NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP) – The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has recommended against changing from an annual meeting to holding its convention every other year.
Responding to a motion from last summer's convention to move from an annual to biennial gathering, the Executive Committee said the change would save several hundred thousands of dollars in years the convention doesn't meet, but it would create numerous constitutional programs.
"Southern Baptists are not a hierarchical group and therefore need to meet annually to discern the will of the messengers through God's leading to effectively and efficiently facilitate our cooperative mission endeavors to reach a lost and dying world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ," convention leaders said in a motion adopted Feb. 22.
Other reasons cited in the motion are that SBC bylaws require annual ministry and financial reports. The recommendation notes additionally that Southern Baptists are "a relational people" and that annual meetings enable messengers "the opportunity to facilitate timely consideration and discussion of the interests of the convention."
When the SBC was organized in 1845, it originally planned to meet every three years. After the lag between the 1846 and 1849, organizers moved to every other year to better promote and communicate about mission endeavors. Annual meetings have been held every year since 1867, except for sessions canceled in 1943 and 1945 due to interruption by World War II.
If there were an advantage to meeting every other year, convention officials said the earliest it could be accomplished is 2015, because contracts have been signed until then for annual meetings.