BCOQ Bylaw DRAFT dated September 26, 2003
We realize that the task of drafting bylaws is a considerable undertaking and that in the process some impressions are not as visible to the drafter as to the critic. Thank you to the drafters both for your draft and for your openness to feedback. If the drafters' vision for Convention is that of a body serving its constituents, my comments may be helpful; if in exercising authority over the churches (Mat. 20:25ff), then they will not be helpful
If we hold to the principle that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour and the head of the Church founded on the compassionate love of God, and if we accept The Mission Statement and Core Values of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (Appendix C, 2000 Annual Report Book), then we must question the underlying central power strain running through the bylaw (not far below its surface) and reject a number of its specifics. The Bylaw in general reads contrary to my understanding of a Baptist, congregationally based, cooperative, structure.
Our Mission Statement suggests that Convention exists to assist the churches (not to "direct,"
remove form membership, etc), and the Core Values of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and
Quebec include the elevation of the Lordship of Christ as head and example, soul liberty, freedom of
conscience, and the autonomy and community of the local congregation. Anything in the Bylaw
which contradicts these needs to be extricated.
Membership in BCOQ churches consists of those churches choosing to affiliate with Associations and accepted by their Association. The Board neither accepts nor rejects church congregations. The Assembly welcomes and celebrates the arrival of new congregations which have been accepted by their immediate communities, the Associations.
One would think that the acceptance or rejection of an Association would be of such major importance as to be considered by an Assembly (or Annual Meeting) of the Convention, not a matter for decision by The Board. I doubt that Jesus would condone such arrogance as would exist if the Bylaw were to be approved as drafted?
The Bylaw not only violates our polity but is inconsistent within its own wording. For example:
(1) A Church could be accepted by an Association and denied by the Board.
Where would that leave a congregation?
(2) the last paragraph of 1.2.2 is inconsistent with 1.1.
The suggested addition 1.2.1.(d) which would allow the Board to sever a congregation's membership on the basis of non or inadequate payment is a curious twist to the traditional free-will offerings of Baptists. Causes have to win or earn support. The Spirit may lead congregations to vital Baptist ministries which do not include BCOQ. We would not suggest that the Board is greater than the Spirit, I trust.
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2. OFFICERS, etc
The Officers, including the Executive Minister, are all appointed by the Assembly and accountable to The Assembly. The Executive Minister takes day-to-day direction from the Board; the Treasurer takes day-to-day direction from the Executive Minister, both within the Mission Statement, procedures, policies and core values defined by the Convention in Assembly
The concept is that one is accountable to the body which appoints that one. Officers and senior employees are then afforded the protection of those who select them and not subject to the whims of a smaller group which may gain a more narrow interest in the fray of attempting to deal with specific situations (eg the Board could not direct the lifestyle of a homosexual officer unless the Assembly directed a policy relating to the sexual orientation of its employees.)
2.2 EXECUTIVE STAFF
Positions can only be added or deleted by the Assembly. These are budgetary matters. Similarly, responsibilities of Executive staff will be defined and modified by Assembly prior to their inclusion/revision in Convention Budgets.
Appointments are to be made by Assembly, thereby maintaining a semblance, at least, of the democratic, representative life of Baptists. Clerical and support staff, responsible to Executive Staff members, may be appointed by the Executive Minister or Executive staff to whom they report, all within the budgetary allowances and constraints set out by Assembly.
Other changes to the bylaw will fall from this principle, but are not detailed here-following.
3. THE ASSEMBLY
a) add: "and policy directives"
e) not "ratify," but appoint Executive Minister and other Executive Staff (naturally, the Assembly will receive proposals and recommendations).
f) add: financial statements
The elected officers of the Convention and other voting members of the Board need not be voting delegates. This demonstrates their servant attitude to be subject to the will of the Assembly. They may, however, be delegates of their own churches if their churches so choose. The appearance of equality of voting rights is maintained.
3.6 MONEY APPEALS
A resolution may be referred to the Board, but a motion of a direction of funds or an amendment to
a budget cannot be changed by the Board. Power rests with the body which controls the money.
That power belongs to the cooperating churches represented by their delegates to Assembly, not the
Board. The Board may not override the will of The Assembly. When it (or Council) has, it has
ceased to work on behalf of the churches, to whom it owes its existence, and has become a power on
its own, usurping the Spirit of Him who is head of the Church.
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4. THE BOARD
4.2.1 Powers - add: "the Board shall not act in contravention to any directive, policy or principle established by Assembly."
220.127.116.11 objectives, goals, strategies, policies etc, etc shall be subject to the approval of the Assembly
.18.104.22.168 Alignments - the Board shall propose, the Assembly shall decide. (Re-alignments are not of such critical nature that they need to be made between Assemblies.)
22.214.171.124. Property - The Board may not obligate the Convention beyond the limit of approved budgets or monies available to it. In the event that the Board should undertake a property purchase or lease which does not gain approval of Assembly, the members of the Board shall assume both financial and legal obligation for the property shared equally among all members of the Board voting in favour of the action at the time.
The sale of properties must be within the jurisdiction of a policy approved by Assembly. For example, the Board should not be empowered to sell the property of a congregation which is not currently in the Board's favour.
126.96.36.199. Policy Document - the document shall be easily assessable to any/all members of the churches. (Recall that in Assembly about a decade ago the then Chair of the Department of Ministry/Pastoral Resources reported to Assembly his astonishment at the number of policies which he found had been developed regulating clergy within the denomination - his astonishment was that he, a longstanding clergyman, was not hitherto aware of them, nor did he agree with some of them. The Assembly discussion asked for disclosure of them - which has yet to be made.) If we want support and cooperation, is it not wise to involve the folk whom we want to support us?
4.2.3 should read policy recommendations - the Assembly should make policy decisions.
4.4 It is interesting to note that the Bylaw designates committees with respect finance and ministry (presumably as a control on ministers) but not on C.E., Youth, mission & ministry, membership development, communication, or aspects of congregational life - polity, ethics etc. Does this suggest the priorities of BCOQ (money and directives to clergy)? I don't see these as the priorities which will help our churches to evangelize our neighbours in Ontario & Quebec.
4.4.1 I must have missed where responsibility is assigned for operating within the budgetary
allowances and constraints set out by Assembly!
5. CONCERNING BOARDS & COMMITTEES
5.2.3 It is interesting that we open and democratic Baptists have secret committee meetings. Why would they not all be open to members of the churches? Certainly, to be able to conduct the business of the committee visitors cannot take over the floor, but should have the freedom to observe.
5.5 Disqualification the exclusions for "bankruptcy" and "of unsound mind" need to be qualified. Who determines when a member is morally bankrupt? Is financial bankruptcy according to some secular authority? Who determines that a member is of unsound mind vs. simply not agreeing with a power broker?
5.7 Conflict of interest - is it sufficient only to give up the member's vote? Or does the member have
to extricate her/himself from discussion. I ministered a church for over 20 years and exercised a lot
of influence without a vote in Council or Committee.