Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fifteen (Day Five)

   I can say this negatively or positively. Let me try both ways.

   We might recover our baptist democratic polity to the good of most.

   We might end the power of a poorly attended annual caucus, which costs us in terms of influence, participation and contributions each year.

    Let’s look at the negative statement first. Our poorly attended annual caucus, called a "convention" happens each year in the fall. Participation, in the form of attendance, is minimal. Participation, in the form of input, is even less. If one counts the number of churches represented and the per centage of attendees who are of the older generation (like me) the attendance at our annual caucus is minimal, in greater significance when one examines the power of the annual caucus.

   Simply put, an organized power group can largely control the personnel, budget and vision of the entire state convention apparatus if they can marshall about 1,000 "messengers" for one day in the autumn. Since many denominational workers can attend as representatives of their churches and on an expense account the number of actual representatives of the churches required to maintain control is even less.

   The chair muzzles dissent. Obscure parliamentary machinations quell provocative motions. Order is maintained. To disagree is to be a "closet fundamentalist."

   Edmund Burke was a member of British Parliament in the 18th century. He is credited with being one of the intellectual founders of modern conservatism. Burke told his well-wishers he would not be bound by their interests in the Parliament but would consider only the national interest. He said he did not owe his voters obedience but the best independent use of his knowledge for the public good.

   Does anyone reasonably assert the purveyors of power in the SBC or in the BGCT use their own best knowledge independent of the persons who put them in office? If so, how is it they all, independently, look, act and speak just alike?

   The state convention annual meeting is now debased to a caucus. A caucus is inconvenient, requires commitment of time and energy and so attracts agenda-driven persons, particularly when the caucus results are not subject to further democratic review.

   The only democratic review we have left is attendance/giving and both are declining. The electorate is neither engaged nor enraptured.

   Now, for the positive. We might regain our baptist democratic process. To accomplish this "resurgence" (a dirty word for some baptists now) we could use technology to allow distance voting or early voting to engage more baptists. This would require a charter change but the hapless ruling of our last historic president shows by-law changes are not impossible if anyone is paying attention.

   If you do not wish to go this way, please put forward your own plan. Let me warn you not to include in your plan the words, "We have to move on." That is not a plan. It is a cheer, as empty as "Two Bits."










3 thoughts on “Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fifteen (Day Five)”

  1. Rick, I agree with you on the need to allow for voting and participation from satelite sites around the state.
    I am hearing from more and more people, especially the young that this should be considered.
    More than likely some will complain that “it aint fair for them to vote when they aint made the trip”. But the reality is they can and should be involved as much as every one else, just be able to do so from a nearby satelite situation.
    Some from the BGCT level say it may be cost prohibitive to set up a satelite type of system. I say it will be detrimental not to. Yes, it may cost much to set up but in the long haul may be the best thing we can do in the great big state of ours. Change is necessary. It aint pretty, but it is necessary.
    Bob Cheatheam

  2. Rick,
    We promise to pray for you as you go under the “Nip/Tuck” knife of surgical repairs and healing. I know you have suffered with this for many years, so we pray it will be a BIG blessing in the end. Thanks for all you do,
    Texas SCUBA Man

  3. I had asked BGCT officers for years why we couldn’t have the regional satellite centers. You could also use them for other programming that would edify people and churches. Every time you use them, you bring down the per-use cost of the down link equipment. The cost savings for people/churches not buying airfare could be used to offset initial costs. Cost just isn’t a relevant argument for a state org. with deep pockets.
    But there are two other problems that are more difficult to work through: teaching younger adults to participate en masse in denominational life, and keeping the denominational “problems” out of the system. People don’t mind being a part of a meaningful movement, but these days are filled with problems and most everyday citizens will just pull out until the bickering is over. What a coup it would be to actually solve a denominational issue.
    I don’t think you can work on these two issues until technology is smartly used.

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