The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) executive committee unanimously approved proposed changes to the convention’s bylaws that would create a formal process by which individuals could be removed from positions of leadership for behavior that would disqualify them for service.
The committee voted to approve the proposed changes during a regularly scheduled meeting held Thursday, July 11, at the BSCNC offices in Cary. The proposed changes will now go before the BSCNC’s full board of directors for consideration at the board’s September meeting. Following any action by the board, the measure would then go before messengers attending the BSCNC annual meeting in November for final action and approval.
The proposed amendments specify that certain individuals serving in leadership positions with the convention may be removed from office for “serious misconduct damaging to the people, mission, or ministry of the Convention.”
The changes would apply to members of the state convention’s board of directors, non-board members appointed to board committees, convention committee members, convention officers, and members of the Fruitland Baptist Bible College board of directors.
The proposed bylaw amendments also authorize the state convention’s board of directors to adopt and implement a separate policy that would outline the steps for addressing and acting upon allegations of misconduct. The accompanying policy would include guidelines related to how complaints, investigations, hearings, appeals and dismissals are handled.
A proposed policy that would accompany the bylaw changes was presented to the executive committee, but it was not acted upon because its adoption is contingent upon final approval of any proposed bylaw changes.
If the bylaw changes are approved, the BSCNC’s board of directors would consider the accompanying policy at a later date, which would likely be the board’s regularly scheduled meeting in January of 2020.
Currently, the state convention’s bylaws only set forth objective criteria by which a board member’s service may be terminated. Those standards include failing to meet attendance requirements, moving outside of the region from which they were nominated to serve, or moving out of state.
The proposed bylaw changes and accompanying policy would give convention officials a formal process to deal with other matters as they arise.
“The bylaw and policy have both been written from the perspective that the protection of the Convention is more important than the protection of any individual in a Convention Position,” Don Goforth, chair of the convention’s Articles and Bylaws Special Committee, wrote in a memo to executive committee members.
“The policy identifies the objective reasons and speaks to the subjective reasons for removing an individual from a Convention Position,” Goforth wrote. He added that the policy “seeks to provide consistency to the process for removal.”
The Articles and Bylaws Special Committee developed the proposed bylaw amendments and policy in consultation with convention officials and legal counsel at the direction of the BSCNC’s executive committee.
In January of this year, the BSCNC’s board of directors approved a motion made by Curtis Williams of Brown Creek Baptist Church in Wadesboro for the executive committee to develop a policy that would allow for the removal of a board member for actions that would disqualify them from serving on the board. The executive committee referred the matter to the Articles and Bylaws Special Committee during its meeting in March.
During an update to the executive committee and full board in May, Goforth said his committee had developed a “working draft” of the bylaw amendments and accompanying policy that not only included board members but also other individuals in positions of convention leadership.
The proposed bylaw amendments that Goforth’s committee presented and the executive committee approved noted that the overarching goal of the change is “to provide an environment that protects and promotes the Christian witness of the cooperating churches and their members.”
BSCNC Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis said convention officials have had to address misconduct issues with some convention board members and committee members in the past.
“Thankfully anytime that’s happened, they have voluntarily resigned,” Davis said. “But had any of them not voluntarily resigned, we didn’t have a process to deal with that. Approval of this (measure) would give us that process.”
2020 budget proposal approved
The executive committee also gave its unanimous approval to a $30.5 million budget proposal for 2020 that includes a 0.5 percent increase in the allocation to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) missions and ministry causes.
While the 2020 budget proposal is $500,000 less than 2019, Budget Special Committee Chairman Rick Speas described the proposal as “reasonable and faith challenging.” Speas said the committee took a “balanced approach” in trying to allocate funds among state convention ministries, institutions and agencies, Fruitland Baptist Bible College and the SBC.
If approved, the increased SBC allocation would mark the 14th consecutive year that the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has raised its support of SBC missions and ministry causes. The increase would bring the state convention’s SBC allocation up to 42 percent of the total budget.
The budget recommendation will now go before the BSCNC’s full board of directors for consideration at its September meeting before being presented to messengers at the 2019 BSCNC annual meeting in Greensboro this November.
In other business, board President Clay Smith announced that executive committee members Noah Crowe, Tracy Smith and Keith Stephenson have been named to Fruitland Baptist Bible College’s nominating committee, and Crowe will serve as the committee chair.
The next meeting of the executive committee is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24, which will take place in conjunction with the regularly scheduled September meeting of the BSCNC’s full board of directors.