Tomorrow morning, May 6th at 9am I will speak to the Administrative Committee of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) regarding the motion I presented on the floor of the LBC meeting in November of last year. The motion posits that according to the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC is prohibited from a seat on any of the four Boards of Trustees of the Convention. I presented this motion due to what I had witnessed while serving on the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College only after prayerful consideration and deliberately and carefully researching and examining the guiding documents of our Convention.
My motion was referred to the Executive Board for examination. I had expected to receive an invitation to speak to my motion however after 5 months had passed and an upcoming meeting of the Executive Board was looming, I took the advice of another pastor and made an official request to speak. Although I hoped to address the full Board I was granted the request to speak to the Administrative Committee of the Executive Board (they were the group tasked with consideration of the motion).
I sent the 23 members of that committee a 10 page pdf (which includes much of the material previously published on my personal blog). I received back a kind request from one member for a boiled down 1-page summary of the problem and my proposed solution. The following is that concise explanation which I have recently sent to the Administrative Committee:
Concise Explanation of my Motion
from Jay Adkins
I have covered every aspect of my motion in detail and with painstaking care. I’ve taken such care to ensure that no stone has been left uncovered and to attempt to answer every question I imagine could be asked of me. I have also been asked by an Administrative Committee member to produce a one-page summary of my concern and my proposed solution. I offer that to you today. Here are the facts:
- According to the Bylaws of the LBC (specifically Article 4, Section 10) no salaried employees of the Convention are eligible for election as a voting member of Boards or Committees unless it is provided somewhere else in the Constitution or Bylaws.
- In Article 3, Section 9 of the Bylaws there is an allowance for the Executive Director to serve as an ex officio member of the Committees of the Convention… not on the Boards. (Compare that to the allowance made for the President of the Convention in Article 8, Section 4 of the LBC Articles of Incorporation where he is given ex officio on both the Committees and Boards) Further, there is a clear distinction between Committees and Boards throughout the LBC Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The most clear distinction is made in Article 2 of the Bylaws where the delineation is made between the 7 Standing Committees and the 4 Boards of Trustees.
- Therefore, the Executive Director (and any other salaried employee) is in fact prohibited from a seat on any of the 4 Boards of Trustees.
- The Charters of the 4 Boards of Trustees now read (2 of which were relatively recently changed) to allow the Executive Director to sit as a member of the 4 Boards.
- The allowance in those Charters stand in direct contradiction with the Bylaws of the LBC.
- The LBC is the Sole Member of each of the 4 referenced entities. The “connectionalism” that Sole Membership provides affords the convention, in part, “the prerogative to unilaterally recommend the alteration or even the abolition of its entities.”1
- The Bylaws of the entities of the Sole Member cannot be allowed to supersede the Bylaws of the Sole Member itself.My Proposed Solution:I would like it to be clarified and then enforced 1) that according to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC does not have a position on any of the four Boards of Trustees (Louisiana College, the Baptist Message, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and the Foundation Board), 2) that the Convention respectfully requests that the four entities appropriately amend their Charters as to not contradict the LBC Bylaws and finally 3) that from this time forth the Executive Director be instructed to interact with those entities as an invited guest while maintaining a friendly and collegial relationship with those entities.Otherwise, we must change our Bylaws to allow the Executive Director to serve on the Boards.
David Hankins, The Relation of the Southern Baptist Convention to Its Entities. accessed from http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=275 on April 30, 2014.
For me, this issue is about the following things. First, Vigilance in protecting the Rule of Order. If we are to have guiding documents we are obliged to follow them. If they are insufficient we should adjust them accordingly. Second, we should Practice good Hermeneutics when it comes to interpretation of our guiding documents. We seem to have no trouble pronouncing anathema on those who would not correctly interpret constitutional law, but in matters of denominational hermeneutics we seem to lean heavily on interpretation given to us by our leaders. We should take hermeneutical care in denominational life by employing the wise proverb, “trust but verify.” Third, I would offer a Caution against Apathy related to Minutiae. Look, I know what it is like to be underwhelmed by the droning on and on of facts and figures. In fact, I am never a good listener when it comes to numbers. Put me in a room with financial guys talking money and my eyes glaze over. I am no help in that area. However, if I am in the room and have responsibility for my part of that discussion, I must engage and attempt to contribute. Let us not abdicate our responsibility when we are bored and uninterested. Finally, we should Encourage healthy Critical Thinking. Fundamentalists still today, trumpet the “liberalism” of textual criticism suggesting that such criticism is negative and seeks to tear down what is good. Friends, those of us who went to seminary know the great blessing that is textual criticism and we are indebted to those professors who taught us how to do it correctly. Because of textual criticism we can have answers for those who seek to discredit scripture. Healthy critical thinking is a great gift to us from the God who holds all intellect and reasonable thought. Isn’t our faith one that should seek understanding? Let’s not just do something because that is “the way it has been done,” or because sister so-and-so thinks it is the right way to do it.I look forward to speaking with and answering questions from the Administrative Committee tomorrow morning. Please pray for clear thoughts, open minds and reasonable dialogue.
PS. I have not forgotten that I said I would write about the most recent Louisiana College Board meeting. I will do that soon. I have been waiting for this week to pass (and for a few other things) before I spoke about what happened on Tuesday, April 15th. Please be patient.