Context for Review of New Orleans Seminary’s Sole Membership Charter Amendments
by D. August Boto and James P. Guenther
February 4, 2005
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.
Read the suggested amendments, as well as the footnotes containing the opinions of SBC legal counsel.
Reservations Expressed by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Concerning a Charter Amendment Proposal
Response to reservations about sole membership posed by the New Orleans seminary