Monday, June 12
Phoenix Convention Center, North 228B
There will be a free orientation regarding messenger participation in the annual meeting for anyone wishing to attend. The session will include an explanation of “high interest” times, program personalities and processes, how and when messengers may use the floor microphones, how to use the registration materials, etc. There will also be a “Q&A” time. Interested messengers are encouraged to register at the registration desk prior to attending and bring their registration materials to this session. Convention attendees who are not messengers are also welcome. No advance registration or reservation for this session is required.
I was one of 50 or so attendees to the Messenger Orientation led by Augie Boto, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Executive Committee. He is the head lawyer for the Executive Committee and an occasional commenter here. In fact, had he not made mention of this orientation on June 5th it would have been lost in the pile of events, luncheons, breakfasts, meetings that are jammed into the annual meeting’s few days.
The session was informative, enjoyable, and I was pleased to meet and chat with Augie for a few moments after the meeting. Astute lawyer that he is, he spotted me, a renegade blogger, early on.
I’ve attended 25 or so SBC annual meetings over a span of 35 years, my first being in 1982. Over that span I’ve picked up bits and pieces of the SBC’s complicated and sometimes puzzling and frustrating polity, practices, and parliamentary workings. Nothing was as informative as this short session.
Here are a few observations:
- The longer I watch things about the SBC Executive Committee from a distance the more I get the feeling that they genuinely want to assist Southern Baptists in any way possible. This hasn’t always been my view of things and I confess to a previous bias that convention leaders would rather not be bothered by the folks who pay the bills and fuel the enterprise.
- The SBC annual meeting, it was explained, is an important corporate meeting and certain things must be done in certain ways. It happens, so I was informed, to be the largest meeting of its type in the world. Corporations vote shares, usually by proxy and most proxies are granted to a small group of directors, but the SBC operates by individual, personal messenger vote year-after-year.
- Charts were given showing the processes for motions and resolutions at the annual meeting. Both are far more complicated and deliberate than I was aware with dozens of steps and possible outcomes.
- A handout explained that properly submitted resolutions are evaluated by the Resolutions Committee by conference calls prior to the convention, then in meetings with about thirty hours worth of such allotted, then with reviews, fact-checking, fine-tuning, and word-smithing prior to submission to the messengers. Still, messengers have the ability to amend it from the floor. [In regard to the McKissick resolution, the resolutions committee erred and admitted as much. I’m not sure any changes to the process would have changed the outcome.]
- I recall hearing it said before but the microphone ordering system, an automated system of handling the floor mics, is patented and licensed for use to others who have mass meetings.
- The Executive Committee has had experts examine remote voting, satellite meeting locations, and other ways to expand participation in the SBC Annual Meeting but is advised that none of these can be done securely. I believe the point was made that no large organization does electronic voting because of the problems with security.
- I have the theory that most engaged SBCers see themselves as parliamentary experts…but aren’t. Whatever we pay for parliamentarians is worth it. We have to get it right.
- The SBC has never been successfully sued. I think it was said that the Executive Committee fields two or three lawsuits every year. Our structure and polity is designed to prevent such things and that accounts for some of the things (like making motions directing SBC entities to take specific actions) that cannot be done at the annual meeting.
I suppose next year’s convention will have a similar session for messengers. I’d recommend attending it…there’s nothing much else in Dallas worth doing anyway.