At the meeting on Oct. 6-8 in New Orleans, trustees of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary have unanimously voted against request by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee to name the SBC the "sole member" of the seminary's corporation without any dissent.
New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley held strong objection to the change and showed much concern about dangers of forming any kind of “connectionalism” with SBC while losing traditional Baptist autonomy by adopting the request.
However New Orleans trustees did approve of keeping their “deep and abiding commitment to the SBC.”
In a chapel address, beginning of current academic year, Kelley addressed students, faculty and staff of importance of maintaining relationship with SBC by supporting the changes in leadership that have occurred within the convention over the past 25 years but not allowing any possibility of forming connectionalism.
He and trustees also objected to the change in prevention of deviating from Louisiana law, which is strictly based on the Napoleonic Code rather than the British Common Law tradition upon which the other 49 states base their legal codes.
All other SBC entities have agreed to the request with the intention of preventing any possibility of a seminary or mission board breaking away from national denomination.
Executive Committee President Morris Chapman expressed disappointment in the trustees' rejection.
"I deeply regret the New Orleans Seminary board of trustees has chosen to pass on this opportunity to secure that institution for SBC posterity," he said. "Had the board adopted the Southern Baptist Convention as sole member, it would have legally clarified the seminary's relationship to the convention, the seminary's parent corporation and benefactor. More importantly, as sole member, the Southern Baptist Convention could have more easily protected the Cooperative Program, the financial lifeline for all our entities, from the avarice of today's new breed of aggressive litigators."