LifeWay Christian Resources publish the criteria the entity uses in the selection and sale of “biblically-related materials.”
— A motion from George Kelly of Memorial Baptist Church in Killeen, Texas, calling for the SBC to address the ministry and teaching needs of senior adults, “the fastest growing segment of our society.”
— A motion from Stephen Haffly of Grace Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C., requesting messengers to encourage publishers, including LifeWay Christian Resources, to make electronic editions of academic works available for electronic devices such as Kindle, Nook and iPad. Haffly noted this would benefit students by making the literature more easily accessible and reduce production costs.
— A motion from Young McCann of Journey Christian Fellowship in San Luis Obispo, Calif., requesting the SBC to study issues related to human sexuality — namely pornography and homosexuality — in the culture and in churches and provide guidelines for church members, church leaders and convention leaders to promote Gospel-centered sexuality to educate, train and restore God’s people to bring maximum glory to God. McCann’s motion also was referred to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
— A motion from Mickey Porter of Mountain View Baptist Church in Layton, Utah, to move the primary responsibility for ministry to university and college students from LifeWay Christian Resources to the North American Mission Board was referred to both entities.
— A second motion from George Kelly, asking the North American Mission Board to develop a strategy and resources to assist small and struggling churches “to come alive by providing funds to call full-time pastors,” also was referred to the North American Mission Board.
Referred to the SBC Executive Committee were:
— A motion from James Goforth of New Life Baptist Church in Florissant, Mo., that the Executive Committee investigate and develop a plan and system for online participation and voting of messengers across the country who cannot participate in the annual meeting in person. Goforth said this would broaden the involvement of small churches, bivocational and ethnic pastors, and international churches of the SBC.
— A motion from Wiley Drake, pastor of Buena Park (Calif.) Baptist Church, to recommend to the local arrangements committee that the prayer room remain open 24 hours a day during the remainder of the convention and future conventions.
RULED OUT OF ORDER
Three motions were ruled out of order by the Committee on the Order of Business because they were in the nature of resolutions, calling for the convention to express an opinion without taking substantive action. The time for submitting resolutions also had passed. Ruled out of order for this reason were:
— A motion in support of Israel offered by Adam Sanders, pastor of Denton Baptist Church in Cosby, Tenn.
— A motion from Wiley Drake to direct the newly elected president of the convention to send a letter of “thanksgiving and praise to God” for Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his leadership in calling America to a day of prayer and fasting Aug. 6.
— A motion, also from Wiley Drake, to direct the newly elected president of the convention to send a letter to President Barack Obama “requesting, that as a professing Christian, he as president call the United States of America to a special day of solemn assembly and prayer for our nation,” as Perry had done.
Wiley Drake also made a motion directing the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to investigate and report back to the convention the use of Social Security money under Title 4D (Child Support) and Title 4E (Child Protective Services), originally intended “for the welfare of children and now which has become child abuse, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Federal Appeals.” This motion was ruled out of order because the work of an SBC entity is directed only by its board of trustees.
According to SBC bylaws, “Any motion which seeks to have the Convention exercise authority of an entity’s board is not in order. Messengers may offer motions which request, but not direct, that an entity take an action.” Drake later returned to the microphone and offered the same motion, but striking the word “direct” and replacing it with the word “request.” That motion was referred to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Kent Cochran, messenger from Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, Mo., called for the SBC to create a special “Unity Committee” to review, evaluate and make recommendations about the perception and realities of the impact and implementation of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force’s recommendations during the past year by SBC entities, state conventions and related organizations and networks. Cochran, in the same motion, called for the proposed committee, comprised of 21 presidential appointees, to make their findings public for all Southern Baptists no later than 12 months after the committee provides its findings to the SBC.
That motion, however, was ruled out of order because a motion is not in order when it requests a new committee to fulfill the assignments of a standing committee. The 2010 convention assigned portions of the GCR report to the SBC Executive Committee.
Gregory Tomlin is a writer based in Fort Worth, Texas.