SBC Life Articles

Transition Plan for Covenant for a New Century







On June 19, 1997, the entities and ministries mandated by the Southern Baptist Convention in approving the Covenant for a New Century were "in place and functioning." The Implementation Task Force on behalf of the Executive Committee and with the assistance of the Program and Structure Study Committee and the various staffs and boards of SBC agencies, guided the process of restructuring. The task force was assigned:

To analyze, study and take actions necessary, including monitoring the transitional actions of all SBC entities, to facilitate the orderly and timely transitions approved by the SBC in adopting the Covenant for a New Century (Minutes, SBC Executive Committee, September 18-20, 1995).

The task force was asked to report to the Executive Committee its findings and recommendations so that the Executive Committee could fulfill its assignment from the SBC. Specific areas of inquiry were to be:

(1) legal actions necessary for implementation;

(2) cost/benefit analysis related to the Covenant for a New Century;

(3) disposition of physical assets of discontinued entities;

(4) disposition of financial assets of discontinued entities;

(5) policies for dealing with personnel affected by the reorganization; and

(6) procedures for implementing ministry assignments mandated by the Covenant for a New Century.

The ITF began its work immediately after its appointment by the Executive Committee on September 18, 1995. The ten-member task force developed a transition plan, as requested by the Executive Committee, and reported that plan to the Executive Committee and the SBC in June 1996. The transition plan outlined the steps, schedule, and spirit necessary for implementing the Covenant for a New Century, including the legal, business, financial, personnel, and ministry actions which would need to be accomplished.

Since June, 1996, the ITF met five times and held conference calls regularly. In March, 1997, ITF member Dr. John Yarbrough, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Perry, Georgia, became chairman of the ITF, replacing Dr. Bob Reccord who resigned because of the North American Mission Board Incorporators' interest in considering him as a nominee for the first president of NAMB. Throughout the year, the various members of the task force carried out particular assignments on behalf of the ITF involving many hours of meetings, travel, communication, and preparation of reports.

The Covenant for a New Century, adopted by the SBC in 1995, called for the elimination of several agencies of the SBC and the reassignment of many ministries to other agencies. Five agencies, the Stewardship Commission, the Education Commission, the Southern Baptist Foundation, the Southern Baptist Commission on the American Baptist Seminary, and the Historical Commission were to be completely dissolved with certain of their ministries assigned to existing SBC agencies.

The Radio & Television Commission, Brotherhood Commission, and the Home Mission Board were to be merged into a new agency called The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Inc., (NAMB), with their ministries reshaped into a coordinated and unified approach to evangelizing North America. Other changes not affecting the corporate existence of agencies were also approved in the Covenant for a New Century.


The following summarizes the status of the dissolved entities as of June 19, 1997.

Education Commission

The Education Commission ceased operations at the end of 1996. Administrative tasks required to manage the agency until legal merger with the Executive Committee on June 19, 1997, were performed by Executive Committee staff.

The 1996-1997 fiscal year (FY) budget for the Education Commission called for an annualized Cooperative Program allocation of $493,000. No future CP allocation is needed for ministries formerly performed by the Education Commission.

Stewardship Commission

On March 20, 1997, the trustees of the Stewardship Commission adopted the Articles of Merger with the Executive Committee which cause the dissolution of the Commission effective June 19, 1997.

The 1996-1997 FY budget of the Stewardship Commission called for an annualized CP allocation of $488,000. The Cooperative Program promotion ministry of the Stewardship Commission, which has been assigned to the Executive Committee, has a 1997-1998 CP allocation request of $370,000. The Sunday School Board, which assumes the stewardship and capital fundraising ministry of the Stewardship Commission, receives no Cooperative Program allocation for this ministry.

Historical Commission

All legal steps have been taken by the Historical Commission board to effect the cessation of the Historical Commission ministries and place the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (SBHLA) under the direction of the Council of Seminary Presidents (CSP). The CSP held its initial board meeting in June, 1997, adopting necessary resolutions for operation of the corporation.

The 1996-1997 FY budget for the Historical Commission calls for an annualized CP allocation of $500,000. The SBHLA is requesting a 1997-1998 CP allocation of $359,000.

Southern Baptist Foundation

The ministry of the Southern Baptist Foundation is being assumed by the Executive Committee. The new board of trustees has been elected by the Executive Committee and all documents have been approved by the SBF board necessary to effectuate the transfer of SBF to the Executive Committee as a subsidiary corporation effective June 19, 1997, using the same corporate identity rather than actual dissolution.

The Southern Baptist Foundation (SBF) has incurred no costs and no employees are being severed due to restructuring. The 1996-1997 FY budget of the SBF calls for an annualized CP allocation of $294,000. The 1997-1998 CP allocation request for the SBF as a part of the SBC operating budget is $296,000.

