“The First Baptist Church of Jefferson City is no longer a part of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, after a Tuesday vote that it would not allow the church’s messengers to be seated.”
The pastor search committee put together a packet of information for the congregation, which included Di Giosia’s resume and other interesting information.
Last Tuesday (November 14) over 850 Southern Baptists from 390 Tennessee churches spent 15 minutes debating FBC Jefferson City’s recent decision to call a female pastor. The votes were overwhelmingly in favor of not allowing messengers from the church to cast votes at the state meeting. Here is how the story was covered by the local news.
We decided to check out the Southern Baptist Convention website, which addresses the following Frequently Asked Question: (link)
Can women be pastors or deacons in the SBC?
Here is the answer that has been provided:
Southern Baptists have long valued the priceless contribution of women as they have ministered to advance God’s Kingdom. The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) affirms the vital role of women serving in the church (see Article VI: “The Church”). The Convention recognizes the biblical language concerning the office of pastor. The BF&M statement says, “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 passages that assign the office of pastor to men do not negate the essential equality of men and women before God, but rather focus on the assignment of roles.
The Southern Baptist Convention also passed a resolution in the early 1980s recognizing that offices requiring ordination are rightly addressed to men. However, the BF&M and resolutions are not binding upon local churches. Each church is responsible to prayerfully search the Scriptures and establish its own policy.
We expounded upon this topic in an article in SBC LIFE several years ago that may be helpful for further study.
The Southern Baptist Convention has not compiled a list of all the available avenues through which a woman may serve. The opportunities for women to serve in vocational ministry within the SBC are indeed vast.
It is important to point out that not all Baptist churches that cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention have embraced the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which specifically states that ALL pastors must be male.
Furthermore, ‘autonomous’ is a term that Southern Baptist leaders love to use to describe local Southern Baptist congregations. However, as the recent vote by the Tennessee Baptist Convention has clearly demonstrated to a watching world, autonomy goes out the window should a Southern Baptist church decide to call a female pastor.
A number of years ago there was a huge outcry for the Southern Baptist Convention to establish a database of pastors who are convicted pedophiles. And the reason given by SBC leaders for not being able to do so was the autonomy of the local Southern Baptist church. 🙁
The history of FBC Jefferson City is quite remarkable. According to the Church Profile for Candidate Consideration, First Baptist Church has worshiped and served in Jefferson City for over 181 years. We were happy to see that they believe in the Priesthood of All Believers.
As stated in their church profile, they also practice the “priesthood of the pocketbook” whereby members can direct where his/her contributions should be sent for missions purposes (see screen shot below).
FBC Jefferson City had been ‘dually aligned with the CBF [Cooperative Baptist Fellowship] and the SBC. Now that the congregation has been given the left boot of fellowship by Southern Baptists in its state, we assume that all future missions funding will go to CBF.
We will try to keep up with what happens at First Baptist Church Jefferson City under the leadership of its new senior pastor, Rev. Ellen Di Giosia.
We will be interested in hearing you thoughts on the recent hiring of a female pastor by FBC Jefferson City and the ouster of the church from the Tennessee Baptist Convention.