Texas Baptists Adopt 'Radical and Sweeping' Constitutional Changes

The Baptist General Convention of Texas, the largest state body affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, adopted a new constitution and bylaws that would give more power to its executive board.

Messengers to the BGCT annual meeting in Austin, Texas on Nov. 14-15 approved the constitutional changes – the most “radical and sweeping” since 1959, according to Wesley Shotwell, pastor of Ash Creek Baptist Church in Azle and chairman of the BGCT executive board’s governance committee.

Some of these changes include the reduction of the number of elected directors on the executive board from 230 to 90. Of these 30 percent are mandated to be of “non-Anglo persons.”

This new “streamlined governance structure” allows the board members to be more directly involved in the decision-making process, according to BGCT news.

In the past, Shotwell said the Executive Board was responsible for the decisions legally but most of the work was done through separate committee members. This structure made working “difficult” and created a “disconnect” between the Board and the committees.

Under the new approved constitution, the executive board will be re-composed of 90 members that come from different sectors across the state. These members will be assigned to serve on the various committees beneath them that do the day-to-day operations, including the Executive Committee, the Church Missions and Ministries Committee, the Institutional Relations Committee, the Administrative Support Committee and the Audit Committee.

“Finally, we have one set of bylaws to guide both convention and executive board directors,” Shotwell said during his remarks in support of the motion to adopt the new bylaws.

In addition, the changes give more power to the BGCT president and vice presidents, according to the convention’s executive director Charles Wade. For the first time, the two top officials would be “ex-officio voting members” of the new executive board.

“This is a noteworthy day. In the past, convention officers were not voting members of the executive board and did not sit on the [board’s] executive committee,” Wade said, according to BGCT.

The board is expected to transition to 90 members in the next two years since the current board members cannot be asked to resign or “be fired” under non-profit laws.
A total of 2,440 messengers and 844 visitors were tallied for the Austin meeting.