Southern Baptist Commission on the American Baptist Seminary

The Southern Baptist Commission on the American Baptist Seminary (SBCABS) ceased existence in September, 1996. There were no costs of restructuring and the Commission had no employees. A final grant of $165,000 was paid to the American Baptist Seminary from the 1996-1997 SBC Operating Budget. The 1995-1996 CP allocation for the SBCABS was $262,000. No CP expenditures are required in the future.


The following is a summary of the status of the NAMB predecessor entities as of June 19, 1997, with regard to legal, personnel, financial, and ministry implications.

Brotherhood Commission

The Brotherhood Commission trustees have approved all legal documents necessary to merge the Commission into the new NAMB. Most of the ministries of the Brotherhood Commission will continue under the auspices of NAMB (eg., missions education, disaster relief, etc.); however, they will be reshaped according to NAMB strategy, structure, and priorities.

A contract for the sale of the Brotherhood Commission property in Memphis, Tennessee, for the amount of $1.2 million has been signed. When the sale is closed, a cash balance of approximately $1 million will go to NAMB in the merger.

Home Mission Board

The directors of the Home Mission Board (HMB) adopted all legal documents necessary to merge the HMB into the new NAMB effective June 19, 1997. The varied ministries of the HMB will be performed under NAMB's direction although reshaped by NAMB's strategy, structure, and priorities.

Radio & Television Commission

The trustees of the Radio & Television Commission have adopted all legal documents necessary to cause the RTVC and all of its subsidiaries to become subsidiaries of the NAMB. The varied ministries of the RTVC will be performed under NAMB's direction although reshaped by NAMB's strategy, structure, and priorities. The operations of the RTVC will continue to be housed in Ft. Worth, Texas.


The preponderance of the work of the ITF was related to the creation of the NAMB. A unique arrangement for Southern Baptists was employed in this endeavor. Since no entity called NAMB existed and since it had no board of trustees to direct its work, the Executive Committee on behalf of the Convention asked the ITF to prepare NAMB for operation. Although there was much work to be done after June 19, the process of creating NAMB, in the opinion of the ITF, went remarkably well. The existing agencies that merged in NAMB gave their full cooperation in the processes of decision making which allowed the transition to take place in a timely and efficient manner.

NAMB Structure

After months of study, the ITF proposed an organizational structure composed of five major groups each to be headed by a vice president. The intent is for NAMB to operate in a "matrix" style in which the emphasis is on integration of personnel and resources across organizational lines rather than the traditional hierarchical style where each unit operates more independently and along a clearly defined and more rigid chain of command. It is believed that this model will enhance teamwork, shared resources and expertise, rapid response, flexibility, and creativity, thus improving both effectiveness and efficiency.

The key processes of NAMB will be church planting and evangelization. These two groups will be supported by the other three: strategic planning and mobilization, media and missions education, and businesses services.

NAMB President

The '96 Convention, in adopting the NAMB charter, elected thirteen Incorporators and assigned them, as one of their duties, the task of recommending to the trustees of the NAMB at their organizational meeting on June 19, 1997, a nominee for President of NAMB. The Incorporators, chaired by Dr. C. B. (Bill) Hogue, recommended Dr. Robert (Bob) Reccord, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, Norfolk, Virginia for this position and, in fact, presented Dr. Reccord in an informal meeting to those persons who were nominated as NAMB trustees at the 1997 SBC. Dr. Reccord began service July 1, 1997.

Organizational Meeting

The organizational meeting of NAMB was held June 19, 1997, at 1:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas. At that time, the trustees who were elected on June 17, 1997, by the SBC were called to order by the chairman of the Incorporators. The board approved the Articles of Incorporation which were adopted by the SBC in June 1996 and filed with the Secretary of State in Georgia. They also approved the various merger documents bringing the Brotherhood Commission, Home Mission Board, Radio & Television Commission and their subsidiaries into NAMB.

NAMB Budget

The budget for June 19, 1997, through December 31, 1997, not including restructuring expenses, is approximately $50.7 million. This compares to an aggregate projected budget of the three predecessor agencies for the corresponding period (had restructuring not occurred) of approximately $54 million.

A 1998 budget for NAMB has not been developed in detail but it is anticipated that NAMB will have revenues in 1998 of $106 million from Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong Offering, and all other sources. This amount is approximately $2 million less than it would have been had NAMB received the same percentage of CP allocation for FY 1997-1998 as the aggregate percentage (24.15) in the last full CP fiscal year of the three predecessor agencies. However, even with the difference in anticipated receipts from the CP, NAMB should have approximately $5 million to reassign to strategic mission priorities in 1998 because restructuring reduced expenses to $101 million compared to projected expenses of $108 million of the three predecessor agencies for the corresponding period, had restructuring not occurred.


