Constitution And By-laws

Constitution And By-laws

The Constitution and By-Laws of Black Catholic Theological Symposium

Article I: Name and Mission

Section 1: The name of the organization shall be: The Black Catholic Theological Symposium (abbreviated BCTS).

Section 2: The mission for which the BCTS is established is:

To foster among Black Catholics an ethical community of scholarly dialogue characterized by:

  • a)     A commitment to the fundamental humanity of all persons;
  • b)     Regard for the plurality of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and religious experience among Black peoples;
  • c)     The development of a theology that is authentically Black and truly Catholic.

Examples of the activities that will aid in the development and fostering of said ethical community include:

  • Publishing reports of the scholarly research and activities of BCTS members;
  • Constructive discussion of current events, scholarly agendas, and pedagogical activities among BCTS members at annual meetings;
  • Encouraging the teaching and discussion of Black Catholic religious and cultural experiences and thought within the theology and/or religious studies curricula of colleges, universities, and seminaries;
  • Identifying Black Catholic scholars whose research has applications for Black peoples;
  • Helping to develop theoretically grounded practitioners in the fields of pastoral ministry and religious education;
  • Encouraging the development of theologically and theoretically grounded ministry and programs responsive to the needs of Black Catholics within the Church and society.

Article II: Membership

Section 1:   The BCTS shall be composed of Black Catholics holding or working toward the completion of a doctoral degree or its equivalents at accredited institutions of higher learning and engaged in active teaching, ministry, and whose teaching, ministry, and/or research is consistent with the mission of the organization. Membership in the BCTS includes: the Annual Journal; access to the Membership List serve; updates on job openings; network of persons focused on the concerns of Black Catholic academia and the wider Church. 

Section 2:   New members shall be invited by the Executive committee to participate in one of three levels:

  • Full | Full Membership is restricted to Black Catholics who hold completed doctoral degrees or their equivalents. Full members are eligible to serve in any of the offices.
  • Associate | Associate Membership is restricted to Black Catholic doctoral students and those who possess scholarly expertise in the areas of theology or related disciplines. Associate members are excluded from the offices of convener, associate convener, and treasurer, but can serve in the office of secretary.
  • Affiliate | Affiliate Membership in the Symposium is by invitation only. Prospective members shall be nominated from among (a) those persons whose scholarly expertise or research is concerned with history, thought, and religious practices of Black Catholics or African American religion and culture; and (b) those persons whose employment or ecclesiastical appointments concern Black Catholics. Affiliate members who are not Black Catholics have voice in Symposium meetings but no vote, and are not eligible to serve in any of the offices.

Section 3:  As a professional society, members must be actively engaged in the publication of their research, projects, or creative expressions according to their particular disciplines.

Section 4:   Each member of the BCTS shall pay an annual membership fee, the amount to be determined by the BCTS itself. Voting is restricted to those Full and Associate members whose dues are current at the time of the election

Article III: Officers

Section 1: The Officers

The officers of the BCTS shall consist of the Convener, Past Convener, Associate Convener, Secretary, Treasurer, and Editor/Archivist. The convener and past convener are progressional offices; the associate convener, secretary, and treasurer are elected offices, and the editor/archivist is an office appointed by the other members of the executive committee. No individual shall occupy more than one office simultaneously.

Section 2: Progressional Offices

Progressional offices are those that are filled not by election but instead by a junior officer transitioning into the senior position.

Convener: The primary roles of the convener shall be to:

  • coordinate the activities of the executive committee;
  • preside over the annual meetings;
  • prepare the agenda, in consultation with the other executive officers, for business meetings;
  • secure and present appropriate mementos for hosts;
  • determine the need for supplementary meetings of the executive committee and, when necessary, secure a convenient venue.
  • to serve as the official public representative of the BCTS at academic or ministerial meetings, and arrange for one of the other members of the Executive Committee to represent the BCTS in the event of a conflict

The term of office for the convener shall be 3 years. At the end of the 3-year term of office, the convener transitions into the role of past-convener.

