SBC messengers kick off meeting with amendment; will vote on president today

SBC messengers kick off meeting with amendment; will vote on president today

SBC messengers kick off meeting with amendment; will vote on president today

A large and looming issue for Southern Baptists is punishing congregations that ordain female pastors, so it was no surprise an amendment was considered to address the issue when SBC messengers began their annual meeting Monday in New Orleans. The gathering is also expected to vote on their president later today.

In all, five SBC churches were kicked out of the denomination – a process the denomination calls 'disfellowshipping' – after hiring or ordaining women as pastors. The most famous among them is California-based Saddleback.

On Monday, on day one of the annual meeting, Pastor Mike Law introduced the amendment which was reported to the committee by Committee on Resolutions Chair Dr. David Sons.

Stone, Mike (Emmanuel Baptist Church) Stone

“I move,” said Sons, reading the suggested change, “that the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention be amended to include, 'does not affirm, appoint, or employ a woman as a pastor of any kind.'"

Speaking for the Resolutions Committee, Sons said the denomination's statement of faith --- called the Baptist Faith and Message -- is fairly clear on the issue. It states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men, as qualified by scripture.”

The committee suggested it was redundant and unnecessary to put in the constitution something that was already in its statement of faith. So it struck a compromise: Let the messengers decide. 

 “We recognize the significance of the matter at this given time,” Sons explains. “And therefore believe it is prudent to place the referred motion before the entire body of messengers, while also expressing our opposition to the suggested amendment to SBC Constitution, Article 3.”

Pastor Mike Stone, who is running for SBC president, tells AFN the issue is important enough to address even if it seems redundant to do so. So he supports voting for the constitutional amendment.

 “Sometimes you just need to make a statement about the issue of the day,” he tells AFN, “and not speak with just nameless, nebulous vagueness.”

Stone is seeking to win election as SBC president this week by defeating the current president, Pastor Bart Barber (pictured at left), who is serving the first year of a two-year term. That election is set for later today, Tuesday.

Asked by AFN about his challenge to Barber, Stone says he believes Southern Baptists are “ready to head in a different direction” over several issues that will be addressed during the meeting.

Barber, who has been interviewed by AFN in the past, was not available for this story by press time. 

Editor's Note: AFN correspondent Steve Jordahl is reporting on the annual Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting from New Orleans, Louisiana, this week.