April 15, 2008

Those unruly Baptists

[Henry Robert] is most famous for his Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies—a collection of rules regarding parliamentary procedure, published in 1876. He wrote the manual in response to his poor performance in leading a church meeting at a Baptist Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He resolved that he would learn about parliamentary procedure before attending another meeting. The rules are loosely based on procedures used in the United States House of Representatives, but the rule book was not intended for use in national and state legislatures.

Baptists were the last true congregationalists, but more and more of them have morphed into a synthesis of Presbyterian local government with a smattering of congregational votes thrown in from time to time. I find it very interesting that Robert's Rules of Order came out of frustration at trying to run a Baptist meeting. This may help to explain why many Baptist churches no longer truly have congregational voting in most matters.


  1. I had NO idea that was the origin of Robert's Rules of Order. Peggy

  2. I know - that's a funny story, isn't it? A good bit of trivia to hang onto.


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