Southern Baptists Take a Stand

Written by R. Albert Mohler Jr. |
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The historic First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Va., was removed from the “friendly cooperation” status after the congregation had expressed its support for women serving as pastors. The SBC’s confession of faith states that “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,” and messengers showed their unity on this question. The constitutional question is likely to arise again. The convention took action on issues ranging from sex abuse prevention to support for Israel in its war against Hamas, but the other big headline had to do with something most messengers probably did not expect to confront—issues related to IVF.

More than 10,000 Southern Baptists gathered in Indianapolis last week for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC was confronted by an unusually urgent set of decisions this year, and the messengers, as those sent by the churches are known, had a full agenda.

That agenda included several blockbuster actions on issues of controversy in the larger culture as well as regular reports from the convention’s ministries and boards. Anyone who thinks the annual meeting of the SBC is boring should come and watch next year in Dallas. This year, there wasn’t a spare moment on the agenda.

SBC president Bart Barber of Texas finished his term only after he presided over a complicated meeting with massive challenges. The first of these challenges is presiding in a way that allows a maximum number of messengers to speak to issues, following the convention’s adopted rules. In a hotly contested election that required three ballots, conservative North Carolina pastor Clint Pressley was elected the convention’s next president. It had been a long time since six candidates were nominated for the office at a single convention. The tellers committee got a real workout.

In terms of pressing business, the two issues that loomed largest as controversies were a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined the use of the title “pastor” for any woman as grounds to find a church no longer in “friendly cooperation” with the SBC.

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