SBC Governing Documents

SUMMARY: Governing documents have figured into discussions, actions, and inactions regarding sexual abuse — especially regarding boundaries of “cooperation,” local church autonomy, and authority and processes to expel churches deemed not in alignment with the SBC on responses to sexual abuse issues. This page links to the SBC website posts of key institutional documents: charter, constitution, bylaws, business and financial plan, legal names of all SBC entities, organization manual, and historical versions of the Baptist Faith and Message.

SOURCE NOTES: Some of this material was originally posted on June 8, 2019, as a segment in the Twitter Moment entitled, Systemic Sexual Abuse in SBC Part 1: Source Documents and News 2000-2017. I summarized it there: “This thread lists key historical materials and news/analysis from 2000-2017, mostly from official SBC sources. Topics relate to ongoing systemic issues of sexual abuse and sexual predators in SBC churches and entities (e.g., IMB). Part 2 covers 2018-2019.” I have edited the content slightly to spell out abbreviations and format titles.

Additional details and links come from the official SBC website. NOTE: the SBC altered the structure of its website sometime in 2020 or 2021. Where necessary, I use links from the internet archive Wayback Machine, so the material I link to is what was available when I posted this SBC Abuse Solutions site in January 2020.

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GOVERNING DOCUMENT: SBC CONSTITUTION. At this link are the entire text of the SBC Constitution, plus links to: Charter, Bylaws, Business and Financial Plan, Legal Names, and Organization Manual. (Links and descriptions from this webpage are below the contents list for the Constitution.)

Legal documentation


Charter. An ACT to incorporate the Southern Baptist Convention.


Constitution. The messengers from missionary societies, churches, and other religious bodies of the Baptist denomination in various parts of the United States met in Augusta, Georgia, May 8, 1845, for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intention of our constituents by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel and adopted rules and fundamental principles which, as amended from time to time, are as follows:


Bylaws. In order to carry out the provisions of the Constitution, the following Bylaws are adopted for the government of the Convention.


Business and Financial Plan. Convention budget, operating budgets, funds and all business and financial related information.

Business and financial plan

Legal Names. Legal names of corporations related to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Legal names

Organization Manual. In 1960 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted the following bylaw. It shall be the function of the Executive Committee: – To maintain an official organization manual defining the responsibilities of each agency of the Convention for conducting specific programs and for performing other functions.

Organization manual

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GOVERNING DOCUMENT: BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE 2000. This link gives the entire text of BFM2000 with Scriptures, plus links to: Introduction, Message from Chairman, Feedback, Study Committee Members, Preamble, Commentary on Article XVIII/The Family, more.

GOVERNING DOCUMENT: BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE 2000. At this link is a side-by-side comparison of three version of the Baptist Faith and Message: 1925, 1963 (with 1998 amendment on The Family), and 2000.

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