Context for Review
of New Orleans Seminary’s Sole Membership Charter Amendments
In the course of the discussions between
the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and the various SBC entities
regarding the recommendation of sole membership amendments to
their various charters, it became the practice to supply them with
footnoted drafts showing the suggested, beneficial changes.
In all cases, the drafts were prepared by the SBC’s lawyers and submitted to the entities,
which in turn would review those drafts, ask questions, suggest
changes or otherwise respond. Any differences were worked
through to mutually satisfactory conclusions. Often there
were no differences, and the drafts were approved as the final
documents by the entities, submitted to the Executive Committee
for recommendation to the Convention, and ultimately approved
by the Convention. Except for there not yet being a conclusion
of the matter, the above course was also followed with regard
to the New Orleans seminary, and included supplying sample
documents to New Orleans Seminary on several occasions:
- On September 5, 1997, a letter was sent to all the entities
commending the apparent advantages of sole membership, asking
for a consensus from among the entity leaders, including
a draft of some possible SBC governing document changes,
and indicating that the Executive Committee would be working
with each entity to craft appropriate amendments.
- On January 20, 1998 a second letter was sent to all entity
heads including drafts of possible SBC Bylaw amendments and
asking for input.
- On September 21, 1999 a conference was
held with Dr. Kelley during which he was given, as examples,
copies of the sole membership charter amendments the
Midwestern, Golden Gate, and Southwestern seminaries
had already adopted. (All
other entities except Southeastern Seminary had adopted sole
membership prior to that date. Southeastern Seminary
adopted sole membership in 2000).
- On December 4, 2001, Convention and Executive Committee representatives
met with seminary representatives and discussed sole membership,
at the conclusion of which meeting the seminary asked for,
among other things, a draft of suggested charter changes
adopting sole membership accompanied by a brief or footnotes
referring to the effect of the changes and applicable laws.
- On January 24, 2002, the requested draft and other materials
were sent to the New Orleans seminary.
The text of that 1/24/2002 footnoted draft is what the trustees
of the New Orleans seminary ultimately approved in October of
2004, expressing reservations in doing so.
suggested amendments, as well as the footnotes containing
the opinions of SBC legal counsel.
Expressed by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Concerning a Charter Amendment Proposal
Response to reservations about sole membership posed by the
New Orleans seminary