On June 1, after taking stock of the pandemic and its effects, the Sixth District Committee issued an amended call for an assembled convention to be held at Thomas Road Baptist Church on July 11, a mere nine days from today. As you know, in an assembled convention, delegates from the counties and cities in the District gather to choose their leaders.
At 11:30 last night, at a hastily called meeting of the Sixth District’s Executive Committee, Jennifer Brown and her supporters voted to tear up the Convention planning, and instead constitute an unassembled convention with, and this is the critical point, online voting.
The vote was taken at a meeting supposedly called to address other business. Changing the Convention did not appear on the agenda. Nor was the proposed change raised by Brown with anyone outside her coterie ahead of time. In short, Brown and Co. engaged in a secretive and sudden coup, in order to fundamentally alter the Convention.
The vote to allow online voting is invalid, for at least three reasons. First, the Executive Committee acts in place of and on behalf of the full Committee, when the full Committee cannot act. The Executive Committee is subordinate to the full Committee, and does not have the power to overrule the full Committee, which is exactly what happened when it approved online voting.
Second, the Convention is held subject to a Call, which must be issued (or reissued, if the fundamental terms are amended) on thirty days’ notice. Adding online voting fundamentally alters the nature of a Convention (which by definition is a ‘convening’ or gathering of delegates) by allowing those who do not attend to vote. Such a change requires the call to be reissued on notice.
Third, the proposed change would turn the Convention into a ‘virtual convention’–one that is conducted largely or entirely online rather than by delegates who attend in person. But the party’s Plan does not permit virtual conventions. Indeed, the State Central Committee considered and rejected a proposal to allow virtual conventions during the current pandemic. Accordingly, virtual conventions are not permitted in the Plan, and have been explicitly rejected by the SCC for inclusion in it.
Worse, the proposed change is based on an untruth. Brown represented to the Committee that a representative of TRBC had told her TRBC was unwilling to host an assembled convention. But Doc Troxel, a member of both the Committee and TRBC, called Associate Pastor Iain Lyttle on July 2 and learned the facts of the matter. Pastor Lyttle confirmed that it was Brown, not TRBC, who brought up the idea of an unassembled convention. Pastor Lyttle also confirmed, at least as of that time, that TRBC was still ready, willing and able to hold an assembled convention.
Whether that willingness will fail in the face of the chaos and dissension caused by Brown & Co. is another question. And, to be clear, if the venue were a bona fide problem, no one on the Committee would have a problem with holding an unassembled convention. The issue here is that the action of one candidate and her supporters has created the problem, by attempting to upend the Convention at the eleventh hour, in a way that is not permissible under the party Plan and for reasons that seem to be at odds with the facts.
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We are a diverse party. Moreover, we continually hold elections, which produce both winners and losers. When the balloting is over, what allows us to come together is the confidence that, win or lose, the process was fair and everybody played by the same rules. If candidates who do not like their chances in an election continually try to change the rules in the middle of the game, or just disrupt the process by failing to fulfill their obligations as party officers, we will continue to erode that confidence and undermine the unity of the party. The people of the Sixth District and the leadership of the RPV should repudiate this effort, and uphold the authority of the full Committee and the Party Plan.
Jeffrey R. Adams is a Representative of the 6th District Committee to the SCC.