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. Composition: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of Baptist churches in cooperation with the Convention. The following subparagraphs describe the Convention’s current standards and method of determining the maximum number of messengers the Convention will recognize from each cooperating church to attend the Convention’s annual meeting.
- The Convention will only deem a church to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention, and sympathetic with its purposes and work (i.e., a “cooperating” church as that term is used in the Convention’s governing documents) which:
- Has a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith. (By way of example, churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.)
- Has formally approved its intention to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention. (By way of example, the regular filing of the annual report requested by the Convention would be one indication of such cooperation.)
- Has made undesignated, financial contribution(s) through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity during the fiscal year preceding.
- Does not act in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse.
- Does not act to affirm, approve, or endorse discriminatory behavior on the basis of ethnicity.
- Under the terms above, the Convention will recognize to participate in its annual meeting two (2) messengers from each cooperating church, and such additional messengers as are permitted below.
- The Convention will recognize additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of the options described below. Whichever method allows the church the greater number of messengers shall apply:
- One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity; or
- One additional messenger for each $6,000 which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity.
- The messengers shall be appointed and certified by their church to the Convention, but the Convention will not recognize more than twelve (12) from any cooperating church.
- Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he or she is appointed.
- If a church experiences a natural disaster or calamitous event and, as a result, the church is not qualified to appoint as many messengers as the church could appoint for the Convention’s annual meeting immediately before the event, the church’s pastor or an authorized church representative may, for no more than the three (3) annual meetings after the event, certify the facts to the registration secretary and obtain the same number of messengers it could have certified for the Convention’s annual meeting immediately before the event.
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 charters.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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:
- 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 Convention.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 messengers 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.