Everything decently and in order…


The Southern Baptist Convention has no employees or staff. In fact, only those persons who have been elected by the convention — i.e. the officers — may be considered to hold permanent position until a term expiration or they resign.

The Executive Committee, acting on behalf of the convention, is authorized to execute a contract with a certified parliamentarian. Bylaw 11 of the Southern Baptist Convention states:

Parliamentary Authority and Parliamentarians: The parliamentary authority of the Southern Baptist Convention shall be Robert’s Rules of Order (latest revised edition). The Convention president, in conference with the vice presidents, shall select a chief parliamentarian and assistant parliamentarians, as necessary, to advise the presiding officers of the Convention on matters of parliamentary procedure. The chief parliamentarian shall be a person of experience and knowledge, sufficient to qualify him or her to serve as parliamentarian to the Southern Baptist Convention, and he or she shall be certified by the American Institute of Parliamentarians and/or the National Association of Parliamentarians. It shall be the responsibility of the president and treasurer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to sign, on behalf of the Executive Committee, any contracts or letters of agreement related to the services of the chief parliamentarian.”

In February 2019, the Interim President of the Executive Committee, Augie Boto — acting on behalf of the Executive Committee at the request of the convention president — contracted with Southwestern Seminary professor, C. Barry McCarty, to serve as convention parliamentarian for the 2019 annual meeting in Birmingham.

The terms of the parliamentarian’s contract are as follows:

  • He/she shall be on-site in Birmingham, Ala. to render consultation advice from June 9, 2019, until the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention adjourns; and by phone or email to render such pre- or post-annual meeting consultation and advice as may be requested by the President of the Convention or by the Chief Executive Officer or appropriate vice president of the Executive Committee.
  • Under the terms of the current contract, the ONLY persons whom the convention parliamentarian may counsel or advise are current SBC President J.D. Greear, current SBC Executive Committee CEO Ronnie Floyd, and possibly Jonathan Howe, Sing Oldham (until his retirement later this year), and Ken Weathersby (until his retirement this year).
  • The convention parliamentarian is NOT authorized to advise entity leaders, the various boards of trustees, the standing committees of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Committee on Committees, the Committee on Registration, the Committee on Nominations, the Committee on Resolutions, nor any individual or group of messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • The convention parliamentarian is explicitly barred from issuing any “verbal or written advice or opinions to anyone other than the officers of the Southern Baptist Convention or appropriate staff of the Executive Committee.”
  • The parliamentarian is compensated $10,500 for services under the contract, paid in two installments of $5,250.00. This amount has held relatively steady for the past decade.
  • The parliamentarian’s documented expenses are reimbursed, including meals, lodging, round-trip transportation, postage, and any other out-of-pocket expenses.
  • The convention parliamentarian is barred form offering legal advice or legal opinions.
  • The parliamentarians is an independent contractor, and is not to be represented as an agent or employee of the Convention, any of its members, or organizations.
  • The parliamentarian’s services are purely advisory and all rulings on questions of order are made by the presiding officer of the Convention, who may or may not follow the parliamentarian’s advice.

To read the entire contract, click here.

The 2019 annual meeting was the 34th consecutive year that Dr. Barry McCarty has served as convention parliamentarian. This is the longest tenure of any non-elected individual receiving consecutive year-to-year contracts. Doubtlessly, the perennial renewal of this annual contract owes to the confidence Southern Baptist presidents have had in the parliamentary consultation provided by Dr. McCarty.

In 1986, then-SBC President Charles Stanley retained the services of Dr. McCarty, who was at the time a non-SBC minister and professor of public speaking and debate at Roanoke Bible College in Elizabeth City, N.C. He was formerly a N.C. members on the national Republican Party Committee on Permanent Organization, and his biographical information at the time of Stanley’s selection included his service as a “spokesman and lobbyist for state and national Right-to-Life groups.”

He was also a member and minister at a Church of Christ in Jarvisburg, N.C. That church is now a part of the “Restoration Movement.” He became a Southern Baptist in 2015.

During the 1986 annual meeting, a messenger requested that the Southern Baptist Convention “hire” a parliamentarian to serve at every annual convention. During a rather confusing floor debate, former SBC Executive Committee President Harold Bennett spoke against the motion, pointing out to the messengers that the convention does not have employees. Rather, Roberts Rules of Order provides that the presiding officer of the convention may appoint parliamentarians for the annual meeting as he/she deems necessary. This point was made by Dr. John Sullivan, who at the time was the chairman of the SBC Executive Committee Bylaws Workgroup.

To watch the 1986 floor debate over the issue of “hiring” a permanent convention parliamentarian, click here.

(Note: The Baptist Blogger is reviewing every parliamentary ruling and floor debate of the Southern Baptist Convention in an effort to assist Southern Baptists in their better understanding both of the Rules of Order and of the precedent(s) that have been set for the ordering of convention business. To view our first installment in a series entitled “SBC Parliamentary Fails,” click here.)



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