The Covenant for a New Century called for name changes to two existing agencies. The trustees of the Foreign Mission Board and of the Christian Life Commission have each approved amendments to their individual Articles of Incorporation which cause their names to be changed to The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, respectively. The amended Articles of Incorporation were acted upon by the Executive Committee and the Southern Baptist Convention in June 1997.

The Covenant for a New Century mandated that SBC work in Canada will move from the oversight of the Foreign Mission Board to NAMB. Officials of the Foreign Mission Board, Home Mission Board, and Canadian Southern Baptists worked with ITF to transfer ministry support from the Foreign Mission Board to NAMB.


The personnel reduction in the restructuring is 217. Of these, by June 1996 twenty-three were hired by other Baptist agencies, forty-two by other employers, forty-two retired, and 110 were seeking new employment. The agencies provided severed employees with outplacement assistance. The severed employees received from four weeks to six months salary and medical coverage depending upon tenure.


The Transition Plan for the Covenant for a New Century presented in June 1996 by the ITF contained a cost benefit/analysis which included projected expenses and savings associated with the restructuring process. The conclusions were estimates based on research by consultants Coopers and Lybrand and were divided into three areas:

General expenses of restructuring (ITF) estimated at $800,000.

Benefits associated with the dissolving entities estimated at $1 million/year for five years (the costs of restructuring were not estimated).

Costs/benefits associated with NAMB were a one-time restructuring cost of $4.1 million-$5.7 million and a five-year operating savings of $30-37 million.

The Transition Plan of 1996 estimated a net savings after five years of $34-41 million when compared to operating costs for a corresponding period had restructuring not taken place. It appears that this level of savings will be achieved as restated below (five-year amounts):

Dissolving Agencies: + $ 5 million

NAMB Related Agencies: + $35 million

Less One-Time Costs: – $6 million

Total Five-Year Savings: $34 million

Of the $8 million revenue from reduced expenses due to restructuring in FY 1997-98, the Executive Committee recommended that approximately $3 million be distributed among the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the six seminaries, and the SBC Operating Budget (see the 1997 Book of Reports, page 38). The balance of this revenue from reduced expenses for 1997-98 (approximately $5 million) are in the NAMB allocation. No decision has been made on future allocations; however, the Executive Committee is studying the budget process with a view to recommending distribution with a missions priority.


The ITF believes it fulfilled its charge from the Executive Committee and the SBC and requested to be dissolved effective June 19, 1997. The ministries were transferred at that time and the respective boards of trustees, including the new NAMB, were authorized and positioned to carry out the ministries assigned to them. The ITF further believes that the monitoring and reporting functions through the year 2000 mandated by the Covenant can be performed adequately by the Executive Committee and its staff as they coordinate with the agencies of the Convention.


The 1996 Transition Plan stated, "The Executive Committee and the ITF affirm the goals of the Covenant for a New Century and are convinced that, by God's grace, they are attainable, workable, and full of promise."

The intervening year has only served to deepen the confidence and conviction that this process of restructuring has prepared the SBC to enter the 21st century better equipped and positioned than ever to take the gospel to the world. The ITF is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord and Southern Baptists in these months and, should the Lord tarry, looks forward with anticipation to the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. May the Lord Jesus Christ find us faithful and use us mightily in His kingdom "so that all nations might believe and obey him" (Romans 16:26).

Respectfully submitted,

The Implementation Task Force of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention:

John O. Yarbrough, Chairman
Michael S. Hamlet
Rudy A. Hernandez
C. B. (Bill) Hogue
Sarah O. Maddox
T. C. Pinckney
Robert E. (Bob) Reccord
Joe H. Reynolds
Theodore (Ted) R. Warren
Donald (Don) H. Wills

Staff to the Implementation Task Force:

David E. Hankins, Vice President for Convention Policy, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention

Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention:

Morris H. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Ronnie W. Floyd, Chairman
James P. Guenther, Legal Counsel



Impact on the SBC

a streamlined, better defined, more efficient structure

an effective, strategic approach to assisting the churches in reaching North America for Christ

a unified and coordinated use of media, missions education, and volunteers in evangelization and church planting

an opportunity for invigorated, improved partnerships with state conventions, associations, churches, and other Great Commission Christians

a reduction in the number of agencies from nineteen to twelve

a reduction in personnel in affected agencies from about 565 to about 365

restructuring costs of $6 million

expense reduction after restructuring costs of $35 million over five years

    About the Author

  • Implementation Task Force