Earlier today, SBC Executive Committee President, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, notified the public that the forthcoming SBC Annual Meeting, scheduled June 9-10 in Orlando, FL, has been officially cancelled. Like many other events throughout our world today, the COVID-19 outbreak is the source of this closure.
Writing in an official notification email, Dr. Floyd remarked, “In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic which we believe constitutes a grave emergency, it is in the best interest of the SBC to cancel the Annual Meeting—for the first time in 75 years—out of a deep concern for the health and safety of messengers and attendees.”
In his communiqué, Dr. Floyd also called for Baptists to fervently pray for the end of the global pandemic impacting so many, with the encouragement not to “shrink back in timidity and fearfulness”, but rather, to continue advancing the Gospel.
The cancellation of such a critical event in the life of our convention will lead many to ask questions about logistics, refunds and the important business handled throughout our annual meetings. Thankfully, the SBC Executive Committee has provided a very useful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, we are linking here, which is also embedded below in long-form below.
SBC CANCELLATION FAQ
01. Why is the SBC Annual Meeting canceled?
The SBC Annual Meeting scheduled for June 9-10, 2020 in Orlando, Florida is canceled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which constitutes a grave emergency.
02. Who canceled it?
The Convention officers, the Executive Committee, and the executive heads of the Convention’s boards and institutions acted in a body to cancel the meeting.
03. What was the authority to cancel?
This authority is given in SBC Constitution Article XI.4, which states “The Convention officers, the Executive Committee, and the Executive Heads of the Convention’s boards and institutions acting in a body may, in case of grave emergency, cancel a regular meeting or change the place of a meeting.” The authority for this body to cancel a meeting was established in 1946 after the Convention had been forced to cancel meetings in 1943 and 1945 due to government restrictions during World War II.
04. Will it be rescheduled?
The annual meeting is not being rescheduled. The next regular meeting will be in Nashville on June 15-16, 2021.
05. What about the SBC presidency and other officer positions?
SBC officers will remain in office until their successors are elected.
06. What about the SBC Pastors’ Conference?
The SBC Pastor’s Conference is a separate event. David Uth, president of the 2020 Pastors’ Conference and pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando, has confirmed that as an auxiliary meeting to the annual meeting, the pastors’ conference would be canceled as well.
07. Why can’t the convention be held online with remote voting?
Although SBC Annual Meetings have been live-streamed for years, SBC governing documents state that “No proxy voting is permitted. All propositions, decisions, and choices shall be by a majority vote of the messengers present and voting in person, except where provisions have been made for a greater than majority vote.”
08. What happens to the SBC budget if the Convention does not meet to pass it?
In the event that the Convention does not meet, the Executive Committee, by virtue of its ad interim authority, may adopt the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget and the Executive Committee and SBC Operating Budget so that operations may continue.
09. What about other convention business?
The members of standing committees whose terms expire will remain in office until their successors are elected. The Committee on Nominations is a special committee and remains in existence until it gives its report, so its members remain in office. The Executive Committee may fill any vacancies that occur.
The Committee on Committees and Committee on Resolutions are special committees appointed by the president. Any committee members already appointed remain in office until the committees perform their assigned tasks at the next meeting. The president may fill any vacancies that occur.
Trustees of Convention entities whose terms are scheduled to expire in 2020 will either remain in office until successors are elected or rotate out of office upon completion of term, with their boards electing interim trustees until the next SBC meeting. This would depend upon each entity’s individual charter.
Any intended resolutions may be submitted prior to the next annual meeting, beginning April 15, 2021. Any intended motions may be made during the next annual meeting in Nashville.
10. What about advance Convention hotel reservations made through the official SBC Online Hotel Registration System?
All advance hotel reservations made through the SBC Annual Meeting Online Hotel Registration System will be cancelled automatically for all planned attendees. No advance charges have been made to any reservation holders’ credit cards by our event housing partner, Experient. You may contact our housing bureau at 1-800-967-8852 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions.
