ARCHIVES: The year a woman was nominated to preach the SBC annual sermon

In 1988, Dr. Tom Elliff was serving as the Chairman of the SBC Committee on Order of Business. The committee nominated Dr. Morris Chapman of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, TX, to serve as the convention preacher for the 1989 annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV.

Pastor Larry Coleman, a messenger from the Bellewood Baptist Church of North Syracuse, NY, nominated the Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested to serve as the 1989 convention preacher. Rev. Hastings Sehested had been elected as pastor of the Prescott Memorial Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. In October 1987, the church was expelled from the Shelby Baptist Association.

Dr. John Sullivan was also nominated, but declined to allow his name to stand for election.

Pastor Coleman went on to pastor the Churchland Baptist Church in Chesapeake, VA, which is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Parliamentary Note:  The longtime convention parliamentarian, Dr. Barry McCarty, advised the chair that the convention was not allowed to vote up or down on the nomination of Rev. Hastings Sehested.  McCarty said: “When you are voting on nominations and elections — except when you’re voting by ballot — the procedure is to take the ‘ayes’ and the ‘noes’ on each candidate in the order that they were nominated. Hence, if nominee number one — if he failed to be elected — then you would move to nominee number two and so on down the line. If nominee number one is elected, which he was in this case by a clear majority, then there is no reason to proceed. That is the procedure outlined by the convention’s parliamentary authority, and hence that’s the reason it was the procedure followed by the chair.”

There are some Roberts Rules interpretations that clearly state this is NOT the procedure, and it is NEVER in order to vote “FOR” or “AGAINST” a candidate when electing persons to office.

According to this interpretation, the ONLY way to vote AGAINST a nominee is to vote FOR ANOTHER nominee. Put another way, there should have been a chance for messengers to vote for a properly nominated and qualified candidate.

Nevertheless, we are also advised that Roberts Rule 47 could allow for this manner of voting UNLESS the messenger requested a ballot vote.  In that case, the presiding officer would have either ordered a ballot vote or denied the request for ballot.  The messenger still would have had a remaining life-line and could have “moved” that a ballot be taken. In that final case, the convention would vote (probably by raised ballot) on whether or not to take a ballot vote.

In either case, it’s instructive to see how the convention has handled these matters in the past.  Enjoy!

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