Past Convener: The primary roles of the past convener shall be to:

  • work closely with the web designer to ensure an accurate and attractive web presence;
  • establish and maintain contact with potential benefactors;
  • assist in developing a vision for the work of the executive committee based on 6+ years of experiences as a leader of the organization;
  • if an officer is unable to fulfill his/her duties at the annual meeting, work with the rest of the executive committee to ensure that the duties of the absent officer are fulfilled.

The term of office for the past convener shall be 3 years, after which time the past convener transitions off of the executive committee.

Section 3: Elected offices

To be eligible for elected office, those wishing to run must have attended at least 3 of the previous 5 consecutive meetings, and must be in good standing with respect to dues. Officers are elected by a plurality of the combined total of full and associate members in attendance at the business meeting. In the event of a tie vote, the names of the tied candidates will be written on slips of paper.  After a prayer led by the senior elected officer present, the most senior full member present will blindly draw one of the slips, whose name will be deemed the member elected to the position.

Associate Convener: The primary roles of the associate convener shall be to:

  • solicit ideas and abstracts for the annual meeting;
  • disseminate the call for papers in a timely fashion in advance of the annual meeting;
  • develop the program for the annual meeting;
  • notify the general membership of the location and contact information for the annual meeting;
  • work closely with the on-site chair to ensure a smooth and efficient program.
  • if the convener is unable to fulfill his/her duties at the annual meeting, work with the past convener to ensure that all the convener’s duties are fulfilled.

The associate convener is an elected position, and the term of office is 3 years. Only full members are eligible for this position. After the term of office expires, the associate convener transitions into the role of convener.

Secretary:  The primary roles of the secretary shall be to:

  • keep up-to-date and accurate membership roster and current member contact information;
  • record and distribute minutes of business meetings to the executive offices and to the general membership;
  • contact potential new members, collect membership applications, and distribute the applications to the executive committee.

The secretary is an elected position, and the term of office is 3 years. Full and associate members are eligible for this position.

Treasurer:  The primary roles of the treasurer shall be to:

  • collect the annual membership dues, registration fees for the Symposium’s meetings, and other monies that are due to the BCTS;
  • work with the secretary to determine voting status of members;
  • prepare and present the treasurer’s report, which includes current balances in the organization’s bank accounts and lists all expenditures for the year.
  • to communicate to the membership regarding the timely payment and status of their dues and other fees required for membership;

The treasurer is an elected position, and the term of office is 3 years. Only full members are eligible for this position.

Section 4: Appointed office

Editor/archivist: The primary roles of the editor/archivist shall be to:

  • stay up-to-date on current events and publications of relevance to the mission of the BCTS;
  • keep copies of select conference papers/abstracts for future publication.

Section 5: Vacating an office

  • a) If an office is vacated for any reason before the end of a term, the executive committee will appoint a temporary successor to fill the un-expired term until the following annual meeting. The temporary successor will become permanent if, at the following annual meeting, the appointment is approved by a simple majority of the general voting membership in attendance.
  • b) For serious cause (for example, dereliction of duty or incapacity to fulfill the duties of their office in a constructive or collaborative manner), the situation should be brought to the attention of the officer by the Executive Committee.  In the event that the situation is not satisfactorily resolved, the officer may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the active membership.  Such a poll should be conducted in the most expeditious manner (for example, email) by the most senior member of the Executive Committee.  The process of notification and tabulation is to be determined by the Executive Committee, in a manner that respects confidentiality and is consistent with Gospel values.

Article IV: Standing Committees

Section 1: There shall be three standing committees: the Executive Committee, the Program Committee and the Editorial Board.

