Comity Agreement

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Salty, Oct 31, 2003.

  1. Salty

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    20,000 Posts Club

    Apr 8, 2003
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    Has anyone ever heard of the "Comity" agreement? I understand this was between the ABC and the SBC during the 1950's. :confused: [​IMG]
  2. rlvaughn

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    Mar 20, 2001
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    I don't know much about it; mainly just that the ABC & SBC had some agreements about "invading" the territory of the other. I think this will date back much earlier than the 1950s - probably all the way back to the formation of the Northern Baptist Convention in 1907. In Baptist Ways: A History, Bill Leonard discusses some about the Fortress Monroe Conference, where some comity agreement was hammered out.
  3. rsr

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    <b> 7,000 posts club</b>

    Dec 11, 2001
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    RLVaughn is correct. There were several comity agreements that stemmed from the the Fortress Monroe Conference (1894), which was a response to conflicts between the northern Home Mission Society and the southern Home Mission Board.

    The Society had expanded its work in the south, creating a backlash. At the same time, the Society had traditionally been responsible for work in the West and with immigrants in the North, in addition to its work in the South.

    By the turn of the century, the respective parties were reaching agreement on a new division of duties; the Society's resources were strained, and recovery in the South (and reinvigoration of the Board) was allowing expansion of the Board's efforts.

    While the abandonment of the Fortress Monroe Conference agreement was most noticeable after World War II, it had frayed long before that. The SBC adopted a breakaway Arizona convention in the late 1920s.

    In 1912 the northern and southern bodies met at Hot Springs and agreed that there should be only one state convention and that the northern convention churches in southern states should consider joining the southern branch.

    My state provides an example of the process. Both the Society and the Board had missionaries in Indian Territory, although they tended to avoid competition within individual nations. The Society established Bacone College and sent missionaries to several tribes, including a mission to the Comanches not far from here. The Board, in general, was more active in the southern nations, the Society among the Plains Indians.

    In 1906, the Indian Territory convention and the Oklahoma Territory convention formed a new statewide convention, with churches from north and south forming a single body. The state convention was, at the start, aligned with both northern and southern conventions.

    However, after the Hot Springs Conference, the state convention elected to align only with the SBC. Most churches followed suit. Today, ABCUSA churches are rare in Oklahoma; most of those remaining are tribal churches that date from missionary activity.

    The comity agreements finally broke down in the 1940s, when the SBC removed all geographical restrictions on its work; that was primarily driven by its decision to move into California, an understandable decision (perhaps) with the migration of so many southerns to the state during the Depression and Dust Bowl.

    There also were comity agreements, both domestic and foreign, between denominations, which believed new fields would rapidly deplete their resources and dilute their witness if every denomination sent competing missionaries to every ethnic group or region.

    More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

    H. Leon McBeth, in The Baptist Witness, outlines much of the history of the agreements.

    [ November 01, 2003, 03:38 AM: Message edited by: rsr ]

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