The Structure of the Annual Meeting
Each year plenary sessions on the meeting theme are provided by scholars working at the forefront of the current research on the topic. Additionally, a significant number of sessions are dedicated to papers on the theme topic that have been submitted by members in response to the call of papers.
In addition to the theme sessions, each Annual Meeting features sessions which are coordinated by ETS "program units." A program unit is a group, led by a steering committee, that conducts sessions at the annual meeting which are organized around specific topics or areas of study. The steering committees for the units determine areas of focus for the sessions, solicit invited papers, and in some cases, review and select papers submitted by the membership at large for presentation in one of the unit's sessions. The types of program units are detailed below. The program units are designed to reflect a range of opinion for discussion rather than a particular position to be promoted. Steering committees are broadly representative of the range of viewpoints or methodologies found within the Society, as well as broadly represented across institutional and denominational lines. The tone of the units should be irenic, scholarly, critical thinking, and Christ-like in papers and discussion.
There are three affiliated societies that hold their annual meetings in conjunction with ETS: ATS, EPS and NEAS. Each of these societies organizes sessions of papers from their membership.
The remaining sessions held at each Annual Meeting are referred to as open general sessions. The open general sessions are collections of presentations that were selected by the program review committee which did not fit into a theme session, or one of the existing program units. The open sessions are generally very broad covering basic areas such as Old Testament, New Testament, and Systematic Theology.
There are three types of program units. The first is a Consultation. All units begin as Consultations. A Consultation is responsible for one session at the Annual Meeting (4 presentations slots or 3 hours and 10 minutes). Generally, Consultations use this session for a slate of invited papers or a panel discussion. A Consultation will be approved for a three-year term, after which it must apply for renewed status as a Section or a Study Group or to continue as a Consultation, or else disband. The absence of an application will taken as a decision to disband. Responsibility for Consultations resides with each Consultation’s chairperson and steering committee, answerable to the Program-Units Committee and ultimately to the Executive Committee.
A Study Group consists of scholars working in a collaborative fashion on a narrowly defined topic, requiring active participation. Normally a Study Group is assigned one session in the Annual Meeting for invited papers or a panel discussion. Study Groups are strongly encouraged to work toward publication of the results of their work. Study Groups normally have a six-year term which is renewable once. If a particular Study Group wishes to continue longer than this, it must take a two-year hiatus, and apply for new status as a Consultation in the third year. Responsibility for Study Groups resides with each Study Group’s chairperson and steering committee, answerable to the Executive Committee (via the Program-Units Committee).
A Section is the most broadly defined program unit, representing areas of general interest, and it offers presenters the most access for unsolicited papers. Normally Sections are responsible for two sessions at the Annual Meeting. Often one session is used for invited papers or a panel discussion, while the other session is constructed from presentations submitted by members at large in response to the general call for papers. Sections may also use the their two assigned sessions to address different topics within their area of study. At a minimum, one of the two sessions must be constructed from papers submitted in response to the general call for proposals. Sections normally have a six-year term and are renewable indefinitely, contingent on the demonstration of continued viability and compliance with the goals for all program units and the Society at large. Responsibility for Sections resides with each Section’s chairperson and steering committee, answerable to the Executive Committee (via the Program-Units Committee).
Affiliated Society Sessions
The three affiliated societies that meeting in conjunction with the Society are: The Adventist Theological Society, The Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Near Eastern Archaeological Society. Each of these societies issues its own call for papers and is responsible for the construction of their sessions.