Baptist Polity is designed to prepare students for effective leadership in the typical Baptist church setting by exploring the principles and mechanics of governance at the national, regional and parish level. The course will examine the variety of church governance models, focusing in particular on the congregational model utilized by most Baptist churches. Attention will be given to its historical, theological and convictional origins. Because there is no single, authoritative source for Baptist church governance, and because the vast majority of Baptist churches are locally autonomous, students will explore ways to discover the actual decision-making processes that may exist in a local church setting, and how to navigate successfully in that milieu. The course will include understanding parliamentary procedure, interpreting church constitutions and bylaws, and determining the lines of authority established by a local church’s adopted policies. Also addressed will be the voluntary nature of Baptist denomination and association ties, and the resulting impact on ordination, statements of faith, legal issues and church affiliations.