In a June 16 called meeting conducted by interactive videoconference, the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board unanimously approved a recommendation to move the 2020 annual meeting online.
Patrick Bradley, chair of the BGCT Committee on Annual Meeting, presented a recommendation approved at its June 4 meeting: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee on Annual Meeting recommends the Executive Board declares an ‘emergency’ exists under the BGCT Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, and that we move the business of the Convention to a new place online in a format to be determined by the [Committee on Annual Meeting] and approved by the Executive Board.”
BGCT Executive Director David Hardage noted in order to have time to plan an effective online meeting and virtual experience for Texas Baptists, the board needed to act right away if it chose to proceed in that direction.
Based on an informal poll of other state conventions, Hardage observed about two-thirds at this point still are planning in-person annual meetings.
However, he noted, Texas Baptists’ annual meeting is significantly larger than those conventions, and those annual meetings are small enough to be held in churches rather than a convention center.
So, unlike the BGCT—which had planned to meet at the Waco Convention Center—those conventions were not bound by contracts with their host sites.
‘Move the place to an online virtual experience’
Associate Executive Director Craig Christina told the board the only stipulation in the BGCT’s governing documents that covers a situation like the current one is the “emergency” clause in Article IV, Section 1, of its constitution. It grants the Executive Board authority to change the time and place of the annual meeting.
So, the committee recommended the board “move the place to an online virtual experience.”
Christina voiced hope that the online format might draw a larger audience than the usual format that requires weekday travel.
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He reported that the convention’s attorney confirmed the board has authority to move the annual meeting to an online format, as long as the meeting allows messengers to vote, make motions and debate business.
The Committee on Order of Business will present the necessary change to the standing rules, he noted.
Details yet to be finalized
While details have not yet been finalized by the Committee on Annual Meeting, the committee and BGCT leaders envision a condensed one-day format, Christina said.
Votes on the budget, election of officers, and the elections of trustees and directors, along with other motions, likely will be scheduled during workday hours on Monday, Nov. 16. The annual sermon, president’s address and some other featured events will be scheduled during the Monday evening session.
Messengers who wish to make motions or submit resolutions probably will be permitted to do so in advance.
Matters of business that do not require immediate action at the 2020 annual meeting likely will be referred to committees. If the committees determine they require action at an annual meeting, they will be dealt with at the 2021 annual meeting.
Additional details will be communicated to Texas Baptists as soon as possible, Hardage added.