This weekend, June 13-16, the Southern Baptist Convention convenes.
I loved being a Baptist. I loved the church and I loved its ministries. For years I supported Texas Baptist Men with my financial gifts. I believed that Baptists were demonstrating the hands and feet and heart of Christ.
Years ago, in 1990, on a Sunday drive, I was burdened for the people in a new subdivision in Houston where I could see no church nearby. I wrote my pastor and poured out my heart to him over the unchurched families in that area.
A year later as I was entering my church, I overheard our new interim pastor telling the church secretary that his ministry assistant had resigned. I learned that he was a Church Starting Consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. His office was only five miles from my home. A week later I had her job and thus began my 14 1/2 years with BGCT Church Starting Center.
But things were changing within me and around me. Associations and churches were taking sides and many churches left BGCT for a more fundamental message – a message that specifically denied women’s calling as pastors and leaders and which also put a stamp on a wife’s relationship with her husband in her own home. This demoted Christ to the point that He shared His headship with husbands, with husbands being the first line of defense.
In 2004, my supervisor, Regional Consultant Ron Gunter, gave me a tape to transcribe of a meeting he had had with the deacons of a church that was deciding whether they would leave BGCT for the SBTC, or stay. As I listened to the voices in my ears, tears rolled down my cheeks.
Those men had no idea (or perhaps they wouldn’t have cared) that a woman was hearing what they were saying about women in leadership. There was unadulterated hatred and vitriol in their words as they quoted scripture. Those same words are still being used against women who seek pastoral and deacon roles in Baptist churches today.
Read the letter Russell Moore wrote to the Dr. J. D Greear, the current president of the SBC. Listen to what he says those in leadership say about women. The same hatred and venom that I heard in my ear in 2004, is still being spewed toward women today – this time in the highest leadership levels.
Russell Moore Regarding sexual abuse by Baptist male predators: “You and I both heard, in closed door meetings, sexual abuse survivors spoken of in terms of “Potiphar’s wife” and other spurious biblical analogies. The conversations in these closed door meetings were far worse than anything Southern Baptists knew —or the outside world could report. And, as you know, this comes on the heels of a track-record of the Executive Committee staff and others referring to victims as “crazy” and, at least in one case, as worse than the sexual predators themselves.”
Jesus said to love your neighbor. Surely He also meant to love your sister in Christ. I know now when it comes to women, that Baptist leadership does not demonstrate the heart and the hands and the feet of Christ.