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31 May, 2007 / theexpositor

SBC Church calls Woman Pastor

Christian reports that First Baptist Church Decatur, Georgia has called a woman as their senior pastor. This is wrong, but first the story…

First Baptist Church Decatur and its 2,696 members have been without a pastor for about a year. The search committee sought out to find a pastor young enough and mature enough to appeal to both young and old congregants, a dynamic speaker, and passionate and warm leader with a vision for the future of the church. On Sunday, the committee presented the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell to the church.

The Decatur congregation reportedly reacted positively to the announcement of Pennington-Russell, who is scheduled to preach on June 17 when congregants plan to officially issue a call for her to become senior pastor of the church.

If Pennington-Russell is elected, FBC Decatur would be the largest woman-led Southern Baptist church, reported Pam Durso, a Baptist historian who serves as an officer with Baptist Women in Ministry, according to Associated Baptist Press. First Baptist is affiliated with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship – a moderate splinter group of the Southern Baptist Convention – but still maintains ties with the SBC.

I believe scripture is clear on the subject of women as pastors. When we look at Paul’s teaching we see that the bishop/overseer is to be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2)who manages his household well and has a good reputation(1 Timothy 3:4-5,7). Whether one interprets the expression “husband of one wife” to prohibit polygamy, remarriage after divorce, or marital infidelity, it clears states that the overseer is to be a man.

I know what the response wil be from some of my SBC brothers; 1.This church and issue does not represent the views of all Southern Baptists. 2. This church obviously is not a “true” SBC church, it is really a CBF church. 3. Every SBC is autonomous and we can’t tell other churches what to do.                             

I have heard of this many, many times before, and quite frankly I regard them as a cop out. It is true that each SBC church is autonomous and I have come to realize that this has its positives and negatives. Instances like this clearly exhibit the negative argument of church autonomy in that there is a severe lack of accountability, to the point that some churches can totally disregard Scripture, yet maintain an affiliation with the SBC.

This part of the issue has been discussed for years and will continue to be discussed. It is my conclusion though that if leadership in the denomination wanted to do something badly enough, they could and would. It is also my conclsuion that leadership in the SBC will do nothing, absoultely nothing, because they lack the courage and resolve to do anything. Because of their years of compromise and conformity, spiritually and  politically, they have painted themselves into a corner. If they do the uncharacteristic thing and actually say or do something, they risk doing something that I think many Southern Baptists dread so desperately that they have nightmares about it, and that is losing face; namely being publicy perceived as being intolerant and lose membership.

The question has been asked, where are the voices? Where is Mohler, Page, Patterson, Chapman? Given the fact that this particular story of the church in Georgia has only come out recently, but there have been many other such instances, where SBC leadership could and should have done something and DIDN’T; the emergent church controversy, the purpose driven lie, the unholy partnering with self-confessed heretics such as T.D. Jakes, and the mess called LifeWay are just a few.

What is to be the outcome? I believe the Southern Baptist Convention is headed for a split. Whether or not that will equate into a split between the CBF and SBC, or the biblically faithful or unfaithful, sadly remains to be seen.

Again from the Christian Post story,

“Calling Julie was definitely not about ‘making a statement,'” one church leader told ABP. “Our committee and the deacon council really felt the leadership of the Holy Spirit as we navigated this decision-making process. And to have our entire congregation – minus five or six folks who are not happy about this – stand at the close of the service yesterday (Sunday) and applaud our committee was overwhelming to us.”  

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” 1 Timothy 4:1,2




  1. excogitatingengineer / May 31 2007 12 40


  2. slave2Messiah / Nov 20 2007 14 53

    While the SBC has been known to “live and let live” in matters of church polity, et al, they have in days long gone taken a stand against violations of Scripture. It’s one thing to tell a church what they can and can’t do [which I believe is wrong], but it’s another to just sit idly by and let them continue without any form of rebuke.

    As Christians, we do have a responsibility to rebuke, correct, and edify one another [be it personal, church to church, or denominationally]. To do nothing at all would be a cop out.

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