Friday, March 24, 2006

Just Exactly What Is the Status of the Blue Book?

This Baptist Press article, in referencing the trustee vote regarding the new IMB trustee accountability guidelines states:

"Three trustees voted against the new policy, which adds to, but doesn't replace, the older policy, dubbed the "Blue Book."

This Baptist Press sentence needs some clarification.

The initial four page proposed document on trustee accountability, hand delivered to all trustees Tuesday night of last week's Board meeting, had the following statement at the very end of it:

{Note, this policy supersedes the document, Ordered by God, Manual for Trustees, which now becomes a reference document}.

The statement was large and was in bold letters just like above.

However, that statement was taken out by the joint committees working between plenary sessions on the proposed accountability document so that by Wednesday's plenary session, when a revised four page trustee policy manual was passed out, the statement had been completely removed.

That is why the Baptist Press can say the trustee accountability policy "adds to, but doesn't replace, the older policy, dubbed the "Blue Book." I do not recall hearing that said in business session, and I would be interested where the reporter received this information. I don't necessarily disagree with the reporter, I am just wondering where he heard this interpretation.

However, on the official web site of the IMB which lists the new trustee accountability guidelines, the statement that the Blue Book is superseded by the new policies is at the bottom of the page, even though that statement was not on the actual page that contained the amended proposal that passed with only three negative votes. I'm not sure even trustees are sure of the status of the Blue Book.

If the new policy manual "adds to" the Blue Book, it adds to it in a restrictive manner. Let me illustrate in just one area (the following is just an observation, no editorial comments, so it is not a criticism).

The Blue Book states "A trustee is to bring (his/her) voice to the meetings when serving, but is to also take (his/her) interpretations back to the people after adjournment" (page 33). We are called to put in a good word for the organization (the IMB).

The new trustee accountability policies document states:

"Individual IMB trustees must refrain from public criticism of Board approved actions."

Any public interpretation of the Board approved actions may now not include criticism from individual trustees.

So, if the new policies on add to the Blue Book, it adds restrictions (again, only observation, not a criticism).

However, if the Blue Book is superseded, then the Blue Book has no authority, but becomes simply a reference document. A reference document meeans you point back to something (refer to it) as in "Back in 1987 we adopted a fify page policy manual that governed our trustee responsibilities and accountability, but in 2006 we adopted a four page document that supersedes the Blue Book."

I believe there is a great deal of difference between the new policies simply clarifying and "adding to" the Blue Book and the Blue Book being "superseded" by the new policies. This issue needs to be clarified.

Again, this is only an observation, not a criticism.

In His Grace,


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