By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LAFAYETTE – Unhappy with a procedural process, a messenger at the 167th Annual Meeting decried his inability to speak to a motion.
Messenger Jay Adkins, pastor of First Westwego, asked to speak after the executive board declined to recommend any action on his 2013 motion about the supposed conflict the Executive Director has on entity boards as ex officio.
In 2013, Adkins and messenger Lewis Richerson proposed two motions seeking to remove the ability of the state executive director to vote on convention boards. They were referred to the Executive Committee for study which denied both during the committee’s report on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
Adkins attempted to appeal the decision, however, LBC President Steve Horn ruled him to be out of order. Adkins mistakenly thought he would be afforded the opportunity to speak as is the case in the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting however Horn informed him the LBC has no such rules in its bylaws.
Not satisfied with the ruling, Adkins continued to protest saying he had only three minutes to address the administrative team about his motion in the spring. Adkins said he asked questions of the administrative team, of which he received no answers, nor did anyone ask any questions of him. He said he was not afforded the opportunity to speak further on the motion.
“Now I want everyone to go home with the opportunity to have said your piece,” said Horn, who also is pastor of First Baptist Church in Lafayette. “I would say as your president, as moderator of this convention, that I want you to have your say and I want this convention actually vote on this matter. It is my opinion that the way to vote on this matter and everyone have their say yeah or nay, agree or disagree with the report, is to have a motion on the report and everyone then debate that matter and have a vote and let’s be done with it and not carry the conversation about this matter beyond this convention.”
Adkins said the reasons given in the 2014 Book of Reports was “seriously deficient parliamentary, hermeneutically and philosophically. The last one is just a logical fallacy. I would like to be able simply to speak to the body to respond to my motion. That’s all I’m asking.”
Reasons stated in the Book of Reports were:
• “charters of the LBC boards are not in conflict with the LBC governing documents by naming the Executive Director of the LBC as a member of the respective boards
• “The provision in the Louisiana College charter naming the LBC executive director as a member of the college board of trustees is not evidence of undue influence under the rules of this Convention or of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, the college’s accrediting body”
• “The recent (2006) addition of the Executive Director to the LC board of trustees, a practice common to other state Baptist convention schools, is particularly useful to the LBC.”
Teresa Seymour, a messenger from Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria, spoke in support of Adkins’ appeal.
Seymour believes the undue influence is “the core issue that will keep LC from being a regionally accredited school and will seriously diminish its regional impact. The students there, the alumni there, the faculty and staff there do a fabulous job of bringing Christ’s message to the world.”
Philip Robertson, a messenger and pastor from Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville, made a motion to allow debate to take place.
“I thank the Executive Board for all of the burdens and effort and obviously prayers they have put into this,” he said. “I believe it’s a great value to have our Executive Director as an active voting participant on our boards and institutions and agencies. This has been as we have said already a long-standing practice in our convention. And I just believe it’s a tremendous asset.”
Adkins, who recently resigned during the final meeting of his term as a Louisiana College board of trustee, said he has much information to share, though he noted much has been posted on his blog. He hinted that sometime after the Annual Meeting he could file an official complaint against the school with SACS, noting that speaking at last week’s Annual Meeting was the final step before he exhausted every avenue available.
“I have talked with the Executive Director independently, there was no resolution,” Adkins said. “I talked with the Executive Board of Louisiana College, there was no resolution. The full board of Louisiana College, there was no resolution. I came to the body last year, it’s been passed off to the Executive Board. No resolution.
“I am now talking to the body and depending on what this body does, after this decision today, I will have exhausted all of my avenues except to make an official complaint to SACS for the first time and I will present to them audio recorded evidence of every meeting we have had that shows undue and external influence of our state Executive Director on the Louisiana College board of trustees.”
Eddie Wren, a pastor and messenger from First Baptist Church in Rayville, said his church has much interest in the success of Louisiana College, as they have committed to giving $10,000 a year for five years to the school.
“I have known Dr. David Hankins for somewhere around 20 years and have known him to be a man of great integrity, a man of great leadership and I consider him a friend,” he said. “As we gave $50,000 to LC we took great joy in knowing that our Executive Director would be sitting here on those trustee meetings. And we trust him. And we thank God for him. And we thank God for your influence. And may it continue to be so.”
Lewis Richerson, a pastor and messenger from Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, said he opposed Robertson’s statement. He contended the role of an Executive Director on a board should be that of ex officio and not voting.
“I believe that the Baptist polity of our churches should be the driving force for the Baptist polity of our convention,” Richerson said. “At our churches, pastors serve as ex officio members of the various committees. However, the large majority, including myself, serve ex officio upon our voting. Why we ask? Because Baptists have always rejected the centralization of power. We have historically not been in favor of investing too much power in the hands of one individual. We have understood the depravity of humanity and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
After the meeting, Louisiana Baptist Convention Greg Erwin, who has been an attorney for more than 30 years, told the Baptist Message that if Adkins and others do not want to allow the Executive Director to serve and vote as a member of one of the entity boards, the only way to do so is to ask each of the entities’ boards to pass an amendment in their articles of incorporation to state the Executive Director cannot serve or vote on the board in any way. Each entity board will then have to bring the amendment changes back to the messengers of the LBC for approval.
Addressing the issue Adkins brought up regarding SACS, Erwin said SACS did not place Louisiana College on probation because of the Executive Director serving on the board.
“That’s not stated anywhere,” he said. “And we followed up and talked to [SACS] and they said it didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Adkins attempt to ask questions after the LC report, which was denied, is what motivated a motion by Ken Fryer, a messenger and staff member at Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, which asked the LBC to allow for questions at the report times of the four entities and the Executive Director’s report was sent to John Carrigan, chairman of the LBC Order of Business Committee and pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Prairieville.
Carrigan said the way Fryer’s motion was worded meant it would only be applicable for the 2014 LBC Annual Meeting. Therefore, they crafted a substitute motion to allow a question and answer time during the reports of the four entities and the Executive Director for all future Annual Meetings. The motion passed.
“I do believe this to be a friendly amendment and thank Brother John and their committee for their work in crafting the motion,” Fryer said. “I support the motion and urge the body to pass the motion. Thank you.”