The history of the Baptist churches in America is sharply marked by the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention on May 10, 1845. The generally accepted story is that the trigger was that Baptists in the South had sought input from the Northern-based Baptist associations -- the associations cooperated in discussing church and doctrinal issues but, as the SBC today, left the final authority in the local church -- as to the appointment of slaveholders to association leadership. The associations said "No," and the basis for a split was set up. But that isn't the whole story. The issue was primarily home missions, and the feeling among Baptists in the South that their needs as a region of the U.S. were being neglected by the Northern associations, not having the beginnings of urban organization that were becoming prevalent in the North. The South was, and would remain for another 75 years, primarily rural in nature. This made the Southern churches suspicious of the association, or societal, mode of relationship vs. convention (as it later became known) mode of relationship. Robert A. Baker writes in his Southern Baptist Beginnings ... Baptists, like other denominations which give final authority to the local churches, have had difficulty in trying to form an effective general body without threatening the local authority. This was the reason that the association-type plan had been viewed with suspicion by some churches, resulting in the adoption of the society plan for missionary and other Christian work. In safeguarding the authority of the churches, however, the society plan made it difficult to secure unity and effectiveness in denominational work. Southern Baptists, at their meeting in 1845, deliberately rejected the method of having a separate society for each kind of Christian service. They chose instead to follow the more centralized pattern of the older associational plan to form only one general convention closely related to the churches for all Christian ministries. They felt that they could provide safeguards in Convention operation that would protect the authority of the local churches. Rather than form independent societies for Christian ministries, Southern Baptists elected a board of managers to supervise foreign missions and another to supervise home missions, both under the authority of the Convention. Other boards for additional Christian ministries would be formed later by the Convention. Northern Baptists eventually adopted more or less the same approach, but have -- in my opinion -- been unable to eliminate the tendency to interfere with local church autonomy. In fact, many of the Baptist bodies in the U.S. have dropped all pretense of having a non-authoritative stance and actively dictate to their member churches. My question is (took me long enough, didn't it?) do you who are not Southern Baptists or other affiliation that relies on total local autonomy, appreciate the leadership from afar in your denomination? If not, do you feel your denomination, can do better, or should they? And finally, whether SBC or otherwise, does your church convention or organization that preaches autonomy effectively remove itself from the local church's authority?