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SBC considers merging DC, Md.-Del. conventions comment (0)

February 28, 2013

WASHINGTON — Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will vote in June on a proposal to no longer recognize the District of Columbia Baptist Convention as a qualified state entitled to representation on SBC governing boards.

Staff of the SBC Executive Committee said Feb. 19 the proposed change is in response to complaints that current trustees are chosen from only a small number of D.C. churches actively involved in Southern Baptist life, creating impressions of favoritism. A single congregation, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, has provided 40 of 65 D.C. Baptist representatives during the past 10 years, according to background materials provided to committee members.

While leaders said there have been no complaints about the service of the trustees from Capitol Hill Baptist, the trend goes against an unspoken tradition of trying to choose representation from as broad a number of congregations as possible.

A proposal set for vote at the Executive Committee’s pre-convention meeting in June would establish a new territory merging the D.C. convention with the adjoining Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

The new arrangement would alter connections that make the District of Columbia convention uniquely aligned not only with Southern Baptists but also with other Baptist groups including American Baptist Churches USA. Historically the arrangement was presented as a unified witness that unlike other cities, the nation’s capital transcends geography and belongs to all U.S. citizens.

The SBC once funded the DC convention to the tune of $475,000 a year. That ended in 2003, when D.C. Baptists turned down a cooperative agreement giving the SBC North American Mission Board greater control over how those funds would be expended.

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