Section 2: Roles of the committees

(1) The Executive Committee

Chair:               Convener
Members:         Past Convener

Associate Convener

The role of the executive committee shall be to oversee the activities of the organization, to ensure that the purpose for which the organization was established is being met, to develop a vision for the organization and a practical plan for meeting the vision, and to ensure that the voices of the general membership are heard.

(2) The Program Committee

Chair:               Associate Convener

Members:         On-Site Chair(s)

The role of the program committee shall be to solicit abstracts and ideas from the general membership for the annual meeting, to prepare the program, and to ensure that the program runs smoothly.

The associate convener’s role shall be to solicit papers from the general membership and organize the program and work with the on-site chair(s) to coordinate the program.

The role of the on-site chair(s), i.e., the member(s) whose institution has agreed to host the annual meeting, shall be to ensure that all necessary facilities are available for the annual meeting. This includes ensuring that:

  • a block of hotel rooms is reserved well in advance of the annual meeting;
  • conference rooms are available and reserved during the annual meeting;
  • appropriate multi-media technology is available for the presenters.

The on-site chair(s) must also work with the university/college personnel to:

  • attempt to secure co-sponsorship of the meeting from academic programs and/or institutes affiliated with the host institution to help reduce costs for receptions/dinners, and other associated costs related to the annual meeting;
  • invite representatives from supportive academic programs/departments, such as chairs of the Theology or Religious Studies departments, History departments, academic dean(s), the university president, and/or directors of campus ministry, local scholars whose research agendas include topics of relevance to Black Catholics, to attend all or select portions of the program, such as the keynote address;
  • invite representatives from the host diocese, e.g., the local bishop or auxiliary bishop, to attend all or select portions of the program, such as the keynote address and listening session;
  • Lastly, the on-site chair(s) must work closely with local Black Catholics to coordinate a listening session with select parish(s) and/or the university/college campus ministry.

(3) The Editorial Board

Chair:                 Editor/Archivist

Members:           Volunteers from among the general membership

The role of the editorial board shall be to:

  • Solicit and maintain the texts of abstracts and select conference papers/discussions from the annual meetings for future publication, either as proceedings or as thematic volumes;
  • Collect and archive minutes from business meetings from the secretary.

Section 2: Other committees may be established by either the Executive Committee or the BCTS during its annual business meeting as seem necessary for the fulfillment of the organization’s mission and purpose.


Article V: Meetings

Section 1: The BCTS shall meet annually at a time and place decided upon by the general membership. In the event that the general membership cannot come to a conclusion regarding the venue of the next annual meeting, the executive committee shall determine the venue.

Section 2: The dates and place of the next annual meeting shall be announced by the associate convener to the general membership no later than two months following each annual meeting. Shortly thereafter, the associate convener will issue a call for papers, reminding the membership of the dates and venue of the meeting and soliciting ideas for papers/discussions.

Section 3: A number equal to a simple majority of associate and full members in good standing shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of any business of the annual meeting of the BCTS.

Section 4: Special meetings may be called at the discretion of the executive committee.

Articles VI: Amendments

Section 1: These by-laws may be amended at any meeting of the BCTS provided:

  • a)     the proposed amendment is indicated in the final notice of the meeting;
  • b)     a simple majority of the associate and full members present vote for the amendment or approve of it in writing.
  • c)     Proposed amendments should be distributed to the membership 4-6 weeks prior to the annual meeting at which they will be considered.
  • By-Law History:

First Draft presented by Jamie T. Phelps, O.P. at the Annual Meeting, June 1992 Version 1 (June 6, 1992)
Version 2 Amended at Annual Meeting, June 1992, Pittsburgh
Final Version Amended and Passed at Annual Meeting June, 1993, San Antonio

Revision presented at 15th Annual Meeting, October 2004, Institute for Black Catholic Studies, New Orleans

Revision approved at 16th Annual Meeting, October 2005, in Houston, TX

Draft sent to members with proposed revisions on September 5, 2013

Final Version Amended and Passed at the 24th Annual Meeting, October 5, 2013 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.