Friday, June 14, 2013

SBC annual meeting attendance, elections, and resolutions

I am a statistics junkie, an interest that goes back to my baseball days and batting averages, slugging percentages, etc. So SBC stats are interesting to me, if not to many others.

Registration was 5,013, the lowest number for an annual meeting held in one of the Bible Belt southern states since World War II. The attendance was lower in 2011 but the meeting was in Phoenix.

One has to conclude that these meetings just aren't what they used to be and, absent a raging controversy that is a lot hotter than the Calvinist/Traditionalist one, we will likely not see numbers above ten thousand again.

Many have proposed alternatives such as regional meetings in addition to the main convention location. While this is doable, I'm not optimistic that there is any will to change. If SBC pastors and others do not see a lot of value in attending the annual meeting when it is in a location proximate to where the greatest concentration of SBC churches are located, I doubt they will see much value in several such locations.

One result of lower registration is seen in election results. For two consecutive years the office of 2nd Vice President was won (a) by a reasonably well known blogger, (b) by a Calvinist blogger, and (c)  at a time when most messengers were not present and voting.

Here are the figures:

2012 SBC Annual Meeting, New Orleans   

      Total registration, 7,484
      First  ballot for 2VP:
                  Dave Miller,    673
                  Eric Hankins, 572
                  Brad Akins,    370

      Second ballot:
                  Dave Miller,    1,202
                  Eric Hankins,    798

Miller was elected at a time when about 27% of messengers were present and voting.

2013 SBC Annual Meeting, Houston   
       Total registration, 5,103

       2VP ballot:
              Jared Moore, 451
              Don Cass,       223

Moore was elected at a time when about 13% of messengers were present and voting.

I doubt that there has been a convention officer elected with fewer votes in a century. Some enterprising researcher can look that up.

One might conclude that bloggers are now in a position to pull a significant number of votes, especially at times when most messengers are drinking coffee and browsing the bookstore and exhibit hall.

With so few in attendance, and with the resolutions being presented on Wednesday when many messengers have already left, there is the potential for some mischief in resolutions. Issues of national interest like the Boy Scout controversy and clergy sexual abuse usually generate some mainstream media interest. A goofball amendment supported by just a few hundred of the millions of Southern Baptists could embarrass us. Thankfully, no such goofball was foisted on the convention this year.

On resolutions, we might consider taking the course of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which does not do resolutions, but this would deprive many SBCers of a fun time where they get to have their moment of fame at a mic. I hardly think the SBC would be harmed by eschewing resolutions and our Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission can speak for us and should on important matters. I don't see any change in the resolution process, however.

Next year the convention is in Baltimore, a non-traditional location though still south of the Mason-Dixon Line. There will be a contested presidential election (Eric Hankins? Ronnie Floyd? J. D. Greear, David Platt or of one of the other young turks? Blogger?) which should ensure attendance greater than this year.

I'm saving my pennies and planning to make the trek.


Bob Allen said...

Makes one wonder if the election is legal. From SBC Constitution and Bylaws:

Quorum: The quorum for conducting business during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention shall be a minimum of 25 percent of those duly registered and seated messengers.

William Thornton said...

Good point. Perhaps the moderator and Barry McCarty surveyed the crowd and ruled that there was a quorum present and, absent a challenge from the floor, the voting proceded.

Anonymous said...

There could have been a quorum present but many not interested in voting.

Anonymous said...

It will be a miracle if they have 2,000 in Baltimore. Such are the signs of the times.

Lee said...

I will see you there. It's a little less than a four hour drive to Baltimore, and that means I can spend the week in one of my favorite cities to visit (Washington, DC) and commute the thirty minutes.