A Georgia Baptist association votes today on a faith statement that some view as a referendum on a member church with a female co-pastor.
Floyd County Baptist Association in Rome, Ga., is scheduled to vote this afternoon on an April executive board recommendation to declare the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message its official statement of faith.
The faith statement, amended from earlier versions adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925 and 1963, says the Bible prohibits women from service as senior pastors. Critics view the new clause as infringing on the Baptist principle of local-church autonomy, which declares that local congregation determine their own criteria for leaders without interference from any adjudicator body.
North Broad Baptist Church called husband-and-wife co-pastors, Tony and Katrina Brooks, in November. While associational leaders recommending adoption of the new faith statement claim they are doing so only to affirm solidarity with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Brookses say they were told by a group of pastors before the issue was raised that their church could not remain in the association with a woman as pastor.
North Broad is expected to leave the association if the vote passes, and a few supportive churches are waiting to see what happens before deciding how to respond. At least one amendment is expected, declaring that the faith statement not be used as a guide for hiring or dismissal of a member church.
The debate has spilled out into the community, prompting letters to the editor on both sides in the local newspaper and a story last week in the Associated Press.
Also expected to be in town for the meeting is Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, which also has affirmed the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. Heis scheduled to lead a revival this week in a church supportive of the executive board motion.Bob Allenis managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.