Additionally, advance attendee reservation information has not been released to any hotel, so hotels do not have any information which would allow them to make charges to reservation holders credit cards. Again, all advance hotel reservations for the SBC Annual Meeting in June will be considered cancelled.
11. What about advance Convention hotel reservations made directly with a hotel?
If you made your advance hotel reservation directly with a hotel in the Orlando area, you would need to contact that hotel directly to cancel your reservations and work through their individual cancellation policy. The SBCEC is unable to assist with any changes or reimbursements for reservations made separately from the SBC Annual Meeting Online Hotel Registration System.
12. What should I do about my advance airline travel reservations?
If you have already made airline reservations, you would need to contact your airline carrier directly to cancel or change your reservations. Due to the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many airline carriers have enacted special provisions to accommodate the many travel interruptions for their customers.
13. What about refunds for Convention childcare reservations?
All prepaid childcare reservations managed by the SBC Executive Committee will be fully refunded. Our online childcare reservations system currently accepts credit card payments through PayPal to process all advance payments. A credit will be issued to your credit card for the full amount of any prepayment. If for some reason this is not feasible, a refund check for the full amount will be mailed directly to the address that was used for the childcare pre-registration. Please email email@example.com for any other questions regarding Preschool Childcare, Giant Cow Ministries or Youth on Mission reservations. All refunds will be issued no later than April 15, 2020.
14. What if we have ancillary events scheduled around the Convention meeting?
All ancillary events currently scheduled to use meeting/event spaces managed by the SBC Executive Committee (Rosen Centre Hotel or Orange County Convention Center) will be considered canceled.
For ancillary events scheduled at meeting/event spaces not managed by the SBC Executive Committee (Rosen Centre Hotel or Orange County Convention Center), you should contact the individual ancillary event organizers directly for additional information.
15. What about refunds for reserved meeting room reservation costs for ancillary events scheduled to occur at event spaces managed by the SBC Executive Committee?
All prepaid meeting room reservations will be fully refunded. Any reservations that were made by credit card through PayPal will be issued a credit directly to your credit card for the full amount of any prepayment. If you prepaid by using a check from your organization, a refund check for the full amount will be mailed directly to the address that was used for meeting room reservation. All refunds will be issued before April 15, 2020.
16. What about refunds for meetings that we might have contracted directly for conference spaces managed by other hotels (not managed by the SBC Executive Committee)?
If you made reservations for meeting space directly with an Orlando hotel, you would need to contact that hotel directly to cancel your reservations and work through their contracted cancellation policy. The SBCEC is unable to assist with any changes or reimbursements for meeting space reservations made directly with local hotels.
17. What about refunds for planned SBC Annual Meeting sponsorships or advertisements managed by the SBC Executive Committee?
Any advance payments for sponsorships or promotional advertising for the SBC 2020 Annual Meeting will be fully refunded to your organization before April 15, 2020.
Regarding ads in the SBC Life Journal, please contact Rebecca Manry (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information regarding current plans or for continued advertising/promotional opportunities in the SBC Life Journal.
18. What about refunds for exhibitor reservations managed by the SBC Executive Committee?
Any deposits or advance payments for exhibitor reservations will be fully refunded as either a credit to the card used for the original payment or by a full refund check to your organization for the full amount. Please email email@example.com for any exhibitor questions. All refunds will be issued before April 15, 2020.
19. How do we reserve exhibit space for the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting scheduled to be held June 15-16, 2021, in Nashville?
Online Exhibit Reservations for the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting will begin August 3, 2020, for those exhibitors who had approved reservations to exhibit at the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting. The SBC Executive Committee will follow the same general reservation process that we use onsite each year to manage reservation requests, although for 2021, we will coordinate all exhibit requests virtually through a new online reservation system. Email notifications will be sent out to all current and pending exhibitors notifying them of this process when it is finalized.
New exhibitors may request exhibit space beginning October 1, 2020 by submitting inquiries through the online exhibitor portal at sbcannualmeeting.net.
20. What about costs that I might have already incurred in preparation for the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting?
Unfortunately, the SBC Executive Committee is only able to assist with recouping the costs specifically identified above.