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Restructuring Past. Was it enough?
Monday, September 25, 2006

On June 20, 1995 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted the Covenant for a New Century, the document that listed the new ministry statements of SBC entities following the restructuring of the infrastructure of the Convention. These ministry statements are now a part of the Organization Manual of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
During the restructuring process, the SBC respectfully asked the trustees of five SBC commissions to do something that was extremely difficult, vote to dissolve the entity they had been elected to serve. Due to their cooperation, the Brotherhood Commission, Radio and Television Commission, Education Commission, Historical Commission, and Stewardship Commission were dissolved.
 
The trustees of the Southern Baptist Foundation, at the request of the Convention, voted for the Foundation to become a subsidiary corporation of the Executive Committee rather than remain an entity of the Convention. The Home Mission Board trustees also cooperated with the Convention in voting to dissolve the HMB although it was going to reappear in the organization that became the North American Mission Board.
 
The Radio and Television Commission (RTVC), the Brotherhood Commission, and the Home Mission Board (HMB) were forged into the new North American Mission Board (NAMB). Upon advice of SBC attorneys, the Brotherhood Commission, HMB, and RTVC were dissolved as corporations and a new corporation was registered in Georgia, literally making it the newest entity in the Southern Baptist Convention. Trustees from all three entities who were serving their second four-year term were elected as the first trustees of the newly organized corporation named the North American Mission Board. Trustees in their first four-year term were asked to end their trusteeship with the dissolution of the entity. Otherwise, the new board at NAMB would be much too unwieldy to serve the best interest of the board and the SBC.
 
I was asked by the Program and Structure Study Committee (PSSC), Dr. Mark Brister, Chairman, to make the request directly to the presidents of the entities in the SBC Building in Nashville. Three of the commissions were located in the building that continues to house the SBC Executive Committee and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
 
The PSSC worked with a keen sense of confidentiality because research revealed that two other committees in SBC history had undertaken similar studies only to be stymied by the outcry of entity executives before the committee could make recommendations to the Convention. Consequently, although a variety of rumors were circulating about the committee’s conclusions, the chief executives of the Education, Historical, and Stewardship commissions remained unaware of the committee’s decision to ask them and their trustees to dissolve their organizations.
 
Because this kind of decision impacts people’s lives professionally, financially, and emotionally as well as creates anxieties and uncertainty about the future, these conversations were up to that time my toughest assignment since coming to the Executive Committee in 1992. I asked the Lord for wisdom to explain clearly and succinctly what the chief executives were being requested to do and to assure them of my prayers and the prayers of the committee.  I invited each to visit with me in my office at three separate times during the course of one day.  To say the least, the three men to whom I explained the decisions of the committee were stunned. However, in the ensuing days, each one dutifully and graciously led their trustees through the steps required to dissolve the organizations as requested by the PSSC. The PSSC was convinced the decisions were critical to the future of the SBC and a necessary step in attempting to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
The work of the PSSC was soon to be history and the members came to the end of their assignment with a deep sense of assurance that God had guided them through the long process all the way to their conclusions. The final recommendations adopted by the SBC on June 20, 1995 had been reached only after spending hours upon hours in prayer, research, interviews, and deliberations. For the first time in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, a recommendation was to be presented to the entire Convention in an attempt to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Southern Baptist Convention. When the task was completed, it was as if a great burden had been lifted from the shoulders of the committee members.
 
At the same time, there was much work left to be done and because the work of the committee was so labor intensive, it was decided that a task force composed of other Southern Baptists should lead the implementation process. The Implementation Task Force was elected and the group was instructed to elect its chairman. The members of the newly elected task force elected Dr. Bob Reccord, then pastor of the First Baptist Church of Norfolk, VA.
 
The following categories indicate how SBC entities were impacted by the Convention’s adoption of the SBC Program Structure and Study Committee recommendation.

Dissolved
Brotherhood Commission
Education Commission
Historical Commission
Home Mission Board
Radio and Television Commission
 
New Subsidiary
Southern Baptist Foundation ceased being an entity of the SBC and became a subsidiary of the SBC Executive Committee with trustees elected by the Executive Committee.
 
Newly Constituted
North American Mission Board
 
Name Change Only
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (formerly Christian Life Commission)
International Mission Board (formerly Foreign Mission Board)

Reassignments
  • North American Mission Board received the assignments of the Brotherhood Commission (Baptist Men and Royal Ambassadors), Radio and Television Commission, and the Home Mission Board.
  • Baptist Sunday School Board received the assignment of stewardship from the Stewardship Commission.
  • SBC Executive Committee received the assignment of Cooperative Program promotion from the Stewardship Commission.
  • Historical Commission was dissolved as an entity of the SBC, but the Historical Library and Archives remains in the SBC Building in Nashville and operates under the supervision of the SBC Council of Seminary Presidents funded by approximately $500,000 from the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
 
No Recommended Program or Structure Changes
Annuity Board
Southern Baptist Seminaries
WMU, Auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention

Name Changes Requested by Entities after the Restructuring  http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/organization.asp
LifeWay Christian Resources (formerly Baptist Sunday School Board)
GuideStone Financial Resources (formerly Annuity Board)

Often someone asks, “Why did you not change this or that?” The answer is that the Program and Structure Study Committee recommended changes on the basis of perceived priorities. Did they make all the changes discussed during the months of deliberation? The answer is, “No.” Why did the seminaries and the Annuity Board escape recommended changes? The answer is that the committee wished to give newly elected chief executives of these entities time to develop and execute their visions unencumbered by reorganization requests by the SBC.
 
One primary question remains to date, “Should other changes be made within the SBC infrastructure for the purpose of enhancing our Southern Baptist witness in North America and beyond.” A similar question is, “Can the operations of SBC entities become leaner, more focused, and more effective?”
 
To both questions, the answer is, “Yes.” Thus you might ask, “What other changes would you propose if given the opportunity?” I hate to leave the question unanswered, but this forum is neither the time nor place. Sorry!  Perhaps you already have at least some of the answers and haven't realized it.  

Dr. C
9/25/2006

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