The Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas held a special called business meeting on June 16 to consider changes to the 2020 Annual Meeting in light of the global pandemic.
The board considered and unanimously approved a recommendation brought by Patrick Bradley, chair of the Committee on Annual Meeting (COAM), declaring that an emergency exists and that the meeting should be moved to a new location, which would be online. The COAM previously met for an online discussion and unanimously approved the recommendation during its regularly scheduled June 4 meeting.
Executive Director David Hardage shared with board members that the Convention’s Executive Leadership met with Convention and Board leaders to discuss moving the Annual Meeting to an online format for a number of reasons including safety of participants, logistics of large gatherings, feasibility and other factors. Executive leaders also conferred with the Convention’s legal counsel and parliamentarian to ensure an online format would fulfill constitutional requirements.
“We want to do it really well, and as we looked at it more and more, it became clear to us that to do a very effective virtual online Annual Meeting was going to take a lot of work,” Hardage said. “We needed to be out in advance of it so we could pull off and present to our Texas Baptists family as positive and professional an online meeting as we could.”
Craig Christina, associate executive director, also shared that the original location at the Waco Convention Center could not ensure 100 percent occupancy at the building, which would limit attendees to the in-person meeting. Based on the BGCT constitution, Article 4, Section 1, the Annual Meeting location can be moved in the event of an emergency.
Historically, the BGCT meeting has been moved two prior times. In 1897, the meeting moved from Weatherford to San Antonio due to a larger than anticipated crowd, and in 1918, the meeting was moved from November to December due to the spread of the Spanish Flu.
The 2020 Annual Meeting was scheduled to take place November 15-17 in Waco. Following the approved recommendation, Texas Baptist staff and COAM members will revise existing plans and inform churches accordingly.
Information on registering, voting and other aspects of the meeting will be mailed to Texas Baptist churches, and updates would also be posted to the Convention’s website at txb.org/am.