It’s not looking like I will make the annual meeting in Columbus but a few housekeeping matters concerning SBC bylaws will be on the agenda anyway.
1. Electronic Voting…the SBC dragged into the 21st Century.
The punch card ballots used all these years at the annual meetings (“Take out your ballots and tear off ballot number four and only ballot number four…punch out the little square…”) is technology that is more than two centuries old ( Go to the Smithsonian and check out the Jacquard Loom for an early example, fascinating). The SBC has managed the counting of ballots this way for as long as I have attended but, wonder of wonders, allowance is being made in the bylaws for electronic voting. It will not happen this year but the bylaw change proposal if passed will allow for electronic voting next year. I suppose some kind of cell phone vote will be configured then. Wonder if there will be surcharges for texting your vote? Luddites, and I know some SBC Luddites, are welcome to vote against the bylaw change. Good move by the SBC Executive Committee.
One notes that the Executive Committee says not one syllable about allowing off-premises voting, as in remote locations or registration and balloting for those not present and in the convention hall. You’ve got to have your physical self inside of the hall to vote. Maybe in the next century we will kick around the idea of remote voting, satellite locations or such.
2. Quorum, what quorum?
A couple of years ago one of the VP ballots was held when, according to observers, there was not even close to a quorum (25% of registered messengers) present. I think it was an early morning so I suppose great numbers of rotund reverends were still finishing their cholesterol-saturated breakfast and didn’t make it to the hall for the session. No big deal about that, no damage done, and no one noticed except for a busybody blogger or two; however, the Executive Committee noticed so a bylaw change is proposed concerning a quorum.
The proposal replaces the requirement that “25 percent of those duly registered and seated messengers” with a simpler, non-mathematical statement that a “quorum for conducting business at a meeting of the Southern Baptists Convention shall be those present.” No need for the chair to make a determination or to start using fingers and toes to get an estimate. Under the new bylaws, if as few as a half-dozen messengers are in the hall, the SBC can vote to amend the budget to give SBC Voices a grant of a million dollars to buy a new wardrobe. Not a bad idea but probably not something other SBC entities would be willing to fund from their budget proposals.
We Southern Baptists have had a tussle or two amongst ourselves, haven’t we? I recall that at least once SBC Moderates picked a sparsely attended session to introduce and pass something. One hopes that this lack of any minimum number for a quorum doesn’t lead to that kind of stuff. No one would actually try and pull that, would they?
3. Condensed business schedule.
I read that convention planners and leaders have squeezed “almost every committee report, election, and major business time” into just a single afternoon, Tuesday. That sounds good to me although the elections and business times were about the only times that I recall where attendees would leave the exhibit hall, snack bar, and LifeWay store to take their seats in the convention hall. These mass meetings are a tough sell these days so I’m for trying anything. Guess we will see how this works.
4. SBC Constitution amendment on ‘friendly cooperation’ and messenger numbers
It was passed last year. Second vote to finish the deal this year. No big deal.
I hope my colleagues and friends have a grand time in Columbus. Try and hold down the selfies with Dave Miller and other blogging personalities, will you? Doesn’t look dignified.