How to Make a Motion

A motion calls for specific action by the Southern Baptist Convention or requests specific action by one or more of its entities. A motion normally begins with “I move that... ”

1. Write the motion legibly. (If the motion is spontaneous and you do not have time to write it before presenting it to the Convention at a hall microphone, write the motion, as you stated it, before leaving the microphone area). Avoid any language in your motion that could be construed as mandating action by an SBC entity. These are typically held out of order for legal reasons. Instead, frame such motions as requests to the entity or entities. Such motions are usually referred to the entities for study and subsequent report back to the Convention. (Each year’s SBC Book of Reports contains such reports, a review of which may be instructive.)

2. Go to a floor microphone at a time when motions are being considered; note the microphone number.

3. Notify the microphone monitor of your desire to make a motion. Watch as the microphone monitor uses the screen to input your stated desire. Whether a microphone monitor assists or not, it is ultimately your responsibility to make your presence at the microphone known to the platform at the proper time by using the touchpad underneath the microphone. The presiding officer cannot see people at the microphones, nor will he recognize persons who call out to be recognized.

4. When your microphone is recognized by the presiding officer, state your name, the name and location of your church, and read your motion. Take care to voice your motion exactly as you have written it in order to avoid disparities between what you say from the floor and what the Committee on Order of Business will review, and any confusion that may result from such disparities. DO NOT argue the merits of your motion. If the motion later comes before the body for discussion, you will then be given the first opportunity to speak on behalf of your motion, after which discussion by others will follow, alternating between opponents and supporters so as to provide a balance of differing perspectives. Therefore, when the Committee on Order of Business later reports a recommendation regarding your motion, listen carefully to see whether the motion has been scheduled for consideration, and if it has, be ready at the announced time to speak to your motion.

5. Give the written copy of your motion to the page at the microphone before leaving. A page will take the copy of your motion to the platform so the motion may be entered into the record by the recording secretary. If a page is not at the microphone at which you present your motion, wait there until one has been summoned by the microphone monitor.

6.  In a subsequent report, the Committee on Order of Business will advise the messengers of the disposition the Committee proposes as to each of the motions made, at which time the Convention may take action on those proposals.

7. The titles of motions and the names and states of their presenters will be included in the proceedings of Tuesday’s sessions that are printed in Wednesday’s SBC Bulletin.

Speaking from a Floor Microphone

1.  Some elements of items 2–4 in the section To Make a Motion apply. Be at a microphone at the proper time, and make sure your desire to speak is properly characterized and input to the touch screen below the microphone at which you are standing. If a microphone monitor assists you with your entry, watch as it is being input, because the person desiring to speak (you) bears the responsibility for timely and accurate input to the touch screen.

2.  If in doubt as to proper timing in your use of the touch screen, do not wait for the presider to ask for input from the floor. Proceed to input your desire to speak. If you are recognized for another issue, tell the presider which issue you are there to speak to, and the presider will return to you when your issue comes to the floor.

3.  Be aware that the presider could use several phrases to welcome comment from the floor on any issue. He might say, “We come now to the issue of ...”; or, “Does anyone wish to speak to the issue?”; or, “Are you ready to vote?” If you have not entered a desire to speak on the touch screen immediately at that time (or slightly before), you will not be recognized.

4.  When recognized by the presiding officer, state your name, the fact that you are a messenger, the name and location of your church, and then voice your position and reasoning.

Bylaws Relating to Speaking from the Floor

SBC Bylaw 1C - A messenger may speak in debate for longer than three minutes only with the permission of the Convention granted by a two-thirds vote.

SBC Bylaw 1D - A messenger may introduce a second motion during a business session only if no other messenger is seeking the floor who has not made a motion during that session.

Customary Microphone Use

For many years, the Convention has followed the established custom of making the following microphones available as indicated:

The president’s microphone – available for use only by the SBC officers, the Executive Committee’s president, the Committee on Order of Business, the preacher of the Convention sermon, and other designees of the SBC president.

The platform presentation microphone – available for use by the Executive Committee, SBC entities, SBC committees, the WMU, and any other Convention-approved task force or body while any are giving or defending reports or recommendations. This microphone may also be used by any messenger to nominate a Convention officer.

The floor microphones – available for use at the proper time by any messenger to raise a motion, an amendment, a question, or a point of order.

Under Robert’s Rules of Order (section 2) this established custom has the force and effect of a rule of order.