I referenced William’s side of this. Here it is. You can read both. Maybe Howell will post here as well. It’s a necessary discussion.
Flat Rock Baptist Church in Mount Airy North Carolina was quickly and summarily expelled from the Surry Baptist Association the other day according to [http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/6626/53/] this APB story from last week. Seems the church had done the unusual, the unthinkable, the unpardonable – they called a female pastor.
Tony Cartlege calls it ‘courageous, the association calls their kicking out action an attempt to facilitate “restoration to doctrinal purity and a renewed sense of unity.” You bet.
“Unity through purity”,the associational mission statement?
Sounds rather foreboding.
The association’s response may be read here. It is a rather sterile treatment of the matter which concludes that they did the right thing but that folks should be nice to the new pastor and pray for her. Her what? Success? Souls saved? Her church to grow? Oh, pray for her to repent and disappear from Surry Associaion.
Fellow SBC blogger Howell Scott has a good piece on the matter here. Scott takes the association to task for being hasty in this action. The fellow churches took all of two weeks to kick the church out, not much of a honeymoon. Guess time was of the essence for the brethren. I mean, she might have preached a pretty good sermon, led someone to Christ, or (gasp!) even baptized a new believer. You bet, get that church out of the association before anything like that can happen. They did.
I’ve been in a number of associations and understand that this is a pastor-driven business and sometimes the pastors smell blood and get in a feeding frenzy and act with haste. This is such a case. Dare I call it a lynch mob mentality? Naw, not the men of the cloth in that association – fine, upstanding, erudite, scholarly gentlemen.
Well, I read that the vote to expel the wayward church and pastor was 80%. Perhaps some of the 20% will speak up.
I understand that associations are autonomous and may expel churches with female pastors or left handed pastors, whatever they decide among themselves. No one tells a Baptist association what to do, sometimes not even Jesus…but I wish Jesus had been consulted at greater length on this matter. It looks bad for everyone.
No, a woman pastor is not my thing. But no, I wouldn’t have voted to kick the church out. Yes, I would have treated the new pastor just like I have treated female pastors (all Methodists) who have been my neighbors over the years at various times. I’d be kind, helpful, encouraging.
This type of situation will only be more frequent in the future. We had better find a better plan for handling it.
We are on the same side, aren’t we?