The messengers from missionary societies, churches, and other religious bodies of the Baptist denomination in various parts of the United States met in Augusta, Georgia, May 8, 1845, for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intention of our constituents by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel and adopted rules and fundamental principles which, as amended from time to time, are as follows:
Article I. The Name: The name of this body is the “Southern Baptist Convention.”
Article II. Purpose: It is the purpose of the Convention to provide a general organization for Baptists in the
United States and its territories for the promotion of Christian missions at home and abroad and any other objects such
as Christian education, benevolent enterprises, and social services which it may deem proper and advisable for the
furtherance of the Kingdom of God.
Article III. Membership: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of missionary Baptist
churches cooperating with the Convention as follows:
- One (1) messenger from each church which: (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and
sympathetic with its purposes and work. Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are
churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. And, (2) Has been a bona fide
contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year preceding.
- One (1) additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty (250) members; or
for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting.
- The messengers shall be appointed and certified by the churches to the Convention, but no church may
appoint more than ten (10).
- Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he is appointed.
Article IV. Authority: While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and
will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations,
associations, or convention.
Article V. Officers:
- The officers of the Convention shall be a president, a first and a second vice president, a recording secretary, a registration secretary, and a treasurer.
- The officers shall be elected annually and shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified. The term of office for the president is limited to two (2) years, and a president shall not be eligible for re-election until as much as one (1) year has elapsed from the time a successor is named. The first vice president shall be voted upon and elected after the election of the president has taken place; and the second vice president shall be voted upon and elected after the election of the first vice president has taken place.
- The president shall be a member of the several boards and of the Executive Committee.
- The treasurer of the Executive Committee shall be the treasurer of the Convention.
- In case of death or disability of the president, the vice presidents shall automatically succeed to the office of president in the order of their election.
Article VI. The Boards, Institutions, and Commissions – Their Constitution and Powers:
- The general boards of the Convention shall be composed as follows, unless otherwise provided in their
- (1) Twelve (12) members chosen from the city or vicinity of the state in which the board is located, but
not more than three (3) local members elected from the same church.
- (2) One (1) member chosen from each cooperating state; and one (1) additional member from each
state having two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) members, and another additional member for each
additional two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) members in such state.
- (3) The members shall be divided into four (4) groups as nearly equal as possible, and one (1) group
shall be elected each year to serve four (4) years. Board members having served two (2) full terms of four
- (4) years shall not be eligible for re-election until as much as two (2) years have elapsed. This shall also
apply to the Executive Committee.
- The trustees of institutions and directors shall be composed as follows:
- (1) The trustees or directors shall be elected in keeping with the requirements of the charter of the
entity as printed in the 1948 Book of Reports or subsequently amended with the prior approval of the
- (2) If the composition of the trustees or directors is not determined by charter requirements, the body
of trustees or directors shall be composed of one (1) member chosen from each cooperating state and
eight (8) local members from the city or vicinity in which the entity is located, but not more than two (2)
local members shall be chosen from the same church.
- (3) Unless it is contrary to the charter requirements of the entity, the trustees or directors shall be
divided into four (4) groups as nearly equal as possible and one (1) group shall be elected each year to
serve four (4) years. Members having served two (2) full terms of four (4) years shall not be eligible for
re-election until as much as two (2) years have elapsed after one has served two (2) full terms.
- (4) Regardless of charter provisions, no trustee or director shall be eligible for re-election until as much
as two (2) years have elapsed after the trustee or director has served two (2) full terms.
- Terms of Service: No trustee of a board, institution, or commission, or a member of the Executive
Committee shall be eligible to serve for more than two consecutive terms. A trustee or member of the
Executive Committee who has served more than half a term shall be considered to have served a full term.
- The governing groups of the entities may elect executive, administrative, finance, investment, and other
committees if desired.
- Each entity shall elect a president, a recording secretary, a treasurer, and such other officers as may be
required. The president may be named as treasurer.
- The compensation of its officers and employees shall be fixed by each entity, but no salaried employee or
officer shall be a member of the directors of the entity.
- Each entity is authorized to adopt its own bylaws.
- Fifty percent of the members of the governing group shall constitute a quorum of the entity directors for
transaction of any business
Article VII. Duties of Officers of Boards, Institutions, and Commissions: All officers shall be subject to the
control and direction of their directors in matters pertaining to the work and obligations of the board, institution, or
commission. They shall perform such duties as commonly appertain to such officers.
- The executive head of each board, institution, and commission shall be responsible to the directors for all
the work of the entity and shall carry on the work as the directors may direct.
- The recording secretary of each entity shall keep a record of all meetings of directors, if not otherwise
provided for, and shall keep the records in fireproof safes, vaults, or files.
- The treasurer of each entity shall follow approved methods of accounting, keep the books, receipt for all
monies and securities, deposit all funds with a depository or depositories approved by the directors, and
render full statements as required to the directors or to the Convention. The treasurer shall not pay out
money except as the directors may order and direct.
Article VIII. Church Membership: Officers of the Convention, all officers and members of all boards,
trustees of institutions, directors, all committee members, and all missionaries of the Convention appointed by its
boards shall be members of Baptist churches cooperating with this Convention.
Article IX. Missionaries’ Qualifications: All missionaries appointed by the Convention’s boards must,
previous to their appointment, furnish evidence of piety, zeal for the Master’s kingdom, conviction of truth as held by
Baptists, and talents for missionary service.
Article X. Distribution of Funds: The Convention shall have the right to designate only undesignated funds,
the right of contributors to the work of the Convention to designate the objects to which their contributions shall be
applied being fully recognized.
Article XI. Meetings:
- The Convention shall hold its meetings annually at such time and place as it may choose.
- The president may call special meetings with the concurrence of the other officers of the Convention and
of the Executive Committee.
- The Executive Committee may change the time and place of meeting if the entertaining city withdraws its
invitation or is unable to fulfill its commitments.
- The Convention officers, the Executive Committee, and the executive heads of the Convention’s boards
and institutions acting in a body may, in case of grave emergency, cancel a regular meeting or change the
place of meeting.
Article XII. As to Conflict with State Laws: All incorporated entities of the Convention shall be required to
comply with the letter and spirit of this Constitution, the Bylaws, and the Business and Financial Plan insofar as they
are not in conflict with the statute law of the state in which an entity is incorporated, and nothing herein contained shall
be construed to require any such incorporated entity to act and carry on its affairs in conflict with the law of the state of
its incorporation. In case any action of any entity of the Convention is found to be a violation of the law of the state of
its incorporation, said action shall be reported by that entity to the Convention for appropriate action.
Article XIII. Definition of a State: The District of Columbia shall be regarded as a state for the purpose of this
Constitution, the Bylaws, and all actions of the Convention.
Article XIV. Amendments: Any alterations may be made in these Articles at any annual meeting of the
Convention by a vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting at the time the vote is taken, provided that an
amendment shall be so approved by two (2) consecutive annual meetings of the Convention.