The short answers are (a) anyone, (b) no one. There is, as all of my informed clergy colleagues know, no such thing as “an SBC” minister. There is no “SBC” ordination. That degree from one of the six SBC seminaries? That expensive sheepskin doesn’t formally recategorize the newly erudite brother as anything other than having obtained a degree. (It’s a good thing to be an educated pastor, though.)
It used to be routine for the annuals of SBC associations to have a page for ordained ministers not serving in a church. This would be anyone a church listed. They could be retired pastors. They could be evangelists. They could be bivocational local guys who got ordained and who pastored locally and filled in. They could be in transition, uh, got fired or resigned without a new position. They could be denominational employees. The list was simply information.
I don’t know how many associations request and publish this list these days.
The state and (I think) the SBC annuals had long, long lists of SBC ministers.
Things have gotten complicated in this regard because there may be presumed liability if a church, association, state convention, or SBC lists a minister, although I am unaware of any case where a judge or jury assessed liability against any of these based solely on the informational list of ordained ministers. There has been at least one case where a jury found liability, but the case included specific recommendations of a minister who was a child abuser. The case was settled out of court.
Any church can ordain any person they choose. No approval is necessary from any SBC body for this. No educational or other requirements have to be satisfied. As one blogging wag has said, “Some churches would ordain a ham sandwich.”
Here in my state, Georgia, this announcement was recently made:
A list of ordained ministers who are not currently serving as pastors and who are certified by a Georgia Baptist church or association and a list of full-time evangelists certified by a Georgia Baptist church will be included in the Georgia Baptist Convention 2019 Annual Report.
I was a little taken aback by the word “certified.” I didn’t think any SBC entity would “certify” any ordained minister and I don’t think “certify” means to the writer what it might mean to a plaintiff’s lawyer. “Certified” merely means in this context that the ordained person is “in fellowship” (elsewhere it is “in full fellowship” with a church in cooperation with the Georgia Baptist Convention. (I suppose “in fellowship” could mean that the ordained guy isn’t actually a member of that church. It’s not clear.) Notice that the ordaining church is not required on the form nor is it required that it is necessary for the ordained person to have been ordained by a Southern Baptist or even Baptist church. Ordination could have been from another denomination or some online commercial outfit. Presumably, a responsible pastor or associational moderator would ask the person about this. Then again, my experience is that no one cares enough to ask about your ordination.
The document requires the recommendation of the pastor of the church or the associational moderator, the latter available if the church is without a pastor.
Churches are a target for crime. Financial crimes (theft or embezzlement) are likely more common than sex crimes but we’re all aware that dozens of ordained clergy serving in churches affiliated with the SBC have been arrested and convicted of sex crimes. Addressing this issue is complex and the complexity is caused by our autonomous church tradition.
Making too much out of this? Probably. But no name gets in the list unless someone signs for the person. How much liability accrues to the signer, his church or association or the GBC, if the person commits a sex crime in a church? Probably none, but I’m wary.
Guess we will see. It’s a different day now.
Hey, I’m an ordained minister “in fellowship” with a church that cooperates with the GBC, a local SBC association, and the SBC. I qualify for the list. In fact, at my church I’m the dude who fills out the Annual Church Report. I could make the list but don’t see the need for it. Whoever needs to find me can find me. I’m an under-the-radar ordained guy now.
I’ll be reviewing the GBC annual for this list of ordained guys. If I find a “Moredcai Ham Sandwich” I’ll now someone wasn’t paying attention.